Story last updated at 1:20 p.m. Saturday, August 31, 2002

Mariners sink reigning state champs
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

photo: sports
  Photo by Sepp Jannotta, Homer News
Homer safety Jon Adams wrestles Nikiski running back Steve Carlson for control of the ball as he makes the tackle, while defensive tackle Kyle McManus, on the ground, grabs for some shoe leather. Linebacker Bryan Smith is at left.  
It's beginning to look like Homer High School tailback-cornerback David Drake may be a ball hog, but after Friday night's performance his Mariner teammates are probably not complaining.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Drake gave the home crowd a show, scoring touchdowns on both sides of the ball during the 38-0 romp over nonconference foe and two-time defending state small schools football champion Nikiski.

Drake reeled off 194 rushing yards on 21 carries, scampered for two rushing touchdowns and picked off a pair of passes, one of which he brought back for a 23-yard score.

In the first three games of the season, Drake has averaged 210 yards per game and more than nine yards a carry.

While Drake has made getting in the end zone look relatively easy, it's looked painfully difficult for the Bulldogs, who did not get on the scoreboard for the second straight game.

Part of that difficulty stemmed from a stingy Homer defense -- the Mariners allowed the Bulldogs just 169 yards of offense, including 76 on the ground. Part of that difficulty can also be attributed to the fact that Nikiski is very much in a rebuilding year. Just seven of the Bulldogs' 30 players are seniors. Starting quarterback Travis McGahan is a sophomore.

"We're obviously a very young team," Nikiski coach Lee Moore said Friday. "And tonight we got pushed around by a bigger, stronger team. So, that's nothing to hang our heads about."

The size and experience difference showed at the line of scrimmage, particularly when Homer held the ball. The Mariner offensive line made it a long night for the Nikiski linemen and backers, blowing open holes that created running room to the tune of 412 total yards for the Homer backfield.

"They were opening huge holes," Drake said.

By the middle of the fourth quarter, Homer had controlled the ball so efficiently that Nikiski's fatigue was apparent.

Homer fullback Josh Fraley picked up 106 yards on 10 carries, all after the Mariners' other fullback, Adam Crum, had pounded it up the middle for 84 yards on 11 carries in the first three quarters.

"The running backs ran hard and the offensive line did an excellent job," Homer coach Terry Fraley said of the action in the trenches. "They manhandled them in there."

Homer has a reputation for pounding out the rushing yards. But what Nikiski may not have anticipated was the Mariner air attack. First-time starter Jake Fraley put up 17 passes, and his five completions kept the Bulldogs from cheating on the running game. Fraley chalked up the Mariners' first passing touchdown of the season, too, putting Homer on the board with a 10-yard pass to Steven Stead, who caught five passes for 101 yards.

"That gives me everything," Jake Fraley said of 6-foot-4 Stead's ability to catch the football. "Then we are able to smash it (inside) if they try and stop the pass."

Even when the Bulldogs were able to catch a break with a turnover, the Mariner defense was able to stymie the Nikiski attack.

When Nikiski's Zach Womack picked off Fraley inside the Bulldog's 10-yard line on the opening drive of the second half, there was a glimmer of a momentum change.

On the very next play, Bulldog quarterback McGahan (7 of 19 for 93 yards) was victimized over the middle by Drake, who ran the interception back for a Mariner touchdown.

Momentum change negated.

Sepp Jannotta can be reached at sjannotta@homernews.com.

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