The Soldotna football team earned three of the five major awards in Division II all-state balloting announced Saturday.
Junior Jersey Truesdell was Offensive Player of the Year, while senior Levi Benner was named Lineman of the Year and Eric Pomerleau was Assistant Coach of the Year. Bob Adkins of Eagle River was Coach of the Year, while Deondric Henderson of Lathrop was Defensive Player of the Year.
Truesdell was first-team all-state at both quarterback and defensive back. He had over 1,400 yards combined rushing and passing.
“He was a dual threat for us and did a phenomenal job,” Brantley Jr. said. “He was the hub of our offense and did the checks at the line of scrimmage. He executed our option game and we were able to put a lot of things on him.
“His progress over the course of the season was fun to watch.”
Benner was first team at offensive tackle and defensive line.
“I thought our line play was better than anybody else, so it was great to see him get recognition,” Brantley Jr. said.
Junior Aaron Faletoi was first team at halfback and defensive line.
“Aaron is just a beast,” Brantley Jr. said. “He’s just a physical specimen. He’s a next-level kind of kid that I think we’ll see play on Saturday in another year.”
Junior Galen Brantley III was first team at tight end and middle linebacker. Brantley Jr. said his son remained a receiving threat and great blocker this season, but he really blossomed as a defensive player.
Junior Hudson Metcalf made first team as an outside linebacker.
“He really cuts the field in half for us,” Brantley Jr. said. “Teams can’t get outside of him, so that leads to a lot of our defensive success.”
Finally, junior Zach Hanson was on the first team as a utility player.
Peninsula players get win at Shrine Classic
Five Kenai Peninsula players were on the winning team Saturday at the Shrine Classic at The Dome in Anchorage.
The players were all on the Gray Team, which won 29-6 and was coached by Soldotna head coach Brantley Jr.
The players were Beau Frieberg and Chris Kingsland of Seward, Joseph Mcleod of Nikiski, Jarett Wilson of Kenai, and Benner and Cody Nye of Soldotna.
Brantley Jr. said Wilson played defensive end and made a lot of tackles, while Nye, at center, and Benner, at right tackle, anchored the offensive line. The coach also said Mcleod was solid on the defensive line.
Brantley Jr. gave credit to central peninsula resident Jack Clouse for turning the Shrine Classic into a great event.
“I’ve been involved since ‘06 and this was by far the biggest crowd,” Brantley Jr. said. “He’s put a lot of time and energy into the game. It’s seen so much growth in three years, it’s remarkable.”
Brantley Jr. said there is so much talent on the field, it looks like a small college game.
The coach also was happy to have Adam Byrne running his defense. Byrne is an assistant at Soldotna, but back when Byrne was playing at now-closed Skyview High School, Brantley Jr. brought him to the Shrine Classic as a player.
Offensive Player of the Year: Jersey Truesdell, Soldotna
Defensive Player of the Year: Deondric Henderson, Lathrop
Lineman of the Year: Levi Benner, Soldotna
Coach of the Year: Bob Adkins, Eagle River
Assistant Coach of the Year: Eric Pomerleau, Soldotna
Quarterback — Jersey Truesdell, Soldotna; Running back — Aaron Faletoi, Soldotna; Brendyn Maschmeier, Lathrop; Fullback — Duston Corbin, Palmer; Wide receiver — Juan Mendez, Lathrop; Mason Piper, Eagle River; Tight end — Galen Brantley III, Soldotna; Tackle — Levi Benner, Soldotna; Corbin Tomaszewski, Lathrop; Guard — Danny Panama, Lathrop; Parker Smith, Palmer; Center — Joe Kimbrough, West Valley.
Defensive line — Levi Benner, Soldotna; Aaron Faletoi, Soldotna; Corbin Tomaszewski, Lathrop; Jarett Wilson, Kenai; Outside linebacker — Deondric Henderson, Lathrop; Hudson Metcalf, Soldotna; Inside linebacker — Galen Brantley III, Soldotna; Jace Henry, Lathrop; Defensive back — Ryan Adkins, Eagle River; Jersey Truesdell, Soldotna; Avery Weston, West Valley; Michael Zandra, Lathrop.
