Week 4: Kenai, Homer meet in key conference clash

With both teams coming off impressive victories, Homer will host Kenai Central in a key Mid Alaska Conference matchup at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The Kardinals, a Division III school, are 2-1 overall and 0-0 in the league. Kenai defeated Division II Palmer 24-6 in Week 3.

The Mariners, who are 0-1 in the league and 2-1 overall, topped Division III Seward 46-0 in Week 3.

Kenai had lost 35-13 to Division II North Pole in Week 2, but was able to match up physically with a big school a week later.

“It wasn’t time to take a break,” Kenai head coach Jake Brand said. “Nobody was going to feel sorry for us if we ended up giving up another game to a big school.”

Brand said Reagan Graves and Luke Wilson ran really hard, and Wade James also got some tough yards after the catch. On defense, Brand said Palmer had tough, fast running backs, but the Kards did a good job of gang tackling.

The coach said getting a lot of defenders to the ball will be important against Homer and quarterback Carter Tennison, who returned from injury to play his first game of the season and dominate the Seahawks.

“He looked 1,000% to me,” Brand said of Tennison. “He’s an absolute monster. It’s something we’ve always known.”

Brand said in addition to dealing with Tennison, the Kardinals must continue to build on the identity they found on offense in Palmer.

Homer head coach Justin Zank said the Seward game gave his team confidence and momentum. The coach also added it was nice to get his quarterback back.

“I think that coming back from that knee injury, with that being his first game, I thought he played well,” Zank said.

Zank said it will take more than Tennison to get a victory over a Kardinals team coming off a big win.

“They’re going to be physical and disruptive on defense,” Zank said. “They like to move the linebackers around a lot and crowd the line of scrimmage and cause disruption up front.

“They’ve got some dudes. They’re senior-heavy so they’ve got some athletes.”

South at Soldotna, 6 p.m. Friday

The Stars (3-0 overall) are coming off a 55-26 over nonconference Division II rival West Valley.

“I thought we did some good things offensively at times, we just lacked consistency,” Soldotna coach Galen Brantley Jr. said of the victory. “Defensively, we had a few areas that we struggled in that we’re trying really hard to address this week.”

On offense, the running game has been a juggernaut for the Stars, but passing has been inconsistent.

“We know if we don’t get better passing, the box will get pretty full and it’ll be harder to run at some point,” the coach said. “There has to be some level of threat there.”

On defense, Brantley Jr. said the Stars have to do a much better job on runs to the perimeter.

On paper, the Wolverines may not seem like a threat. They are 0-3 and lost 34-7 in Week 3 to Service. Soldotna dominated the Cougars 50-14 in Week 2.

Brantley Jr. said those looks are deceiving. He said the Wolverines have a new coach and a new system.

“At some point, they’re going to figure it out and put a game together,” the coach said. “That fear is out there, because athletically, they’re the most talented team we’ve seen.”

On the offensive line, Brantley Jr. said center Ala Tuisaula and right guard Kenai Lepule had really good games against West Valley. The coach also said cornerback Zeke Miller was targeted on a number of plays and held up well.

Nikiski at East JV, 10 a.m. Saturday

The Bulldogs, 1-0 in the Denali Conference and 2-1 overall, are coming off a key 42-7 conference win over Eielson.

The Denali Conference has already lost two teams this season in Valdez and Monroe Catholic. That left the Bulldogs with a three-week hole in their schedule, so head coach Matt Trammell said it’s fortunate East JV agreed to play Nikiski.

“We’re thankful East is letting us fill in on short notice,” Trammell said. “We’re looking forward to it.”

Trammell said it’s no mistake that Nikiski’s victory over Eielson looked familiar to area football fans used to watching Soldotna’s offense dominate games. Trammell is a 2015 graduate of Soldotna and played right tackle and defensive tackle for the Stars. The Bulldogs are running the Soldotna offense.

“We’re not the smallest team, but we’re not the biggest team either,” Trammell said. “To achieve our final goals, we feel like we need an equalizer.”

Dwyght Mullins rushed for 265 yards and four touchdowns against Eielson, while Trammell said Robert Isabell did a good job in the move from tackle to center. On defense, the coach said Oliver Parrish and Charlie Chamberlain were both very disruptive.

Trammell doesn’t know what to expect from East JV. He said the Thunderbirds haven’t been filming games. The coach said the main goal is to continue to get better.

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