Story last updated at 3:28 p.m. Thursday, September 12, 2002

Drake runs to record, Mariners roll
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

Take away Mariner tailback David Drake's first two touchdown runs against visiting Seward on Saturday and the Homer High School football team would still have notched its fourth win in five tries this season. Take away those two runs and Drake would have been a grind-it-out runner who totaled 125 yards on an average of 4 yards a carry on the day.

Oh, and wipe those two runs off the books and Drake would have still easily broken the 7-year-old Mariner single-season rushing mark.

But those two touchdown runs -- a 66-yard jaunt followed by a 53-yard ramble -- were something to behold with Drake showing his quick outside step as he turned the corner and twice bolted toward the goal line.

And with those two runs, Drake was as flashy as he needed to be as he launched the Mariners toward a 52-0 nonconference beating of the Seahawks, who fell to 2-3.

"We're really happy for David," senior guard Josh Fraley said of Drake surpassing the Mariner single-season rushing record of 867 yards set by Shelby Sims' in 1995. "He's a great running back, and he's one of the most selfless guys you'll ever meet. That makes it really easy for guys to go out and block for him."

The Mariner offensive success thus far has been tethered to the dominating play of that offensive line, which has shown the ability to blow open big holes for Drake and fullback Adam Crum, among others.

Fraley said the key for the linemen is the confidence that they have in each other.

"It makes it really easy because you know that everyone else in that line is going to take care of his assignment," he said.

That confidence will be tested on Friday when the Soldotna Stars come to town for the Mariners' first Northern Lights Conference game of the season.

The Stars, currently the state's top-ranked small schools team, are also 4-1 on the season and are coming off a decisive 49-12 win over cross-town rival Skyview. Meanwhile, the Mariners come into the contest ranked No. 3 after three consecutive shutouts during which they have averaged 56 points a game.

The Mariner defense, which put up eight points of its own behind a safety and Crum's 30-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, ultimately held the Seahawks to just 142 yards.

Offensively, with the exception of Jake Fraley touchdown passes to Steven Stead and Adam Crum, it was all Drake -- 244 yards on 33 carries and four touchdowns.

With a state-best 1,019 yards rushing on the season and three all-important conference games left to play before the playoffs, Drake will likely continue to raise the bar for future Mariner running backs. Drake's 120 carries and 16 touchdowns are also tops in Alaska.

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

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