The Soldotna football team celebrated homecoming by trouncing Wasilla 67-6 on Friday at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna.
The Stars move to 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the Railbelt Conference, while the Warriors fall to 2-3 and 2-3.
Soldotna head coach Galen Brantley Jr. improved his record to 150-9 to draw even for second on the all-time wins list in Alaska with the late Buck Nystrom, whose record is 150-88. The all-time wins leader is Palmer’s Rod Christiansen with 159 wins.
In 1992, when all of Alaska played in the same division, Nystrom won a state title with Eielson, a school of about 250 students. The Ravens defeated Soldotna 28-9 in the final game of senior Galen Brantley Jr.’s career.
Brantley Jr. took over as head coach at Soldotna in 2007, which was after Nystrom died in 2006. But the SoHi coach did say it was neat to go full circle against the Alaska coaching legend and face Nystrom when he was with North Pole and Brantley Jr. was an assistant with Soldotna. Nystrom also rebuilt the North Pole program and won a state title there. Brantley Jr. has won 11 state titles.
The Stars drew Brantley Jr. even with Nystrom by dominating on both sides of the ball. SoHi had 492 yards of total offense, 388 on the ground, while the Warriors had 108, 80 on the ground.
Soldotna also was able to force four turnovers on defense, with Trevor Michael, Zac Buckbee and Andrew Pieh getting interceptions, and Liam Peck getting a fumble recovery.
“As soon as we took care of their running game, they relied way too much on passes,” Soldotna linebacker Collin Peck said. “Our secondary’s so good, they just picked off everything they could.”
Even with the big victory, the Stars are not satisfied. Brantley Jr. said Wasilla did a good job with SoHi’s inside run game. Left guard Tanner Clyde agreed.
“We put a massive emphasis on film, and we cannot let our inside run game falter,” Clyde said. “We’re going to have to keep it rolling and correct that in practice.”
Clyde said everything else on offense was working well, with SoHi leading 17-0 after the first quarter and 52-0 at halftime.
Collin Peck had seven carries for 67 yards and two touchdowns, Wyatt Faircloth had 10 carries for 72 yards and two touchdowns, and Buckbee was 4 of 6 for 104 yards, two touchdown passes to Pieh and another one to Michael. Buckbee also ran five times for 71 yards.
Also for the Stars, Jace O’Reagan had a field goal, Collin Peck recorded a safety, Jaykob Kemp had a scoring run and Andon Wolverton had a scoring run.
“A lot of guys got to touch the ball today and get in the end zone,” Brantley Jr. said. “That’s always a positive thing for us.”
Peck pointed out that the offense functioned well without starting tight end Luke Miller and starting lineman Hakoa Montoya.
“It’ll be nice to have the big boys back where they’re supposed to be,” Peck said, while crediting the backups for doing a good job.
Clyde said the Stars will not let a string of blowout wins affect how the team works in practice.
“I think our team is confident, but with just the right amount of humility,” he said.
The Warriors were able to get in the end zone against SoHi’s second-string defense. Sophomore quarterback Dillon Kester hit junior Kemeul Rodriguez for a score.
The Stars travel to Fairbanks for a 7 p.m. game Friday against West Valley. Clyde was on the Soldotna hockey team that won the Division II state title in Fairbanks last year. He hasn’t been back to Fairbanks since, but still has good vibes from the place.
“The last time I was in Fairbanks, I ended up with a ring on my finger,” he said.
Peck said he’s hoping the Stars make it to Fairbanks. They were supposed to play at Lathrop to open the season, but the game was moved to the Valley due to wildfire smoke.
“If we have to turn around again, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said.
Stars 67, Warriors 6
Wasilla 0 0 6 0 —6
Soldotna 17 35 9 6 —67
Sol — C. Peck 2 run (O’Reagan kick), 8:54.
Sol — O’Reagan 30 field goal, 3:17.
Sol — Pieh 26 pass from Z. Buckbee (O’Reagan kick), 2:37.
Sol — W. Faircloth 3 run (O’Reagan kick), 11:20.
Sol — Pieh 34 pass from Z. Buckbee (O’Reagan kick), 10:10.
Sol — C. Peck 3 run (O’Reagan kick), 6:18.
Sol — Michael 41 pass from Buckbee (O’Reagan kick), 6:04.
Sol — W. Faircloth 4 run (O’Reagan kick), 0:48.
Sol — Safety, 9:48.
Sol — Kemp 3 run (O’Reagan kick), 9:29.
Was — Rodriguez 10 pass from Kester (run failed), 2:59.
Sol — Wolverton 6 run (kick failed), 11:55.
First downs 7 19
Rushes-yards 34-80 48-388
Passing yards 28 104
Comp-att-int 5-14-3 4-6-0
Return yards 0 34
Punts 3-24.3 1-44
Fumbles 2-1 0-0
Penalties 7-75 4-45
Rushing — Wasilla: Stickle 18-59, Kester 11-(-3), O’Connor 1-(-6), Lackey 2-26, Wadleigh 2-4. Soldotna: C. Peck 7-67, Z. Buckbee 5-71, Medcoff 10-58, W. Faircloth 10-72, Kemp 3-58, Wolverton 4-46, Walden 2-5, T. Ohnemus 3-8, Dickinson 1-3, Bock 2-4, Schilling 1-(-4).
Passing — Wasilla: Kester 5-14-3—28. Z. Buckbee 4-6-0—104.