Derek Clarkston/Kodiak Daily Mirror

Kodiak’s Isaiah Galindez runs the ball during a high school football game against West Valley, Sept. 22 at Joe Floyd Track and Field. 

At the conclusion of Wednesday’s football practice at Joe Floyd Track and Field, eight Kodiak seniors sprinted 25 yards. 

The remainder of the team watched from the end zone. Most of them cheering for lineman Josh Smith.

Smith didn’t finish first. But he gave it one heck of a try.

It was the last sprint for the senior class as they closed out their practice career in typical Kodiak weather — rain and fog.  

It didn’t dampen the mood. 

“They are a great group of kids,” Kodiak third-year coach Bill McGuire said about his seniors. “When I say it, I’m just not saying it because they are leaving, but this is the best group of kids that I have ever coached ... I absolutely love these kids.” 

The seniors will close out their high school careers this Friday against Eagle River at Joe Floyd Track and Field. The Northern Lights Conference game, which also doubles as homecoming, kicks at 5 p.m. 

A playoff berth is not at stake, just pride and a chance for Kodiak (3-4) to finish at .500 for the second time in three years.  

The Bears were eliminated from Division II postseason play when Palmer defeated Kenai last Saturday. Kodiak has not qualified for the playoffs since 2013 — a year before the seniors were in high school.

Soldotna (3-0 NLC) and Palmer (3-1) clinched the conference’s only two berths to the playoffs. 

Kodiak (1-2) can still finish third in the tough NLC ahead of Kenai (1-2) and Eagle River (0-3). The Bears have not placed that high in the conference since 2013, also the last year that the Bears had more than one conference win. 

This season, Kodiak edged Kenai and fell to Soldotna and Palmer. 

“We battled through a ton of injuries. A lot of guys stepped up, and a lot of older guys stepped up that hadn’t really played all that much,” McGuire said. “We put together a nice little campaign.” 

Eagle River (2-5) has not won a conference game since joining the NLC in 2015. This year, the Wolves lost to Kenai 42-28, Palmer 35-8 and Soldotna 42-8.

However, the Wolves have improved since a year ago, posting wins over Ketchikan and Division I Dimond this season. 

Kodiak beat Eagle River 20-0 in 2015 and 52-6 last season in a game that was broadcast on GCI. 

The seniors — Isaiah Galindez, Tristan Williams, Jovani Recinos-Pineda, Jherome Ladera, Brandon Jimenez, Shaun Walton, Arjay Fangonilo, Josh Smith, Joel Francisco and Walter Brewer — will be honored before Friday’s game. 

“I want to see these guys go out with a win. I want them to have their last memory on the field as being a real positive thing,” the coach said. “That .500 is a good mark to be able to hit.”

The Kodiak junior varsity plays Houston at 5 p.m. today at Joe Floyd Track and Field. 

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