Another strong performance from sophomore quarterback Carter Tennison helped propel the Homer football team to victory over the Kenai Central Kardinals on Saturday to celebrate the Mariners’ senior night.
Homer defeated the Kardinals 44-6 at the Homer High School field, moving to 3-1 overall. The loss dropped Kenai to 0-2.
Tennison ran in five of Homer’s six touchdowns, adding a smattering of two-point conversions on top of it. Senior Sly Gaona made the team’s last touchdown, a 38-yard run on a pass from Tennison, early in the fourth quarter to sew up the game.
The sophomore quarterback finished with 16 carries for 194 yards and also was 8 of 14 through the air for 135 yards.
Scoring for Kenai was senior Tucker Vann, who made a 17-yard run with just a minute left on the clock in the first quarter. Vann ended up rushing 16 times for 102 yards.
The Mariners had started up at 6-0. After Vann’s game-tying touchdown, Tennison hastily answered with the final touchdown of the quarter with just 12 seconds left on the clock, reestablishing Homer’s lead at 14-6.
The Mariners continued to pile on the points from there.
Giving up a touchdown early in the game seems to be becoming a bit of a pattern with the Mariners, head coach Justin Zank said, and it’s something he’d like to see them tighten up on.
“That could definitely hurt us moving forward, so I’d like to see us clean that up,” he said. “But I am proud of the guys responding after being down a score, and facing that adversity, that we’re able to just come right back off and rattle off 44 points.”
Zank praised the work of Tennison and Gaona in Saturday’s game, as well as the work put in by much of the offensive line, including Kian Smith, Sean Pilant, Charles Van Meeter, River Mann, Josh Manwiller and Coleman Stephens.
“I thought that they played a very solid game,” he said.
Tennison continues to progress every week, Zank said.
“I’m happy to see him progress, especially in the passing game,” he said. “Because he’s a running-first quarterback, so he’s getting better in the passing game.”
Overall, Zank said the Mariners played well after coming back from Kenai’s touchdown.
“I like the improvement that I’m seeing on the offensive side of the ball,” he said. “I thought that the (offensive) line played incredibly well today. … And then once our wide receivers got a little settled down, I was happy with how they played as well.”
Manwiller had a big game on defense for Homer, compiling 10 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. Pilant had four tackles, while Gaona and Cade Hrenchir had interceptions.
Riley Graves paced the Kardinals with four tackles, while Vann and Aiden Arness each had four tackles.
Mariners 44, Kardinals 6
Kenai 6 0 0 0 —6
Homer 14 16 8 6 —44
Hom — Tennison 6 run (run failed), 5:33.
Ken — Vann 17 run (kick failed), 1:02.
Hom — Tennison 55 run (Tennison run), 0:12
Hom — Tennison 11 run (Tennison run), 4:47.
Hom — Tennison 17 run (Tennison run), 2:59
Hom — Tennison 12 run (Tennison run), 5:53.
Hom — Gaona 38 pass from Tennison (run failed), 10:56.
Rushes-yards 37-112 31-230
Passing yards 82 135
Comp-att-int 4-8-2 8-16-0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties 10-90 14-135
Rushing — Kenai: Vann 16-102, Sparks 5-8, Tomrdle 3-2, Beck 6-(-24), Good 6-24. Homer: Tennison 16-194, Doughty 9-36, Smith 2-20, Anderson 2-(-10), Raymond 1-(-8), Wood 1-(-2).
Passing — Kenai: Beck 4-8-2—82; Homer: Tennison 8-14-0—135; Raymond 0-2-0—0.
Receiving — Kenai: Vann 2-22, Martin 2-60. Homer: Smith 4-51, Hrenchir 1-15, Reutov 1-21, Gaona 2-48.
Nikiski 39, Seward 8
The Bulldogs moved to 1-1 overall with a home victory over fellow Division III school Seward.
Nikiski’s defense had a rough first half against Homer in the Bulldogs’ first game, but was able to force three turnovers and get three more turnovers on downs against the Seahawks.
Nikiski coach Paul Nelson said his defense had trouble making in-game, first-half adjustments against Homer. The only film Nikiski had on Seward had the Seahawks running the I-formation most of the time, but Seward didn’t use that formation once Friday.
“We had to make a couple adjustments right on the fly and the kids did a good job,” Nelson said. “They’ve had more time learning football and learning the system.”
Holden Warnke had a pair of interceptions for Nikiski.
Nelson also said his squad did a better job of executing on offense. Nikiski had six turnovers in the opener and just one against Seward.
The Nikiski coach said the Veer was open all night and Koleman McCaughey took advantage for 169 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. Jaryn Zoda also was a workhorse, carrying 13 times for 55 yards and also catching a ball for 13 yards. Nelson said Caileb Payne did a good job opening up holes.
Also for Nikiski, Simon Grenier had four carries for 12 yards and was 1 of 2 passing for 4 yards, Dylan Harris had three carries for 18 yards and a touchdown, Gavin White had two carries for 20 yards and a touchdown while also catching two balls for 22 yards, Truit McCaughey had five carries for 14 yards and a touchdown while also catching a ball for 4 yards, Warnke had four carries for no yards, and Brady Bostic had a carry for a negative yard while going 3 for 8 passing for 35 yards.
Nelson said Seward and new coach Coty Beck did a good job hanging in even though the Seahawks had just 12 players.
Seward scored in the fourth quarter when Elmo Lackey caught a 41-yard pass from Tommy Cronin.
“They only had one guy on the sideline, but they were out there playing tough,” Nelson said of Seward. “They have a couple of good athletes and a new coach. I expect good things from them in the next couple of years.”
The teams play again Friday at 4 p.m. in Seward. Last year, a traveling trophy, called the Fish Bowl, was started between the two teams. Friday’s game will be for the Fish Bowl.
Clarion reporter Jeff Helminiak contributed to this story.