By Mallory Drover
On September 24th, 2011, the Homer High football team made history when they beat Kenai for the first time in 19 years. The Homecoming game was an intense clash of wills, a battle that went into double overtime accumulating a 21-14 Mariner victory. Dozens of fans swarmed from the bleachers to congratulate the players on the field, and school spirit was never higher.
On October 15th, the Homer High football team faces their all time rivals, the Kenai Cardinals, for the second time at Chugach High School for the State Championship.
“The first time we beat Kenai in 19 years is the reason we’re going to state, and we’re also playing Kenai at state,” said ballgirl Kirsten Swanson as she talked about the upcoming game. “[The game] is gonna be close. It’s going to be really, really close, I honestly don’t know who’s going to win.”
In the existence of Homer High School, the Mariner’s football team has never gone to the State Championship. The team has gone to the semi-finals within the past few years, but never reached the championship. Coach Wyatt said “This is what they work hard for. Our program’s been in existence for about 25 years, and we’ve never ever been to the big show. This is the big show.”
As the pressure builds and the game approaches, players and fans alike prepare for the championship and reflect on how far they’ve come. “It’s about having that feeling that you were in the championship game, and if you win the championship game that’s just something that’s going to keep with you forever. You’re going to have a championship ring, and it’s going to be a great feeling,” said senior Deven Kennelty, receiver. “This is the first time that Homer was ever in the championship game, and this is the best season that our football team has ever seen. It’s very mind blowing that we’re actually there, and this team has worked very hard.”
Sarah D’Water, self proclaimed ‘superfan’ for the team said “This weekend is going to be incredible. We have the team with the biggest heart, and I think that it’s going to help them pull through. And they’ve got Hoss, who is a fearless leader and would, like, die, like, seriously he would die for those boys on the team, and I think that that’s what’s going to pull through for them.” As Sarah said this, her eyes were wide with excitement and she waved her hands around in illustration.
“We’re going to have to work a lot harder. Everyone has high expectations for us. It’s a lot of pressure, since we’ve gone this far,” explained Travis Smith, another player on the team. His friend and teammate, Brad Langvardt, agreed with the seriousness in preparation of the approaching game, “The coach is really serious this week. He doesn’t take any joking around. It’s kinda tough.”
With the championship in Anchorage staring the students in the eye, excitement and school pep is on the constant rise. In support of the team, Friday became Blue and Gold Day, and an inpromptu assembly was planned.
“I think that because they’ve had such a great season, that it’s increasing school spirit,” Sarah D’Water continued. “I’ve noticed that after every game more people are showing up, more people are getting pumped up, more people have school pride, they have pride in the Mariners and the football team. They believe that we’re capable of pulling off something like this. I am behind them 100% of the way. 110! This is the year we’re going to do it, because this is the most amazing group of guys, and this is it.”