The Soldotna football team defeated North Pole 66-0 on Friday in Railbelt Conference action at Justin Maile Field at Soldotna High School.
The Stars moved to 2-0 in the league and overall, while the Patriots dropped to 0-2 in the league and overall.
“We know we’ve got a chance to have a special year this year with the group of juniors and seniors we’ve got,” Soldotna senior quarterback and cornerback Zac Buckbee said. “We’ve just got to lock in and work hard every week.”
The game was never close as the Patriots turned the ball over five times and the Stars scored all nine times they had the ball.
Buckbee ran for two scores and threw for another. He had four runs for 72 yards on the ground and was 2 for 5 for 62 yards through the air.
With North Pole concerned about the inside run, the quarterback found lots of space when tucking the ball on his hip and dashing to the outside.
“We run the ball inside so well,” Buckbee said. “Our traps, we’re just known for it. So teams start to pinch inside and I like it, because everything outside is open for me.”
The quarterback said the blockers are the unsung heroes of the offense, naming tight ends Talon Gavalis and Andrew Pieh, and linemen Hakoa Montoya, Tanner Clyde, Henry Williams, Kenai Lepule and Ala Tuisaula.
Pieh played a big role in getting the Stars off to a dominant start. On SoHi’s opening drive, he caught a 27-yard touchdown from Buckbee.
On the ensuing drive, the Patriots tried to run outside with Ivan Nicholson on fourth-and-one, but Pieh sprung forward from his outside linebacker position to turn the ball over on downs.
After a Collin Peck touchdown made it 15-0, Pieh picked off North Pole quarterback Braidin Martin on the next drive. Pieh then caught a 35-yard pass from Buckbee on the North Pole 5-yard line, setting up a Gehret Medcoff touchdown that made it 22-0.
“I was definitely really fired up,” Pieh said. “I missed most of last season because I broke my arm. So I’m really excited to be playing this season.”
Wyatt Faircloth rushed for 113 yards and two scores on nine carries for the Stars, while Peck had 71 yards and a score on just three carries.
The offense kept on rolling when the second unit played in the fourth quarter, with Trenton Ohnemus scoring on a 17-yard run and Matt Schilling ripping off a 73-yard run.
On defense, Lokeni Wong, Jaykob Kemp and Landon Bauer also had interceptions, while Trevor Michael recovered a fumble on a kickoff.
“We just stayed disciplined dropping in our zones,” Buckbee said. “And then our line just gets pressure. So the quarterback’s under duress when he’s throwing the ball.
“So it’s kind of like a pop fly playing baseball, you just get under it and take it away.”
North Pole quarterback Kamden Stark was injured on the first snap and Martin went the rest of the way, finishing 9 of 22 for 32 yards and four interceptions.
Nicholson led the Patriots with 14 carries for 81 yards.
Soldotna stays at home Friday, Aug. 25, to play conference foe Palmer at 6 p.m.
Stars 66, Patriots 0
NP 0 0 0 0 —0
Sol 15 21 14 16 —66
Sol — Pieh 27 pass from Z. Buckbee (W. Faircloth run), 9:35.
Sol — C. Peck 28 run (O’Reagan kick), 5:44.
Sol — Medcoff 5 run (O’Reagan kick), 10:32.
Sol — Z. Buckbee 7 run (O’Reagan kick), 8:42.
Sol — Z. Buckbee 52 run (O’Reagan kick), 1:20.
Sol — W. Faircloth 5 run (O’Reagan kick), 9:06.
Sol — W. Faircloth 59 run (O’Reagan kick), 5:26.
Sol — T. Ohnemus 17 run (Wolverton run), 8:04.
Sol — Schilling 73 run (Schilling pass from T. Ohnemus), 1:36.
First downs 12 13
Rushes-yards 34-124 39-491
Passing yards 32 62
Comp-att-int 9-22-4 2-5-0
Punts 0-0 0-0
Fumbles 3-1 0-0
Penalties 8-65 6-63
Rushing — North Pole: Stark 1-0, Nicholson 14-81, Melvin 2-8, Martin 9-20, Cooper-Jackson 7-18, Wallace 1-(-3). Soldotna: W. Faircloth 9-113, Z. Buckbee 4-72, C. Peck 3-71, Medcoff 9-63, Wong 1-0, Walden 3-13, T. Ohnemus 2-25, Wolverton 5-57, Kemp 2-4, Schilling 1-73.
Passing — North Pole: Martin 9-22-4—32. Soldotna: Z. Buckbee 2-5-0—62.