Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion Kodiak High School football player Giovanni Martinez (left) attempts to tackle Soldotna player Jesse Littrell during a game on Saturday Sept. 5 at Soldotna High School.

Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion Kodiak High School football player Giovanni Martinez (left) attempts to tackle Soldotna player Jesse Littrell during a game on Saturday Sept. 5 at Soldotna High School.

SoHi handles Kodiak on gridiron

Playing their first Northern Lights Conference game of the year, the Soldotna Stars got the job done against Kodiak with a 49-14 victory Saturday afternoon at Justin Maile Field.

However, longtime fans watching saw a performance that was quite un-Starlike.

Undoubtedly, SoHi had the upper hand the entire way, throwing down 401 offensive yards to Kodiak’s 172, and earning 17 first downs to Kodiak’s seven, but against a juggernaut like the Stars, the Bears tested SoHi at times with a well-managed game plan. Instead of rattling off 50-plus yard touchdowns with regularity en route to a second half running clock, SoHi had to grind this one out one set of downs at a time.

“It’s easy to see in years to come they’re going to be a team to be reckoned with,” said Soldotna coach Galen Brantley Jr. of the Bears.

The Stars also suffered an unusual number of penalties — by their standards — with eight yellow flags that backed them up a total of 80 yards.

“We certainly weren’t as clean as we usually are,” Brantley Jr. said. “I don’t think we played with much passion that first half, and that’s not typical of us.

“If we show up next week half as flat as we did in this game, we’re going to be in real trouble.”

With the win in its pocket, SoHi moved into a tie at the top of the NLC standings with Palmer and Kenai Central at 1-0 (4-0 overall), and extended its state-record winning streak to 33 games.

A three-head rushing attack of Mason Prior (98 yards), Kristian Palaniuk (46) and Brenner Furlong (73) drove the SoHi offense for much of the day. Palaniuk scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and also caught a touchdown reception as well.

Kodiak starting running back Jay Miranda was forced to sit out due to a concussion, which put the onus on Bears quarterback Andreas Carros and his arm. Carros completed 11 of 25 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown, and added a rushing touchdown for good measure.

SoHi quarterback Dylan Simons, who brought out his passing game for a 7-for-10 day, throwing for 114 yards and two touchdowns, said facing Carros on defense was made simpler after the Stars had to contend with the aerial attack of Service from a week earlier.

“They had a lot less passing schemes than Service did, so it wasn’t as hard, we just studied up on film,” Simons said.

Simons also threw two interceptions, a rarity for Soldotna. The last pick from a SoHi passer came nearly a full two years ago against (who else?) Kodiak. SoHi QB Colton Young tossed his only interception of his senior season that day, and since then the Stars have gone 18 games free of aerial turnovers since then.

“It was just mental mistakes, that’s all it was,” Simons said. “That probably won’t happen again after practice on Monday.”

Instead of its usual 30-point first quarter score that the SoHi faithful typically see, the Stars were held to a single touchdown strike, which came on SoHi’s first possession. Jesse Littrell picked off Carros on the Bears’ first possession to set up the scoring drive, which ended with Prior scampering 10 yards through the middle.

After a 30-yard drive ended with a punt at midfield for Kodiak, SoHi recorded the longest drive of the day, moving 76 yards over 17 plays — including a crucial fourth-down conversion in SoHi territory — that finally ended with Palaniuk scoring from 11 yards out early in the second quarter that put the Stars up 14-0.

Soldotna successfully grabbed an onside kick attempt, but the possession lasted only seconds, as Simons put up a hanging pass that landed in Kodiak defensive back Wesley Walker’s hands.

Carros matched Simons with a pick of his own that was brought down by Simons himself. On the next play from scrimmage, Simons found tight end Trevor Walden in the corner of the end zone for a 17-yard completion and a 21-0 SoHi lead.

Walden snatched a few passes out of the air that Simons sent over the middle, and also had a diving touchdown catch. He ended with five catches for 65 yards.

“He’s a talented player, and played well on both sides of the ball today,” Brantley Jr. said. “He did some very nice things today.”

Walker intercepted Simons for a second time late in the second quarter.

The most telling Kodiak possession came just before halftime. Carros guided the Bears 77 yards downfield, completing 6 of 7 passes for 83 yards on that drive alone, which culminated in a 23-yard touchdown catch by Tyler Wietfeld, who barely brought down the football amid a sea of blue-clad defenders. The score left Kodiak trailing 28-7 at the half.