First-team special teams:
Kicker — Ethan Raygor, West Valley; Punter — Jace Henry, Lathrop; Long snapper — Levi Farris, Palmer; Return specialist — Avery Weston, West Valley; Utility player — Zach Hanson, Soldotna.
Quarterback — Ryan Adkins, Eagle River; Luke Guggenmos, Palmer; Jaden Littell, Lathrop; Running back — Chase Bruesch, Palmer; Titus Riddall, Kenai; Isiah Warner, West Valley; Fullback — Micah Bartel, Kodiak; Wide receiver — Quinard Cox, Eagle River; Avery Weston, West Valley; Tackle — Tyler Linder, Palmer; Jarrett Wilson, Kenai; Guard — Orazio Ramos, Eagle River; Brennan Werner, Soldotna; Center — Matt Bellman, Eagle River.
Defensive line — Michael Cayword, Eagle River; Micah Natwick, Palmer; Merrick Stacey, West Valley; Brock Weatherspoon, North Pole; Outside linebacker — Duston Corbin, Palmer; Levi Farris, Palmer; Tim Pennington, Eagle River; Inside linebacker — Joe Kimbrough, West Valley; Orazio Ramos, Eagle River; Parker Smith, Palmer; Defensive back — Preston Damario, West Valley; Piper Mason, Eagle River; Wyatt Medcoff, Soldotna; Juan Mendez, Lathrop.
Kicker — Kaden McKibben, Kenai; Punter — Ryan Adkins, Eagle River; Long snapper — Galen Brantley III, Soldotna; Return specialist — Cy Updike, Soldotna; Utility player — Jayden Christiansen, Palmer.
Offensive Player of the Year: Jayden Manibusan, Eielson
Defensive Player of the Year: Ryan Armour, Eielson
Lineman of the Year: Scott Fry, Eielson
Coach of the Year: Dave DeVaughn, Eielson
Assistant Coach of the Year: Don Fry, Eielson
Quarterback — Brendan Wang, Ketchikan; Running back — Jayden Manibusan, Eielson; Apete Sasiu, Houston; Fullback — Ryan Armour, Eielson; Tight end — Brock Renson, Eielson; Wide receiver — Isaac Minema, Monroe; CJ Jasper, Ketchikan; Tackle — Jack Sasiu, Houston; Guard — Scott Fry, Eielson; Wakefield Kremer, Houston; Center — Shawn Graham, Houston.
Defensive line — Stevie Byron, Ketchikan; Shawn Graham, Houston; Scott Fry, Eielson; Brock Renson, Eielson; Inside linebacker — Josh Gray, Monroe; Ben Heather, Barrow; Outside linebacker — Ryan Armour, Eielson; Owen Mulhaney, Houston; Defensive back — Isaac Minnema, Monroe; Jayden Manibusan, Eielson; Apete Sasiu.
First-team special teams:
Kicker — Jordan Higbee, Monroe; Punter — Rhiley Spott, Redington; Return specialist — CJ Jasper, Ketchikan; Long snapper — Eli Benson, Redington; Utility player — Anthony Fruean, Barrow.
Quarterback — Payton DeVaughn, Eielson; Running back — Josh Gray, Monroe; Beau Freiberg, Seward; Fullback — Kennedy Fono, Houston; Tight end — Brandon Wieber, Ketchikan; Wide receiver — Jordan Higbee, Monroe; Christopher Carlson, Ketchikan; Tackle — Mason Johnson, Eielson; Sebastian Sia, Barrow; Jadin Mann, Homer; Guard — Joey Rodriguez, Eielson; Dustin Mullins, Nikiski; Center — Brian Filipo, Barrow.
Defensive line — Joe McLeod, Nikiski; Steven Harshman, Seward; Joey Rodriguez, Eielson; Brian Filipo, Barrow; Inside linebacker — Kennedy Fono, Houston; Josh Manwiller, Homer; Outside linebacker — Isaac Garcia, Monroe; Gavin Mulhaney, Houston; Defensive back — Jordan Higbee, Monroe; CJ Jasper, Ketchikan; Chris Kingsland, Seward.