Chugiak isn’t exactly easing its way into the 2017 prep football season.
After scrimmaging 2016 Medium Schools champion Soldotna in an Aug. 5 tune-up, the Mustangs will open their season for real against East — which won the 2016 Large Schools title.
“It’ll definitely be a test,” said Chugiak head coach Roger Spackman.
It’s one Chugiak’s players are ready for. Just two years removed from the Large Schools title game and coming off a Railbelt Conference championship, the Mustangs feel they belong in the conversation as one of the state’s top teams.
A spirited crowd sent the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks to a warm send-off Monday at Lee Jordan Field in Chugiak.
With the field’s namesake on hand to help sing “Take me Out to the Ballgame” and players sticking around afterward to sign autographs for any kid who wanted one, it was easy to forget the 4-0 defeat the hometown nine suffered in its final game of a 17-27 Alaska Baseball League campaign.
The tough loss spoiled one of the great pitching performances of the season for Chugiak, which saw starter Garrett Nevells give up just one run in nine innings while striking out eight South batters. Nevells didn’t allow a run until the ninth inning, which saw both teams scratch a run across the board.
Chugiak fell in heartbreaking fashion on a rainy Tuesday night at Mulcahy Stadium, losing to Service 7-6 in the opening round of the Alaska American Legion Baseball State Tournament on a walk-off single in the 11th inning.
Service’s Cooper Bailey-Parsons scored the game-winning run on a one-out single by Jaren Childs off Chugiak reliever Braden Shackelford.
Alaska’s latest world champion is a hot shot from Chugiak.
20-year-old marksman Matt Toth helped Team U.S.A. to a dramatic win July 6-9 at the Federation Internationale de Tirs aux Armes Sportives de Chasse (FITASC) Sporting Clays Junior World Championships at the Galgamasca Shooting Ground near Budapest, Hungary. Toth is a Chugiak High grad who frequently hones his skills at the Birchwood Recreation and Shooting Park.
Toth joined teammates Braxton Oliver and Dominic Gross in defeating second-place Great Britain by a single point.
Chugiak used a late-season surge to storm its way into the Alaska American Legion State Baseball Tournament, which begins Tuesday at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage.
After closing the season with seven straight league wins, the Post 33 Mustangs finished 11-7 in league play, good enough to clinch one of the National Division’s three automatic playoff spots. Chugiak — which won the state title in 2015 — didn’t lose a league game in the month of July, outscoring its opponents by a combined 46 runs during its final seven league games.