Soldotna football knocks off Eagle River to set up crucial NLC showdown
On a spectacularly sunny day at the Wolves’ Den, Eagle River head football coach Bob Adkins preferred to look on the bright side after watching his previously undefeated team get outshined in a 55-19 Northern Lights Conference loss to the Soldotna Stars on Saturday.
“Now we have something to work for,” he said after his team fell to 1-1 in the NLC with a crucial conference clash against Kenai Central coming next week.
Wyatt Medcoff scored four touchdowns, Aaron Faletoi ran for a game-high 156 yards and Soldotna piled up 478 yards of offense to turn what was initially a close game into a runaway.
The Wolves opened sharp on Senior and Military Appreciation Day. After stifling Soldotna’s opening drive, Eagle River marched 80 yards in the opposite direction and took a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard Ryan Adkins quarterback sneak.
“Certainly we weren’t ready to play,” said Soldotna head coach Galen Brantley, whose top-ranked team’s warm-up was abbreviated due to the pregame festivities. “That didn’t help, but to be honest Eagles River has a lot of really good football players.”
Tim Pennington had a pair of quarterback sacks to lead an Eagle River defense that forced a turnover on downs and a punt on Soldotna’s first two possessions.
But the six-time defending state Division II/Medium Schools champions finally got rolling in the second quarter, taking the howl out of the Wolves with a pair of Wyatt Medcoff touchdown runs sandwiched around a 28-yard Medcoff interception return for a touchdown to make it 21-7 at the half.
“Once that snowball started rolling…” coach Adkins said.
Faletoi ran for a pair of second-half touchdowns as the Stars (4-1 overall, 1-0 NLC) piled up 28 points in the first 12:10 of the second half. Soldotna finished with 466 rushing yards and got three touchdown runs from Medcoff, one from Austin Escott and a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jersey Truesdell to Hudson Metcalf.
Eagle River got a pair of fourth-quarter scores, including a 3-yard pass from Adkins to Mason Piper and a 55-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Quentin Jackson on the final play of the game. Ethan Baker had a team-high 61 rushing yards on 12 carries and a game-high 45 receiving yards on three catches for the Wolves, who fell to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the NLC.
Eagle River plays Kenai on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai. The Kardinals are 2-3 overall and have yet to play a conference game; they lost 44-6 to nonconference West Valley on Saturday in Fairbanks.
With just four teams in the NLC, a win would likely put the Wolves in the playoffs — while a lost would leave them needing a lot of help.
Adkins said his team’s attitude during the coming week of practice will tell if the Wolves have what it takes to wrap up their first playoff appearance in school history.
“We’ll know on Monday,” he said.
Note: A previous version of this story misstated Soldotna’s conference record.
Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at firstname.lastname@example.org
STARS 55, WOLVES 19
Saturday, Sept. 8
Eagle River High School
Soldotna 0 21 21 13 — 55
Eagle River 7 0 0 12 — 19
ER - Adkins 1 run (A. Hamilton kick), :45
Sol- Medcoff 8 run (Truesdell kick), 10;26
Sol - Medcoff 28 interception return (Truesdell kick), 4:43
Sol - Medcoff 7 run (Truesdell kick) :26
Sol - Medcoff 7 run (Truesdell kick), 10:10
Sol - Faletoi 54 run (kick short), 9:54
Sol - Metcalf 5 pass from Truesdell (Truesdell run), 6:32
Sol - Faletoi 36 run (Truesdell kick), 11:50
ER - Piper 3 pass from Adkins (try failed), 6:59
Sol - Escott 82 run (pass failed), 2:49
ER - Jackson 55 run (try not attempted), :00
Rushes-yds 30-109 43-466
Passing yards 128 12
Comp-att-int 11-19-1 2-2-0
First downs 11 19
Penalties-yds 5-45 4-36
Punts-avg. 3-35.3 1.33.0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-0
Return yards 0 38
RUSHING — Eagle River: Baker 12-61, Jackson 1-55, Williams 2-4, A. Hamilton 2-3, Sherman 4-3, Cox 2-2, Adkins 7-(-19). Soldotna: Faletoi 11-156, Medcoff 11-137, Escott 2-82, Metcalf 7-42, Jaime 1-(-2).
PASSING — Eagle River: Adkins 11-19-1—128. Soldotna: Truesdell 2-2-0—12.
RECEIVING — Eagle River: Baker 3-45, Piper 3-41, Williams 2-19, Sherman 2-12, Rollman 1-11. Soldotna: Faletoi 1-7, Metcalf 1-5.