HOUSTON — Fireworks filled the sky above Houston High School on Friday night. It’s an annual show that comes minutes after the final horn of the school’s homecoming game. But this year, the fireworks were even more appropriate.
The Hawks were celebrating school history.
With a 34-8 win over Nikiski, the Hawks earned their first outright conference title and extended their winning streak to a program-record six games. Houston will also now host a playoff game for the first time since 2002.
“They’re pretty excited overall,” Houston head coach Glenn Nelson said by phone late Friday night.
Houston was in the driver’s seat in the race toward the Division III playoffs with Peninsula Conference wins over Homer, Ketchikan and Seward. But a Houston loss to Nikiski could have led to an eventual three-way tie at the top of the standings. A three-way tie means a coin flip decides with two teams advance to the playoffs, and which team is out.
“We wanted to make sure we were in charge of what happened to us,” Nelson said.
The Hawks improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in Peninsula Conference play, and now can boast their first conference title. Houston earned a share of the conference title in both 2002 and 2006.
Nikiski was eliminated from the playoff race with the loss. The Bulldogs dropped to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in conference. Ketchikan (2-1 in conference) also officially punched its playoff ticket with the Nikiski loss. Even with a loss to Seward next week, the Kings hold the tiebreaker against the other two teams in the conference (Homer and Nikiski) that could still finish 2-2.
Houston scored twice during a two-minute span early in the first to take a 14-0 lead.
“We’ve been preaching all week, come out fast,” Nelson said.
The Hawks led 28-0 at halftime. Nikiski notched its lone touchdown late in the game.
Homer 21, Seward 20
The host Homer football team grabbed a 13-0 lead against Seward and held on Saturday for their first victory of the year.
The Mariners’ rushing attack was the difference in the homecoming contest, rolling up 300 yards on 43 carries to the 179 yards on 42 carries of Seward. Homer improves to 1-2 in the Peninsula Conference and 1-6 overall, while Seward falls to 1-1 and 3-3.
The Mariners took a 6-0 lead into halftime when Anthony Kalugin, who rushed for 66 yards and passed for 98 more, scored with 3:44 left until the break.
Noah Fisk, who led all rushers with 184 yards, made it 13-0 Homer with 9:09 left in the third quarter.
Then Seward’s offense started showing signs of life, with Gabriel Schrock rolling in from 7 yards out to make it 13-6 headed into the final quarter.
With 8:30 left in the game, Shane Sullivan, who led Seward with 97 rushing yards, cut the lead to 13-12 with a 2-yard scamper.
Homer answered right back with an 8-yard dash to paydirt by Jadin Mann. Just as importantly, Kalugin ran in the two-point conversion for a two-score lead.
Seward got the first score when Christopher Kingsland caught a 42-yard strike from Tommy Cronin with 1:45 left, then cut the lead to 21-20 on a conversion run by Sullivan.
But the Mariners would be able to run out the clock.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman editor Jeremiah Bartz at email@example.com.
Mariners 21, Seahawks 20
Seward 0 0 6 14 — 20
Homer 0 6 7 8 — 21
Hom — Kalugin 2 run (pass failed), 3:44.
Hom — Fisk 14 run (Gaona kick), 9:09.
Sew — Schrock 7 run (run failed), 5:54.
Sew — Sullivan 2 run (pass failed), 8:30.
Hom — Mann 8 run (Kalugin run), 4:33.
Sew — Kingsland 42 pass from Cronin (Sullivan run), 1:45.
First downs 13 20
Rushes-yards 42-179 43-300
Passing yards 61 98
Comp-att-int 3-10-0 4-12-0
Return yards 0 -50
Punts-avg 4-17.5 1-53.0
Fumbles 0-0 1-1
Penalties 4-30 10-75
Rushing — Seward: Freiberg 18-50, Muallay 3-0, Cronin 2-3, Sullivan 11-97, Schrock 8-29. Homer: Kalugin 16-66, Konev 2-31, Fisk 19-184, Mann 6-19.
Passing — Seward: Cronin 3-10-0—61. Homer: 4-12-0—98.
Receiving — Seward: Kingsland 3-61. Homer: Konev 2-51, Fisk 2-47.