It took them a month, but the Soldotna Stars finally got to show off their 2019 wares to their home crowd, rolling their way to their first Division II victory of 2019 Friday night at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna with a 51-14 rout of Lathrop.
The Stars (4-0 overall) pushed their current win streak to 13 consecutive games, dating back to Week 2 of last year.
On the field, the Stars were feeling right at home for their 2019 home opener, which was originally supposed to be Aug. 31 against South Anchorage. That game was moved to South’s home field due to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s travel restriction from the Swan Lake Fire.
The Stars had no problem moving the ball against Lathrop, as they built a 22-0 lead after one quarter and led 37-0 at halftime, scoring on four consecutive possessions spanning the first and second quarters. SoHi’s precision ground game bullied its way to 456 team yards, while holding Lathrop to 311 total yards of offense. Soldotna had 556 yards of total offense.
“(Lathrop) certainly did some things to cause some big plays, but when you do that, you also give up some big plays,” said SoHi head coach Galen Brantley Jr. “It was more of a feast or famine type of thing.
“Really happy with our execution, though. Our kids came up with some really big plays.”
The big plays allowed the Stars to celebrate homecoming in style.
Senior quarterback Jersey Truesdell led the way with a 6-for-6 passing performance for 100 yards and a touchdown.
Malemutes QB Jace Henry proved difficult to bring down. At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Henry scrambled for 96 of his team’s 128 rushing yards, while throwing for 183 yards and two touchdown passes, both in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach. Henry’s favorite target, senior Jhon Rones, caught six balls for 99 yards and two TD catches.
The Stars managed to shut down the rest of Lathrop’s playmakers. Truesdell said after spending eight days on the road, SoHi returned ready to go without showing signs of weariness.
“We were prepared, our coaches got us prepared all week,” he said. “They gave us a little bit of trouble last year with that same defense, so we expected to see that again, so our coaches worked us all week.
“That was big, just having the guys up front ready for those techniques.”
Senior fullback Wyatt Medcoff led the SoHi ground attack with 178 yards and a touchdown, while senior Hudson Metcalf added 147 yards on just four carries with a scoring run.
Medcoff said the blitz that the Malamutes employed on defense did not deter the SoHi offense from breaking off big plays, including an 89-yard rumble that Medcoff used to extend the lead right before halftime.
“We didn’t expect a bunch of blitzing, but our line was definitely ready,” Medcoff said.
Truesdell added that, “This time, I think they threw what they could at us and if they got a nice play, good. But they ran by it a lot, too.”
Medcoff said Truesdell’s skill in reading the defense and calling the best plays injected a dose of confidence into the Stars.
“It was definitely nice hearing (Truesdell) as well,” Medcoff said. “The line was like, ‘Oh, nice, there it is.’”
Truesdell got SoHi on the board first with a 10-yard scramble to his right midway through the first quarter.
Lathrop answered with a drive downfield to SoHi’s 27-yard line, but couldn’t convert on a long fourth down attempt thanks to a defensive play by SoHi senior Zack Zeigler to knock the ball down.
From there, it took two plays for the Stars to find the end zone again — first a 47-yard burst by Medcoff that took them to Lathrop’s 26-yard line, and Truesdell took them the rest of the way with a connection to Galen Brantley III, who finished the game with 40 yards receiving.
Soldotna is scheduled to play Kodiak at home next Saturday at 2 p.m. That game will not happen if the Kenai Peninsula Education Association and Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association are on strike. Those two associations announced Friday night that it is their intent to strike starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Stars 51, Malamutes 14
Lathrop 0 0 0 14 —14
Soldotna 22 15 13 0 —51
Sol — Truesdell 10 run (Truesdell kick), 6:56
Sol — Brantley 26 pass from Truesdell (Truesdell run), 2:51
Sol — Faletoi 13 run (Truesdell kick), 1:07
Sol — Metcalf 43 run (Truesdell run), 10:20
Sol — Medcoff 89 run (Truesdell kick), 1:30
Sol — Faletoi 6 run (Truesdell kick), 8:24
Sol — Truesdell 4 run (Truesdell kick), :01
Lat — Rones 59 pass from Henry (Littell kick), 9:26
Lat — Rones 10 pass from Henry (Littell kick), 3:43
First Downs 15 10
Rushing yds 31-456 31-128
Pass yds 100 183
Comp-Att-Int 6-7-0 13-30-0
Return yds 3-18 7-122
Punts 1-18 3-42.3
Fumbles 1-1 0-0
Penalties 8-50 9-80
Rushing — Soldotna: Medcoff 9-178, Metcalf 4-147, Faletoi 7-84, Truesdell 5-17, Escott 2-16, Bond 2-13, O’Reagan 1-1, C. Johnson 1-0. Lathrop: Henry 17-96, Opp 3-14, Rones 3-8, Williams 3-4.
Passing — Soldotna: Truesdell 6-6—100-1, T. Johnson 0-1—0-0. Lathrop: Henry 13-30—183-2.