The Kenai Central football team defeated Barrow 21-8 on Saturday in Mid Alaska Conference action at Ed Hollier Field at Kenai Central High School.
The Kardinals’ senior night victory has things crowded at the top of the conference standings. Kenai is 3-1 in the league and 5-2 overall, and Barrow is 3-1 and 4-2.
Houston defeated Kodiak 47-6 on Saturday to join the Kards and Whalers at 3-1, and move to 6-1 overall. The Bears are 1-3 and 1-5.
Friday, Homer defeated Redington 64-6 to move to 2-2 in the league and 4-3 overall, while the Huskies are 0-4 and 0-7. Four teams from the conference advance to the Division III playoffs.
In the final week of the regular season, Homer plays at Barrow at noon Saturday, Kenai plays at Kodiak at 5 p.m. Friday, and Houston plays at Redington at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The Kards opened the season by beating Kodiak 37-0 in nonconference play at Ed Hollier Field, but Kenai head coach Jake Brand said the Bears have gotten a lot more players out since then. Nothing can be taken for granted on a trip to Kodiak.
“It’s upside-down land over there,” he said. “Everything is backwards. Black is white, and vice versa.”
Saturday, the Kardinals used a strong second half to avenge an 8-6, nonconference loss to the Whalers in Barrow on Aug. 19.
Just like in the first game, yards were hard to come by. Barrow had 100 yards rushing and 38 yards passing, while Kenai had 92 yards rushing and 56 yard passing.
The Kardinals gained a big advantage on turnovers, with Sawyer Vann getting two interceptions, Cole Langham snaring an interception, Wyatt Cole recovering a fumble and Logan Myers falling on a kickoff the Whalers failed to cover.
Kenai recovered both onside kicks the Whalers attempted, didn’t throw an interception and never fumbled.
Barrow also hurt itself with 13 penalties for 85 yards, while Kenai had five for 40.
The first half ended scoreless, with the Kardinals netting 26 yards on offense and punting four times.
“It was a war of attrition,” Brand said. “Our kids stayed in it, kept picking each other up, and minimized mistakes.”
The Kenai offense kicked into gear in the second half as the Kardinals scored on their first three drives.
The Kards recovered a bloop onside kick to start the second half and went 33 yards in five plays, taking a 7-0 lead on a 5-yard run from Bobby Hayes.
“I think we were just really pumped up for senior night and having a lot of fun,” said Kenai senior running back and cornerback William Wilson. “We just kept pushing and pushing.”
Barrow had lost starting quarterback Dwight Unutoa to injury at the end of the first half. Just three plays into the next drive, Vann picked off Brewster Fields and returned the ball 9 yards to the Barrow 23. Just two plays later, Hayes was scampering in with a 15-yard run for a 14-0 lead.
“I think we just wore them out after awhile,” Kenai senior middle linebacker Elliot Haakenson said.
The Whalers did fight back when Fields was able to hit Alex Fruean for a 34-yard touchdown and 14-8 game with 1:48 left in the third quarter.
Kenai’s offense stayed hot with a six-play, 38-yard drive that ended with a 16-yard run from Hayes.
After rushing for no yards in the first half, Hayes rushed for 53 in the second half. Quarterback Zeke Yragui was 1 of 9 for minus 5 yards in the first half, and 5 of 6 for 61 yards in the second half.
“We always knew we could beat them from the start, but we had to play our own game,” Wilson said.
After going up 21-8 with 11:41 left in the game, Kenai would let Barrow run just seven plays the rest of the game, and one of them was a punt.
Brand said Haakenson and Tyler Van Sky had big games in the middle against Barrow’s physical run game, while Vann and Langham punished Barrow’s passing game. The Whalers passed seven times, completing three to Kenai and two to Barrow.
Senior cheerleaders honored were Ella Romero, Alexandra Nelson, Caitlyn Martin and Scarlett Gibson. Senior football players honored were Captain Brogden, Yragui, Owen Smith, Cole, Wilson, Haakenson, Ryan Johnson, Ryan Yeager and Spencer Maw.
