Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 5:59 PM on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mariners fall to Kenai in championship game

By Logan Tuttle
Morris News Service - Alaska


Photos by Brian Smith, Morris News Service

Homer Mariner Dyllan Day tries to break a tackle by a Kenai Central High School defender.

The Homer Mariners came up short Saturday in their first trip to a football state championship game. Kenai Central defeated Homer 26-14 at Chugiak High School in the medium-schools First National Bowl.

"It was intense, definitely intense," Homer senior running back Hoss Frank said.

It was the second straight year Homer's season ended with a loss to Kenai. Last season, the Kardinals topped the Mariners in the semifinals of the small-schools playoffs.

Homer turned the ball over twice in the first half, which led to two Kardinals touchdowns. Kenai sophomore running back Levi Hansen scored with 6:49 left in the half for a 14-0 lead.

"We knew we had to get turnovers, and we did," Kenai Coach John Marquez said.

Homer answered back with a 55-yard run from senior quarterback Robin Glosser to cut the gap to 14-8 going into halftime. Glosser was joined by senior running back Dyllan Day as the point scorers for Homer, with Day's touchdown coming with 7:15 left in the game.

The Kardinals had far more championship experience coming into the game, having won five small-schools state titles. Homer's introduction to the championship atmosphere was not what held the Mariners back, Homer Coach Cam Wyatt said. It was mental mistakes.

"It was just execution," he said. "Everything they did, we taught this weekend — and the boys did not execute at the same level, simple as that."

Despite the scoreboard, the Mariners kept battling until the final whistle.

"Our guys didn't give up, so I was proud of that. That's the best thing about it — my guys didn't give up on me," Frank said.

Mariners' turnovers that led to the Kardinals' points in the first half gave Homer an uphill fight.

"We went in prepared and we just didn't come out winners," Glosser said. "There were a lot of key plays like the fumbles in the first half and the first (Kenai) touchdown."

Glosser echoed Frank's never-give-up attitude.

"We played our hearts out," Glosser said. "That's why we're here, to do that."

Both teams had tremendous support from their communities. Homer senior Erik Rosencrans said it was a special experience.

"Seeing all my fans there, cheering for us, it was something I never felt before in anything really, it was just awesome," he said.

"Is there anyone left in Homer right now?" Frank said after the game.

Rosencrans said he was proud to be part of a team that was the first to represent Homer in the championship game.

"I loved being a part of it and everything, I just wish we would've gotten the win," he said. "It was great to be the first team to ever go there and everything, but I just don't have the same feeling as if we would've gotten the victory."

Wyatt said the championship game will help the program move forward.

"Though this is the end for some seniors, this is the beginning for the rest," Wyatt said. "So their season starts today.

"It's an end for some, but it's a beginning for the younger boys."

The game ended a stellar season for the Mariners.

"We have a tremendous amount to celebrate," Wyatt said. "We have the best season record of the program ever, first time we've ever made it to the state championship game.

"We have a lot to celebrate, and we're going to, because it's important to finish that way."