The Soldotna and Kenai Central football teams met for the medium-schools football crown, with SoHi taking the title, so it’s no surprise the Stars and Kardinals hogged the major awards in Alaska Medium Schools All State balloting announced Saturday.
For the second-straight year, Soldotna senior Trevor Walden was the Defensive Player of the Year. Kenai Central senior Zach Koziczkowski also defended Linemen of the Year honors.
Kenai senior Andrew Welborn was the Offensive Player of the Year, while Kenai’s John Marquez was Coach of the Year. Soldotna’s Eric Pomerleau was Assistant Coach of the Year.
The Small Schools All State team was not available as the Clarion went to press.
Walden was able to make first team at tight end and interior lineman despite suffering a broken back in the offseason.
“As good of a football player as Trevor is, he’s a better person,” Soldotna coach Galen Brantley Jr. said. “He’s been a pleasure to coach the last four years.
“I think he’s got a bright future at the next level.”
The coach said Walden has physical gifts, but that his dedication puts him over the top.
“There’s not another kid in the program that watches more film than he does,” Brantley Jr. said. “He’s a team captain, a team leader and he makes the players around him better.”
Marquez had similar thoughts on Koziczkowski, a first-teamer at guard and interior line.
“What can you say about a young man who’s been back to back Lineman of the Year?” Marquez said. “Even if he was playing with the large schools, he’s be one of the top three linemen in the state overall.”
Marquez said Koziczkowski also has a 3.8 grade-point average.
The coach said he saw success for Welborn, a first-teamer at running back and inside linebacker, and Koziczkowski early.
“Both these kids walked in my door as freshmen and I saw something in their eye,” he said. “It’s the dedication that has put them exactly where they are now.
“It’s the hard work and leadership skills in the offseason that have got them where they are now.”
On offense, SoHi also got first-team selections from Kristian Palaniuk at running back, Mason Prior at fullback, Kyle Marcuson at tackle, Austin Crowder at guard and Dalton Best at center.
Other first-team defenders for SoHi were Crowder at outside linebacker, Wendell Tuisaula and Palaniuk at inside linebacker, Dylan Simons at defensive back and Sage Hill at interior line.
Adrian Dickson-Gomez was the first-team long snapper for SoHi, while Johnny Smithwick was first-team kicker.
Kenai also got first-team appearances from Chase Gillies at defensive back and Zack Tuttle at utility player.
Soldotna and Kenai also made their presence felt at the Alaska Shriners 39th annual North/South Football Classic at The Dome in Anchorage on Saturday.
A bunch of Peninsula players were on the North team, which lost 24-14 to the South team in the large-schools game.
SoHi was represented by Best, Walden, Simons, Palaniuk and Dickson-Gomez, while Kenai was represented by Welborn, Koziczkowski, Toby Randall, Royal Brown and Drayden McMinn.
Brantley Jr. said all but Dickson-Gomez and Brown played on defense. The coach said the defense held up well, because North’s offense gave South 10 points.
The North defense also set South up at the 3-yard line for a score.
Welborn was named the Defensive Player of the Game.
Alaska Medium Schools All State
Offensive Player of Year: Andrew Welborn, Kenai.
Defensive Player of year: Trevor Walden, Soldotna.
Lineman of Year: Zach Koziczkowski, Kenai.
Coach of Year: John Marquez, Kenai.
Assistant Coach of Year: Eric Pomerleau, Soldotna.
First team — Quarterback: Bubba Stults, Juneau; Running back: Chase Ferris, Palmer; Andrew Welborn, Kenai; Kristian Palaniuk, Soldotna; Fullback: Mason Prior, Soldotna; Wide receiver: Marshal Chase, North Pole; Nick Daniels, Palmer; Tight end: Trevor Walden, Soldotna; Tackle: Kyle Marcuson, Soldotna, Kordell Pillans, Kodiak; Guard: Austin Crowder, Soldotna, Zach Koziczkowski, Kenai; Center: Dalton Best, Soldotna.
Second team — Quarterback: Andreas Carros, Kodiak; Running back: Q’on Bear-Clark, Thunder Mountain, Trevor Ortiz, Ketchikan; Fullback: Nate Fousel, Ketchikan; Wide receiver: Donovan McCurly, Juneau, Tyler Wietfeld, Kodiak; Tight end: Hunter Hickok, Juneau; Tackle: Wesley Aultman, North Pole, Kana Galetes, Juneau; Guard: Zach Hartrison, North Pole, Jas Lippert, Thunder Mountain; Center: Richard Jason, North Pole.
First team — Outside linebacker: Austin Crowder, Soldotna, Nate Fousel, Ketchikan; Inside linebacker: Kristian Palaniuk, Soldotna, Wendell Tuisaula, Soldotna, Andrew Welborn, Kenai; Defensive back: Chase Gillies, Kenai; Dylan Simons, Soldotna, Donavin McCurly, Juneau; John Robinson, North Pole; Interior linemen: Sage Hill, Soldotna, Hunter Hickok, Juneau, Zach Koziczkowski, Kenai, Trevor Walden, Soldotna.
Second team — Outside linebacker: Nick Daniels, Palmer, Lance Fenumiai, Juneau; Inside linebacker: Craig Light, North Pole, Garth Tupou, Thunder Mountain; Defensive back: Jakob Arnold, North Pole, Michael Cesar, Juneau, Vanu Mose, Palmer, Shaun Walton, Kodiak; Interior linemen: Jayce Carlson, Ketchikan, Mason Kullander, Thunder Mountain, Kordel Pillans, Kodiak, Kyle Marcuson, Soldotna, Joseph Stefan, North Pole.
First team: Punter: Giovani Martinez, Kodiak; Return specialist: Donovan McCurley, Juneau; Long snapper: Adrian Dickson-Gomez, Soldotna; Kicker: Johnny Smithwick, Soldotna; Utility: Zack Tuttle, Kenai.
Second team: Punter: Marshal Chace, North Pole; Return specialist: Jesse Littrell, Soldotna; Long snapper: Kana Galletes, Juneau; Kicker: John Robinson, North Pole; Utility: Jesse Bennett, North Pole.