football

DEREK CLARKSTON/Kodiak Daily Mirror

A Kenai defender tackles Kodiak running back Kaleb Finley during a high school football game, Sept. 8 at Joe Floyd Track and Field. The Bears play at Soldotna on Saturday at 2 p.m.

It’s Kodiak’s turn to try to end the Streak. Check that. A pair of streaks.

The Bears travel to the Kenai Peninsula to face the mighty Soldotna Stars in a Northern Lights Conference football game at 2 p.m. Saturday. 

Soldotna is riding a state-record 54-game winning streak and is 18-0 all-time against Kodiak.

“We read the papers. We have seen what Soldotna has done this year,” Kodiak coach Bill McGuire said. “It’s no surprise. We have a football game on our hands.” 

This will be McGuire’s third time facing Soldotna’s potent running offense. His team lost 49-14 in 2015 and 42-0 last year on The Rock. 

The Stars are just as dangerous this season, outscoring West Anchorage, Dimond, South Anchorage, Crater (Oregon) and Palmer 185-30. Soldotna gave up a season-high 10 points in last week’s 18-point NLC win at Palmer. The Moose beat Kodiak 57-0 two weeks ago. 

The Bears rebounded from that loss with an impressive 27-22 victory over Kenai that kept the team in the thick of the NLC playoff chase. Kodiak needed a goal-line stand as time expired to fend of the Kardinals. 

“It showed these guys that we can compete with the best teams in the conference,” McGuire said. “It should give us some confidence to take with us up there. We are looking forward to it. The Streak is always in jeopardy.” 

Soldotna leads the NLC with a 1-0 record, while Kodiak, Kenai and Palmer are all tied at 1-1. Eagle River, which faces Palmer this week, is 0-1. With Soldotna most likely landing the top spot, the four other teams are all fighting for the conference’s second and final playoff spot. The Bears have not reached postseason since 2013. 

A victory against Soldotna would most definitely put Kodiak in the driver’s seat. However, Kodiak is paying a price for last week’s home victory over Kenai as McGuire said two players were lost to the season due to injuries. 

“It’s going to take an effort from a lot of guys who have not seen a lot of time. That’s trial by fire getting thrown in there against the Stars,” McGuire said. 

The coach noted the key for Kodiak is to play its own game and not get too fancy. 

“I’ve watched a lot of film. The big schools come and blitz and stack the box and are changing who they are to try to stop that run,” he said. “I don’t think you have to. You just have to play good fundamental defense … if you are going to change who you are, then you are not the team that you brought there.”  

Kodiak is taking the ferry and will arrive in Homer Saturday morning, hours before the start of the 11 a.m. junior varsity game. The team will not get back to Kodiak until Monday.

McGuire said he decided to ferry instead of fly so that the junior varsity team would have a game.  

“We win together, we can be miserable on the ferry together,” the coach said. 

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