Wolves fall in football final as SoHi runs away with 7th straight state title
A historic run came up one game short Saturday as Eagle River fell 46-14 to Soldotna in the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Division II Football Championship at a rainy Machetanz Field in Palmer.
Eagle River quarterback Ryan Adkins said he was proud of Eagle River’s historic run, which saw the Wolves post their best record in school history, defeat Chugiak for the first time and make their first playoff appearance. But the senior — one of 16 seniors of the team’s roster — admitted he wanted more in his final game in navy and silver.
“We met a lot of goals, but we didn’t meet this one,” said Adkins, who threw for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
The Stars won their seventh straight state title in typical SoHi style, rolling up 285 rushing yards and outgaining the Wolves 346-220. The victory was Soldotna’s 11th championship and the 10th in 12 seasons for head coach Galen Brantley Jr.
The Stars won their ninth straight game since a season-opening loss to Division I West snapped the team’s 59-game winning streak to open the season.
Eagle River (6-3) put up brief resistance Saturday in its first title game, getting a 48-yard touchdown pass from Adkins to Mason Piper midway through the first quarter to take an 8-6 lead. But it was all Soldotna after that, as the Stars took the lead on a 24-yard strike from Jersey Truesdell to Galen Brantley III, then extended the gap to 19-7 on Aaron Faletoi’s second rushing touchdown of the half.
The Stars piled on in the second half, getting rushing touchdowns from Cy Updike, Hudson Metcalf and Wyatt Medcoff, as well as a 9-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Johnson to Dennis Taylor. Eagle River capped the scoring with a 53-yard touchdown pass from Adkins to Piper on the final play.
Medcoff led a balanced Soldotna attack with 100 yards on 14 carries. Faletoi added 64, Truesdell chipped in 61 and Metcalf had 51 in a game played in heavy rain that let up by the fourth quarter. Andrew Hamilton had a team-high 32 yards for Eagle River, which was held to just 51 rushing yards on 28 carries.
“Soldotna’s a really good team,” Adkins said of the Stars, who averaged 53.3 points per game this season.
Even though state titles are old hat for coach Brantley, he said every championship run has been special in its own way.
“Every single year it’s a different group of kids and a new challenge,” he said.
Brantley beamed as he watched his players celebrate Saturday’s title.
“There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.”
Does it ever get old?
“Never,” he said.
As for Eagle River, the Wolves will be forced to settle with the second-place trophy and the knowledge they’d completed the best football season in school history.
“It sucks to lose,” Andrew Hamilton said. “But we’re happy we made it this far.
Wolves head coach Bob Adkins said he couldn’t be more pleased with his team’s effort Saturday.
“I’m proud of our guys for playing hard and playing until the end.”
Ravens win sixth title
Eielson won its fifth Division III/Small Schools crown since 2012 and sixth overall title with a 36-0 win over Barrow in the ASAA/First National Bowl Division III Championship Saturday at Machetanz Field in Palmer.
The Ravens led 7-0 at halftime, then extended their lead to 15-0 when Ryan Armour blocked a Barrow field goal try and returned the ball 84 yards for a touchdown. Armour continued to punish Barrow, getting a short touchdown run early in the fourth quarter and a 15-yarder midway through to put the game out of reach. Jaydenn Manibusan’s long touchdown run late provided the final margin.
The win capped a dominant season for Eielson, which finished 9-1 and ended the season on an eight-game winning streak. The Ravens also won a Small Schools title in 2012 and three straight from 2014-16. Eielson also won an all-divisions championship in 1992.
Barrow finished 5-5 in its second straight championship game. The Whalers won their first state title last season.
STARS 46, WOLVES 14
Saturday, Oct. 13
Machetanz Field, Palmer AK
Eagle River 8 0 0 6 — 14
Soldotna 13 6 7 20 — 46
Sol - Faletoi 1 run (Truesdell kick), 9:20
ER - Piper 48 pass from Adkins (Adkins run), 6:28
Sol - Brantley 24 pass from Truesdell (pass failed), 1:32
Sol - Faletoi 4 run (kick missed), 9:00
Sol - Updike 2 run (Truesdell kick), 1:20
Sol - Medcoff 5 run (Truesdell kick), 11:01
Sol - Metcalf 84 interception return (Truesdell kick), 7:52
Sol - Taylor 9 pass from Johnson (try failed), 4:03
ER - Piper 53 pass from Adkins (try not attempted), :00
Eagle River Soldotna
First downs 11 18
Rushes-yds 28-51 46-285
Passing yards 169 61
Comp-att-int 8-23-1 5-7-0
Fumbles-lost 4-2 1-0
Penalties-yds 9-95 8-60
Punts-avg 3-39.7 0-0
Return yards 0 105
Rushing — Eagle River: A. Hamilton 8-32, Sherman 3-17, Adkins 6-9, Piper 1-5, Williams 4-1, Jackson 2-0, Cox 2-(-6), Baker 2-(-7). Soldotna: Medcoff 14-100, Faletoi 8-64, Truesdell 8-61, Metcalf 7-51, O’Reagan 4-7, Updike 1-2, Johnson 2-1, Taylor 1-0, Escott 1-0.
Passing — Eagle River: Adkins 8-22-0—169, Piper 0-1-0—0. Soldotna: Truesdell 4-6-0—52, Johnson 1-1-0—9.
Receiving — Eagle River: Piper 4-119, Rollman 2-16, Sherman 1-31, Baker 1-3. Soldotna: Brantley 4-52, Taylor 1-9.