With Kenai coming to town this week, it’s only fitting to warp back to the last time Kodiak beat the Kardinals on the gridiron.
It just so happens the 2012 game on the Kenai Peninsula was a memorable one that featured one of the best endings in the history of Kodiak football and catapulted the Bears into the medium-school playoffs.
Mired in a two-game skid, Kodiak traveled to Kenai for a Week 5 Northern Lights Conference showdown. It appeared the Bears were going to leave the Peninsula with their third-straight loss, but then the final drive took place.
Down 19-14, Kodiak needed to traverse 58 yards in 48 seconds. Easy cookies.
Quarterback Josh Yavorsky went to work, hooking up with receiver Ruben Amodo on a pair of pass plays that put Kodiak at Kenai’s 21-yard line with 3.4 seconds left.
What happened next saved Kodiak’s season. In a desperation toss to the end zone, Fred Sorto hauled in Yavorsky’s Hail Mary attempt at the 1-yard line and fell into the end zone as time expired to shock the home team, 20-19. It was Sorto’s fourth receiving touchdown of the season.
“I was really happy. I couldn’t even explain it. I was speechless,” Sorto told the Daily Mirror. “We only won by one point. It was pretty crazy.
“I wasn’t sure I was going to catch it, because I had a defender on me. I went up, caught it and turned around in the end zone.”
Sorto had a knack for making big-time plays for Kodiak. In 2011, he caught a game-tying touchdown against Skyview during a game Kodiak eventually won in overtime.
Kodiak trailed Kenai 19-7 at the end of the third quarter. Just two minutes into the fourth, Yavorsky capped a 94-yard drive with a 5-yard scoring run — his second rushing touchdown of the game.
Kodiak’s defense stood pat the rest of the way and forced a Kenai punt with just enough time on the clock to set up the winning drive.
“It was wild,” Kodiak coach Jim Schnick said. “They knew we were just going to win.”
Kodiak finished with a 3-2 NLC record, while Kenai punched in with a 2-3 record. Had Yavorsky’s pass fluttered incomplete, Kenai would have claimed the conference’s third and final playoff spot instead of Kodiak.
“That is the play that got our team to believe in each other,” Yavorsky told the Daily Mirror.
Kodiak’s stay in the playoffs was brief, losing to Soldotna 62-7 in a quarterfinal game.
Since beating Kenai in 2012, the Bears have lost five straight to the Kardinals. Kodiak is 4-12 all-time against Kenai.