The Homer Mariners got their season back on track with a 30-0 win over the host Skyview Panthers on Saturday afternoon at Skyview High School.
For Skyview (1-2 overall, 0-2 league), the loss came in the school’s final homecoming game — amid procession and celebration — before it shuts down next year.
But for the Mariners, who surpassed Skyview in the Northern Lights Conference standings with a 1-2 NLC record, the first win of the year sure felt good.
“It’s good to get the win, we’re big-time excited,” said Mariner Head Coach Josh Fraley. “It’s been a rough season so far, and most of these guys here aren’t used to losing too many games. We knew it was going to be tough with a smaller team this year, but they’ve got smiles on their faces.”
Homer quarterback Sheldon Hutt brought out his A-game, throwing for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and adding a rushing touchdown of his own.
“We did really well, coming out and hitting it hard and getting that first touchdown,” Hutt said. “It was really nice. But that second half, we got to work on that. We got to keep the intensity up.”
Homer wasted no time in scoring. After Skyview’s 13-play opening drive of the game stalled out on Homer’s 16-yard line (a turnover on downs), Hutt immediately connected with receiver Mario Glosser on an 84-yard toss that put the Mariners on the board first.
“We like to throw the ball, and we just came out throwing,” Hutt said. “It was a nice route, nice catch and everything turned out right. That definitely set the tone. After that touchdown, everyone was getting pumped and we kept rolling.”
Glosser ended up with 113 receiving yards on the day, all on two scoring passes, as he added a 29-yard scoring pass from Hutt midway through the second quarter.
“On our very first play, we wanted to see exactly where they were playing our receivers,” said Fraley. “Mario’s got a pretty good skill set and can catch just about anything. I had Sheldon throw to him and it set the tone for the first half. It took the wind out of their sails a little bit. We were pretty well able to do what we wanted that first half.”
Skyview ended the first half with drives that came up empty-handed, as two punts and three interceptions will prove. Homer, on the other hand, scored on five of its next six possessions.
Skyview quarterback Bailey Jones had a miserable day, only connecting on two of 11 pass attempts and was intercepted four times, including three in the first half. It was those three first-half picks that gave Homer the early opportunities to grab points.
“It’s really important to score early, it puts the other team on their heels and lets us play ahead,” Fraley said. “Those interceptions really helped us out, even though we gave some back at the end there.
“The opening play was kind of a misplay on their part, they let Mario run right by. They didn’t expect him to go deep like that.”
The Mariners converted Jones’ interceptions into points on three out of four possessions, getting a 4-yard quarterback sneak from Hutt, a 19-yard field goal, and a 3-yard score from Joseph Cardoza, who had 85 rushing yards on the day. The field goal and Cardoza touchdown both happened in the final minute of the first half.
“We prepared all week, we knew what we had to do, and then we just didn’t execute today,” said a disappointed Chris Finley, the Skyview coach. “It was all mental. We came out in the second half and nothing changed for them, they were calling the same plays, but we just stopped in the second half. Mentally, we weren’t there, and I don’t know what causes that.”
The 23 points Homer scored in the second quarter off of Skyview mistakes were not repeated in the second half, due mainly to Homer mistakes. The Mariners failed to find a rhythm as they piled up 60 penalty yards on 10 separate infractions.
“We had a lot of new guys on the line this week so I kind of expected it,” Fraley said. “We had a lot of motion going on, and they were excited. You could tell they were excited because this is the first time they were playing from ahead, and it was good to see that, but they were twitching and moving, so we got to clean that up.”
Khelbie Miller intercepted Hutt on Homer’s opening drive of the second half, but the Panthers went three-and-out. Later in the third quarter, Glosser fumbled trying to catch a Skyview punt, which left the Panthers with excellent field position, but they turned it over on downs on Homer’s 23-yard line.
On Skyview’s next possession, a sack-fumble ended the Panthers’ drive on Homer’s 35-yard line.
“I honestly just think (Homer) wanted it more,” Finley said. “I told them to take it as a challenge, a personal challenge, who you are as a man. Not as a player, not as a Skyview student, but as a man for the rest of your life.”
Friday, Homer High, a 3A medium-sized school in the Northern Lights Conference, is scheduled to take on 4A Palmer High, a large school in the Railbelt Conference, in a nonconference game in Homer. The following week they play 3A Soldotna in Soldotna. The Mariner’s homecoming game will be Sept. 28 in Homer against 4A Lathrop. The season wraps up with a game against 3A Houston in Houston on Oct. 5.
“(Palmer) is the number one team in the state right now,” said Fraley. “We have by far the toughest schedule in the state of any team.”
Fraley’s plan for the demanding games ahead?
“I’m going to keep the guys healthy and try to play some good football,” he said.
Joey Klecka is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion. McKibben Jackinsky also contributed to this story and can be reached at email@example.com.
Mariners 30, Panthers 0
7 23 0 0 – 30
0 0 0 0 – 0
Hom — Glosser 84 pass from Hutt (Glosser kick), 6:16
Hom — Hutt 4 run (Glosser kick), 11:48
Hom — Glosser 29 pass from Hutt (Glosser kick), 5:07
Hom — Glosser 19 FG, :59
Hom — Cardoza 3 run (kick failed), :25
(No scoring 3rd & 4th Quarter)
Hom / Sky
First downs 24 / 19
Rushing yards 40-187 / 36-87
Pass yards 183 / 35
Hom / Sky
Comp-Att-Int 6-11-2 / 2-11-4
Return yards 3 / 88
Punts 2 / 2
Fumbles 3 / 1
Penalties 10-60 / 2-25
Rushing — Homer: Cardoza 16-85, Johnson 6-25, Hutt 8-33, Lowe 2-17, Fisk 6-39, Seay 1-(-4), Glosser 1-(-8). Skyview: Casares 14-43, Miller 6-23, Rice 9-12, Gibbons 5-6, Jones 1-3, Craig 1-0.
Passing — Homer: Hutt 6-11-2—183. Skyview: Jones 2-11-0—35.
Receiving — Homer: Glosser 2-113, Cardoza 1-24, Lowe 1-30, Brown 1-16. Skyview: Duke 1-15, Blumentritt 1-20.