Story last updated at 2:59 p.m. Friday, August 9, 2002

New coach, season for Mariner football
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

photo: sports
  Photo by Sepp Jannotta, Homer News
Terry Fraley  
When the Homer High School football team was eliminated from last year's playoff picture despite a 6-2 record, Terry Fraley and the other Mariner coaches didn't waste much time before getting back to work.

Fraley and company's offseason deliberations brought certain obvious conclusions.

Homer High School Football


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Season opener


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Mariners at ACS

noon, Saturday

The defense, which was ranked No. 1 among Alaska's small schools in 2001, isn't in need of a major change. With six key defensive starters returning, Fraley expects more of the tough physical game his defense showed last year.

The offense, which will be led by a new starting quarterback in senior Chase McKinney, should feature a more-balanced look in the coming season than it did last year. As for the play calling, Fraley is looking to a new guy in that role as well -- himself.

After being named last month to replace the recently resigned Todd Phillips, Fraley has decided to hand over the job of defensive coordinator to assistant coach Carlton Kuhns and move himself over to the other side of the ball.

photo:
  Photo by Sepp Jannotta, Homer News
New Mariner head coach Terry Fraley discusses a play with his players. Ther Mariners take the field for real on the road Saturday against Anchorage Christian School  
The role of offensive coordinator is not a new one for Fraley, who called the plays for the junior varsity several seasons back.

"I'm fine with it," he said of giving up his top-ranked defense. "After leading the offense for the J.V. team that outscored its opponents by an average of around 30 points per game, I feel comfortable with that (change.) I'm really familiar with offense."

What is most exciting, Fraley said, is the number of offensive weapons the Mariners will feature this season.

"Basically, last year we were sort of one-dimensional," he said of an offense in which Aaron Smith was often a one-man scoring machine. "This year I've got five different threats."

With tailback David Drake, fullback Adam Dillon and 212-pound tight end Jake Fraley lining up around him, McKinney will have a trio of able players to give the ball to.

photo:
  Photo by Sepp Jannotta, Homer News
Chase McKinley gets ready to snap the ball to himself during a preseason practice on Monday night.  
With an offensive line that averages 240 pounds, Fraley said, he expects the Mariners will keep it on the ground quite a bit, playing a clock-eating power game.

But if McKinney is set to throw the ball down the field, and he surely will be called on to do just that, at 6-foot-4, Steven Stead should make a nice target.

"He can cover some ground," Fraley said of the senior who elected not to play football last season. "I think Steven could be a great deep threat for us."

In addition to Stead, McKinney will likely look to Jon Adams to show some good hands as well.

While the hands department is well covered, it's a different story when it comes to the feet. The nemesis of so many high school football programs, the Mariners' kicking game is still a little undefined. Fraley said Drake, who did good work as a punter last season, could be a likely choice. Adam Crum, best known for the bruising hits that earned him all-state honors last season, was the kickoff specialist last season and could well be putting his foot to the ball once again.

On the defensive side of the ball, with Crum and Josh Fraley leading the push toward the point of attack from their middle linebacker positions, Fraley said he expects more of the great physical play he saw last season, when the Mariners held their opponents to a Northern Lights Conference-best 785 total yards.

"We have a different style of play than most of the schools in our conference," Fraley said. "Homer plays a physical game. I believe that you have to be physical enough that you'll eventually break your opponent down.

"If you can break your opponent down, that's half the battle."

Fraley said approximately 40 kids turned out for the Homer football program, a number he expects to grow as players return from their fishing jobs and family trips Outside.

As the preseason wraps up and the team heads to Anchorage to face Anchorage Christian School over the weekend, Fraley praised the support that people in the community had given the team during a brief time of uncertainty following Phillips' departure.

Reacting to the fear that morale might crash following a big coaching change, Fraley said parents and school faculty stepped up big.

"Everybody worked really hard to make sure that didn't happen and that these kids were ready to go," Fraley said. "Now, we're really excited and ready to go up to ACS."

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