“We have some fast kids, and that’s kind of our bread and butter, the smaller guys that can run,” said Kodiak coach Bill McGuire. “We try to run that spread and get them into space where they can make plays.”

If the Bears were looking for any momentum heading into the half, SoHi squeezed the air out of them with a 79-yard, eight-play drive that finished with a 37-yard scoring catch-and-run by Palaniuk that put SoHi up 35-7.

“SoHi is the class of the state, and we had a good game plan put together,” McGuire said. “Tough loss, but I’m proud of the kids, they kept fighting the whole time.”

The Stars will test their mettle next against a formidable Palmer team on the road next Friday night, the first matchup of the two schools as conference opponents.

Stars 49, Bears 14

Soldotna 6 22 21 0

South 0 7 0 7

1st Quarter

Sol — Prior 10 run (kick failed), 9:07

2nd Quarter

Sol — Palaniuk 11 run (K. Finau run), 9:10

Sol — Walden 17 pass from Simons (J. Smithwick kick), 7:09

Sol — Crowder 7 run (J. Smithwick kick), 1:48

Kod — Brewer 23 pass from Carros (Recinos-Pineda kick), :06

3rd Quarter

Sol — Palaniuk 37 pass from Simons (J. Smithwick kick), 8:40

Sol — Palaniuk 3 run (J. Smithwick kick), 3:47

Sol — Furlong 7 run (J. Smithwick kick), 1:15

4th Quarter

Kod — Carros 14 run (Recinos-Pineda kick), 4:42

Sol Kod

First Downs 17 7

Rushes-yards 44-262 16-42

Passing yards 139 130

Return yards 38 114

Passes 8-12-2 11-26-2

Punts 0-0 5-30.4

Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0

Penalty-yards 8-80 4-30


RUSHING — Soldotna: Prior 12-98, Furlong 9-73, Palaniuk 11-46, Urban 2-16, K. Finau 4-14, Simons 5-8, B. Crowder 1-7. Kodiak: Walton 1-17, Sega 6-13, Carros 9-12.

PASSING — Soldotna: Simons 7-10-2—114, B. Crowder 1-2-0—25. Kodiak: Carros: 11-25-1—130, Wietfeld 0-1-0—0.

RECEIVING — Soldotna: Walden 5-65, A. Gomez 2-37, Palaniuk 1-37. Kodiak: Brewer 4-61, Martinez 4-34, Galindez 1-20, Orille 1-8, Sega 1-7.

More in Sports

A Kenai River fisherman and his mother celebrate a successful catch. (Photo by Boo Kandas)
Refuge Notebook: Kenai River, the river that does it all

I did not fully appreciate the recent history of the Kenai River… Continue reading

Hope, Alaska on May 14, 2022. (Courtesy of Sabine Poux)
Out of the Office: Hope

Working in journalism is draining for a lot of reasons. We’re constantly… Continue reading

Homer’s Sela Weisser attacks Kenai Central’s Kate Wisnewski and Valerie Villegas in the Peninsula Conference championship game Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Area soccer teams ready for state

The Kenai Central boys and girls, Soldotna boys and girls, and Homer… Continue reading

Soldotna starting pitcher Atticus Gibson delivers to Kenai Central on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at the Kenai Little League Fields in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi, Kenai, Homer chase state berths at Southcentral tourney

Three berths to the Division II state baseball tournament will be up… Continue reading

Anchorage Wolverines defenseman Ben Edwards shields the puck from Kenai River Brown Bears forward Bryce Monrean on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Wolverines lose Robertson Cup final to New Jersey

The Anchorage Wolverines lost the Robertson Cup final to the New Jersey… Continue reading

Soldotna's Isaac Chavarria competes in the triple jump at the Region 3/Division I meet at Ed Hollier Field at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, on Saturday, May 21, 2022. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna girls win regions; SoHi boys, Kenai boys, girls finish 2nd

Stars boys left meet thinking they had won, but that changed with Sunday review of team scores

Chugiak softball wins Bash on the Bay

The Chugiak softball team defeated Dimond 6-2 on Saturday to win the… Continue reading

SoHi, Kenai, Homer baseball collect wins

The Soldotna baseball team defeated host Redington 12-8 on Saturday to move… Continue reading

The Kenai Central boys soccer teams mobs Joe Hamilton (center) after Hamilton scored the game-winning penalty kick in the Peninsula Conference championship game Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai soccer sweeps Peninsula Conference titles

The Kenai Central girls and boys soccer teams swept the Peninsula Conference… Continue reading

Most Read