No other football team in the state looks as good as Kodiak this season.
In March, the Bears won the first-year USA Football/Siege Sports Uniform Contest. The team received 30 home and away uniforms — tops and bottoms — shortly before last Friday’s season-opening 14-0 home victory over Houston.
The team held a uniform unveiling a few days before the game and it went exactly like second-year coach Bill McGuire thought it would.
“It wasn’t the exciting, ‘ohhh,”’ McGuire said. “It was like disbelieve, which was great to see. They deserved it.”
McGuire was the driving force behind winning the contest. His essay about Kodiak’s football program, the fact the team had mismatched jersey’s last season and what players go through to play away games — long ferry and bus rides — won over the judging committee. Kodiak was selected over 407 other entries.
“Need was a driving force but as you can imagine there are many deserving programs, throughout the country, that applied. Siege and USA Football both fell in love with Kodiak’s story,” president and COO of Siege Sports Wayne McMann wrote in an email to the Daily Mirror. “Both myself and the gentleman that was overseeing the contest at USA Football quite literally got goose bumps reading Coach McGuire’s explanation of what having new football uniforms would mean for Kodiak.
“Kodiak, to us, embodies the collective spirit that makes football so special. Football in Kodiak is more than just a game; it is a communal affair that represents so many good, positive things. Football in its purest sense is the ultimate team game and we felt like Kodiak was the truest reflection of that.”
The new home uniforms are Kodiak blue with gold trim and have the word “Bears” above white numbers. The pants are blue with a yellow stripe going halfway down the leg. The away uniforms are white with blue and gold trim and have the word “Kodiak” above blue numbers. The pants are white with a blue stripe.
Both sets have an updated “K” on the sleeve that incorporates a bear paw. The jersey is made of polyester and spandex, and is tight fighting.
“They are fantastic,” senior Braxton Bolen said. “We are so excited to get them.”
McMann said McGuire was involved in helping design the uniforms.
“We decided that to keep both the younger generation and the community at large happy we would do something traditional in nature but with a little bit of an aggressive flair,” McMann wrote. “The ‘K’ was designed to represent three things… pride, passion and Bears.”
Kodiak used a variety of mix-matched jerseys last year, including a set that players donned when the program started in 2002, which are now being used by the junior varsity team. McGuire said last year’s team looked like “a bunch of rag-a-muffins.”
That’s not the case this year.
“I could tell the difference the other day when we came down the hill (to the field) —there was some swagger to them,” McGuire said.
For the first time since 2007, Kodiak plays at Juneau. The nonconference game begins 6 p.m. Friday.
Juneau, in its third season in the medium-school division, opened last week with a 50-20 loss to Capital City rival Thunder Mountain. According to the Juneau Empire, the Crimson Bears only suited up 18 players for the game.
Juneau does return junior quarterback Bubba Stults, who passed for a career-high 347 yards in a 28-20 loss to Kodiak at Joe Floyd Track and Field last season.
“They changed the offense quite a bit. They are not as wide-open as they were last year,” McGuire said. “They run a lot of counters and some sweeps. They are different. They don’t have the guys they did.”
The coach is anxious to see how his young defense, which posted the program’s 17th shutout last week, looks against a bigger Juneau team. Kodiak is 1-1 all-time against Juneau, which played in the large-school division prior to 2014.
“Our linebackers did a great job last week flying around the field, but I want to see how they can handle that size,” McGuire said. “And offensively, we have to execute better.”
Kodiak’s offense generated only 132 yards and eight first downs against Houston. The team scored touchdowns in the first and fourth quarters.
“We want to get ahead of the sticks and move the football, and I think we will,” McGuire said. “I’m not really sure, but it seems on the road we play a little bit better.”