The Kenai Central football team bounced back from a loss against Homer with a 48-0 victory over Kodiak on Saturday at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai in the annual Salmon Bowl.
The Division III Kardinals moved to 3-2 overall with their second straight victory over a Division II school. The Bears fall to 0-4.
Kenai head coach Jake Brand did not feel his team came out with enough fire in a 38-20 loss to the Mariners last week.
“The main thing we talked about with the kids is regaining the fire, being in control of the game and their emotions, controlling what they can control, and remembering what it’s like to play a complete game and not just what we want to do,” Brand said.
The Bears forced the Kardinals to go three-and-out on the first drive, but the Kardinals would score on their next four possessions to take a 27-0 lead at the half.
Kodiak head coach Taylor Masterson said his squad was banged up coming into the game, and some new injuries during the game didn’t help. Add that to getting off the ferry from Kodiak on Saturday morning, and Kodiak wore down as the game went on.
“We were filling in spots with who we had,” Masterson said. “When you’re small-town football, that’s just what you’ve got to do. So that’s where we’re at.”
The Bears were down their starting quarterback and top two running backs. Kodiak rushed 21 times for minus 22 yards.
Brand said he reworked the defensive line over the week and it paid off. The coach said interior linemen Carnell Gump and Zach Halstead were able to stuff a bunch of runs right away. Brand added that defensive ends Roc Riggle and Shane Taylor also did a good job of bottling up the run.
After that stalled first drive, the Kardinals were able to get their offense going behind the running of Reagan Graves. Graves rushed 15 times for 184 yards. He had three touchdowns, including scoring runs of 76 and 50 yards.
“He just chips and chips and chips away, and eventually, you know, the floodgates open,” Brand said of Graves. “He’s very patient running the ball on offense. He’s knows it’s a four-quarter game, and whether it’s offense or defense, he’s willing to play all of them.”
Quarterback Bridger Beck and wide receiver Wade James also gave the offense a jolt by hooking up on touchdown passes of 40 and 10 yards in the first half.
“They’re really comfortable with each other,” Brand said of the duo. “They play basketball together, they play soccer together. They’re good friends. Bridger and Wade have a lot of trust in each other.”
Beck played quarterback in the first half, and Riggle played quarterback in the second half, as the Kards also were efficient through the air. Beck was 3 of 8 for 65 yards and Riggle was 6 of 9 for 54 yards.
Kenai’s defense also made it tough on Kodiak quarterback JR Anderson through the air. Luke Armstrong, Christian Caddock and James all had interceptions, while Owen Whicker added a fumble recovery.
Brand said Caddock got beat on some pass plays early, but it was nice to see him come back and get the interception, play a part in the fumble that Whicker recovered, and catch a ball at wide receiver.
“It was a total team dynamic,” Brand said. “I certainly called out the kids names I’ve already called out, but even the players that made early missteps came back to influence the game in huge ways.”
Whicker, who had nine runs for 48 yards, and Rey Perez added touchdown runs in the second half.
Kardinals 48, Bears 0
Kodiak 0 0 0 0 —0
Kenai 7 20 7 14 —48
Ken — Graves 1 run (James kick), 1:32.
Ken — Graves 76 run (James kick), 8:40.
Ken — James 40 pass from Beck (kick failed), 2:55.
Ken — James 10 pass from Beck (James kick), 0:27.
Ken — Whicker 20 run (Mercado kick), 5:16.
Ken — Graves 50 run (Perez run), 5:46.
Ken — Perez 8 run (run failed), 2:47.
First downs 5 13
Rushing 21-(-22) 40-320
Passing 111 119
Comp-att-int 7-19-3 9-17-0
Return yds 21 52
Punts 2-32.5 1-32
Fumbles 1-1 1-0
Penalties 5-40 8-102
Rushing — Kodiak: Clark 6-1, Anderson 5-(-9), Bungay 4-12, Hughes 1-(-9), Ticman 1-(-1), Edwards 4-(-16). Kenai: Whicker 9-58, Graves 15-184, Beck 5-17, Wilson 4-11, Perez 7-50.
Passing — Kodiak: Anderson 7-18-2—111, Edwards 0-1-1—0. Kenai: Beck 3-8-0—65; Riggle 6-9-0—54.
Receiving — Kodiak: No. 7 4-48, Barroga 2-50, Cunningham 2-13, No. 14 1-8. Kenai: Armstrong 4-48, James 2-50, Whicker 2-13, Caddock 1-8.
Missed field goal — Ken, Mercado 41 (blocked).
North Pole JV 33, Seward 18
The Seahawks fell to 0-4 with the loss to the Patriots on Saturday.
Kupono Albino and Noah Price had rushing touchdowns for the Seahawks, while Brett Gilmore threw a touchdown pass to Emerson Cross.