The Homer Mariners are headed into the third week of the football season, and with a new head coach, things are looking good for the young group of players. Shop teacher Walter Love took over the team this year after moving from Oklahoma, where he coached youth league and middle school football for the past 15 years.
Love says he didn’t expect to get back into coaching in Alaska.
“You know in Oklahoma, coaching in football is a little more stressful. I really wanted to focus on my teaching, and this just sort of happened,” he explained.
He says the team is young, but Love explains he’s looking to cultivate those younger players. He also wants to build on the Raiders youth football program in town to get kids 14 and under interested in high school football.
“While that generates a lot of interest, it is your high school senior varsity football team that really drives the legacy,” he said. “We’re not very senior heavy, although our leadership is in the senior positions. We’re coaching a lot of young boys right now. The future for Homer is very bright.”
The team is 1-1 so far. They lost their home opener against Kodiak, but Love says the boys are coming off an exciting win over one of the better teams in the state, beating Barrow 26-14.
Love has a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season. The Mariners face Seward, Nikiski, Voznesenka and Redington for their conference games, and playoffs will begin in October.
“Homer historically has never hosted a home first-round playoff game. We hope to change that,” Love said. “The last best record Homer ever put up was 6-2, and that’s when they were still medium school. So, we have our work cut out for us.”
The Mariners will take on Valdez on Saturday and will head down to Ketchikan in Southeast Alaska next week.