The Nikiski and Homer football teams both picked up major awards in Small Schools All State balloting announced late Saturday night.
For Nikiski, senior Luke Johnson was Co-Lineman of the Year along with Austin Edson of Eielson, which topped the Bulldogs in the small-schools state championship game. Also for the Bulldogs, senior Jon McCormick was Co-Defensive Player of the Year with Tony Pule of Houston.
Homer, which lost to Eielson in the small-schools state semifinals, claimed Utility Player of the Year in Michael Swoboda.
Johnson and McCormick were part of a dominant linebacking corps for the Bulldogs. Both made first-team All State inside linebacker, while outside linebacker Matthew Minium made first-team outside linebacker and Rykker Riddall was second-team outside linebacker.
The quartet were all first-team Peninsula Conference linebackers.
Johnson was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs. Not only did he make the calls for the defense, but he also made the offensive line calls while playing tackle and guard. Johnson also was a first-teamer at tackle.
“You don’t get a lot of kids that end up starting for four years and doing it at a very high level,” Nikiski coach Ted Riddall said. “It obviously helps that his dad (Tim Johnson) is a great offensive and defensive line coach.
“Luke’s been an absolute joy to work with.”
McCormick, also a first-team guard and second-team long snapper, showed his toughness by playing with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the state championship game. He had injured the knee late in the season and sat out the state semifinal.
“And he had seven, eight tackles and an interception,” Riddall said. “That says a lot about who he is.”
The coach said McCormick’s tackling jumps out on tape.
“I definitely know the coaches watching him on tape saw him strike and follow with his hips,” Riddall said. “That stands out right away.”
Also on the offensive first team for the Bulldogs were senior quarterback Cade Anderson, senior wide receiver Hunter Halloway and sophomore kicker Luck Broussard.
In addition to Swoboda, Josh Fisk had the biggest haul for the Mariners. He made the first team at halfback, return specialist and defensive back. Homer’s Teddy Croft also was on the first team as a defensive back.
Alaska Small Schools All State
Utility Player of the Year — Michael Swoboda, Homer.
Offensive Player of the Year — Kalib Dunlap, Eielson.
Co-Linemen of the Year — Austin Edson, Eielson, Luke Johnson, Nikiski.
Co-Defensive Player of the Year — Tony Pule, Houston, Jon McCormick, Nikiski.
Coach of the Year — David DeVaughn, Eielson.
Assistant Coach of the Year — Don Fry, Eielson.
First team — Quarterback: Cade Anderson, Nikiski; Halfback: Caleb Velez, Eielson, Josh Fisk, Homer; Fullback: Kalib Dunlap, Eielson; Tight end: Dillon Scarboro, Eielson; Tackle: Luke Johnson, Nikiski, Mat Gustafson, Eielson; Guard: Jon McCormick, Nikiski, Austin Edson, Eielson; Center: Chris Kilpatrick, Eielson; Wide receiver: Hunter Holloway, Nikiski; Long snapper: Peter Button, Monroe; Kicker: Luck Broussard, Nikiski, Aitkan Fa’alologo, Barrow; Return specialist: Divon Davis, Monroe, Josh Fisk, Homer.
Second team — Quarterback: Travis Adams, Barrow; Halfback: Rykker Riddall, Nikiski, Ben Palesasa, Houston; Fullback: Corin Cooper, Nikiski; Tight end: Rhett Severts, Seward; Tackle: Jaden Mann, Homer, Quinten Bujan, Valdez; Guard: Ralph Mitchell, Homer, Ray Atos, Barrow; Center: Matt Morris, Seward; Wide receiver: Greg Smith, Homer; Long snapper: Jon McCormick, Nikiski.
First team — Outside linebacker: Matthew Minium, Nikiski, Andrew North, Eielson; Inside linebacker: Kalib Dunlap, Eielson, Luke Johnson, Nikiski, Jon McCormick, Nikiski; Defensive back: Josh Fisk, Homer, Teddy Croft, Homer, Caleb Velez, Eielson; Interior linemen: Tony Pule, Houston, Chris Kilpatrick, Eielson, Austin Edson, Eielson, Dillon Scarboro, Eielson.
Second team — Outside linebacker: Rykker Riddal, Nikiski, Josh Grey, Monroe; Inside linebacker: Grant Olsen, Monroe; Defensive back: Dylan Broussard, Nikiski, Preston Fifarek, Valdez, Brendon Maines, Monroe; Interior line: Trevor Fenex, Homer, Vincent Waddel, Homer, Ian Johnson, Nikiski, Rhett Severts, Seward.