Kardinals 21, Whalers 8
Barrow 0 0 8 0 —8
Kenai 0 0 14 7 —21
Ken — Hayes 5 run (Vann kick), 9:52.
Ken — Hayes 15 run (Vann kick), 7:38.
Bar — Fruean 34 pass from Fields (Fields run), 1:48.
Bar — Hayes 16 run (Vann kick), 11:41.
First downs 6 8
Rushes-yards 40-100 33-92
Passing yards 38 56
Comp-att-int 2-7-3 6-15-0
Return yards 11 11
Punts 3-32.7 5-33.8
Fumbles 2-1 0-0
Penalties 13-85 5-40
Rushing — Barrow: Reyes 12-45, Ortilla 12-51, Dias 9-19, Unutoa 2-0, Fields 4-(-17), Goodwin 1-2. Kenai: Wilson 13-27, Hayes 12-53, Yragui 6-7, Myers 2-5.
Passing — Barrow: Unutoa 0-4-2—0, Fields 2-3-1—38. Kenai: Yragui 6-15-0—56.
Receiving — Barrow: Goodwin 1-4, Fruean 1-34. Kenai: Hayes 2-10, Johansen 1-15, Langham 2-22, Vann 1-9.
Missed FG — Vann 36.
Homer 64, Redington 6
The visiting Mariners put an emphatic end to a three-game losing streak by blowing out the Huskies in Mid Alaska Conference action Saturday.
Homer, which rushed 32 times for 371 yards and held Redington to 2 yards rushing, led 16-0 after the first quarter and 44-6 at halftime.
“That was definitely one of the goals heading into this week was to establish the run,” Homer head coach Justin Zank said. “The previous three games, we’ve been beaten up on the line of scrimmage.”
Redington did have 178 yards passing to Homer’s 108, but Huskies quarterback Christian Ingraham was 14 of 38 with four interceptions. Homer quarterback Preston Stanislaw was 6 of 8 without a pick.
Jake Tappan had a massive game for Homer, running 14 times for 201 yards and six touchdowns. Zank said Tappan also was good at linebacker.
“Jake Tappan just played a great game,” Zank said. “I’m proud of the way he has played the last few weeks.”
Stanislaw ran 10 times for 76 yards and two scores, while CJ Burns also ran for a touchdown.
In the second quarter, Ingraham hit Thomas Swalling for an 80-yard touchdown to account for Redington’s scoring.
Landan Branstetter, Tappan, Chris Martishev and Stanislaw had the interceptions.
Zank said Homer will have to continue to be physical to be successful at Barrow, especially if the weather becomes an issue that far north at this time of the year. The Mariners defeated the Whalers 38-12 in the first week of the season, but Zank said Barrow is a different team right now.
“If anybody has watched any kind of film, they’re not going to be worried about throwing the ball on us,” Zank said. “Especially up there with the weather and the wind, they’re going to want to pound the ball and run it on us.”
On offense, Zank said the Mariners were successful throwing on Barrow in the first game, but the weather may make the run game more important. The coach also said Homer must take care of the football.
Mariners 64, Huskies 6
Homer 16 28 14 6 —64
Redington 0 6 0 0 —6
Hom — Stanislaw 14 rush (N. Reutov run).
Hom — Stanislaw 2 run (Stanislaw run).
Hom — Tappan 38 run (conversion failed).
Hom — Tappan 17 run (N. Reutov run).
Red — Swalling 80 pass from Ingraham (conversion failed).
Hom — Tappan 46 run (Stanislaw run).
Hom — Tappan 6 run (conversion failed).
Hom — Tappan 9 run (Tappan run).
Hom — Tappan 10 run (conversion failed).
Hom — Burns 8 run (conversion failed).
First downs 24 9
Rushes-yards 32-371 8-2
Passing yards 108 178
Comp-att-int 6-8-0 14-38-4
Fumbles 0-0 2-2
Penalties 11-112 3-25
Rushing — Homer: Tappan 14-201, Stanislaw 10-76, Burns 4-62, N. Reutov 4-32. Redington: Swalling 6-14, Ingraham 2-(-12).
Passing — Homer: Stanislaw 6-8-0—108. Redington: Ingraham 14-38-4—178.