The Alaska Shriners 40th Annual North South Football Classic went to another level Saturday at The Dome in Anchorage, and Soldotna senior Bryce Martin was more than up to the task.
Instead of multiple games, the event was cut to one game in which each school around the state got one senior, then any additional seniors were chosen by committee.
Playing against and with the state’s best players, Martin, at 5-foot-8, 209 pounds, was named the Player of the Game from his inside linebacker position.
Martin led the South team to a 14-0 victory over North after posting double-digit tackles from his inside linebacker position, according to South and Soldotna head coach Galen Brantley Jr.
Brantley Jr. said Martin also had a key pass breakup on fourth down when it was still a one-touchdown game.
“He had a phenomenal game,” Brantley Jr. said. “That is an astronomical amount of tackles for a linebacker in any game.
“He had one of his better games against the best competition he’s ever played against.”
Martin was actually first-team medium-schools all state at offensive guard, but made his mark Saturday playing solely on the other side of the ball.
Brantley Jr. credited Jack Clouse of the Kenai-Soldotna Shrine Club for working hard to make the new format possible.
“I’ve heard nothing but positive things from coaches, players and Shrine members,” Brantley Jr. said. “It was a much better product for people to watch, and a much better product in film for college recruiting.”
The South team was made up of South, Dimond, Service and West, plus the Kenai Peninsula and Fairbanks. Kenai head coach Davis Lowery was an assistant on the South team.
The North team was made up of the northern Anchorage schools, plus the Matanuska-Susitna valleys and Southeast.
Also for Soldotna, Aseli Finau was on the defensive line and Jace Urban was in the secondary. Brantley Jr. said Finau made a couple of plays in the backfield, and Urban did not have a pass completed on him.
Kenai was represented by Chase Gillies and Jonathan Delgado. Gillies played in the secondary and also did not have a pass completed on him. Delgado played at left tackle and Brantley Jr. said he held up well.
Rhett Sieverts represented Seward, while Cole Sallee played for Homer.
“I know there weren’t a lot of points, but both teams moved the football and there were some big special teams plays,” Brantley Jr. said. “There were also some really big plays on offense that didn’t result in points.”