Mariners stopped short of state title

Oct 16, 2017

Homer senior Teddy Croft (8) pitches a handoff to a teammate with Utqiagvik’s Oneahi Talaiasi (52) pressuring him Saturday in the ASAA First National Bank Division III state championship at Machetanz Field in Palmer.
Credit Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion

The Homer Mariners were just two yards shy of winning a state title Saturday.  The team faced Barrow in the First National Bowl Series Division III championship in Palmer, losing 14-20.

Homer marched about 75 yards down the field for their final drive, but the Whalers stopped Homer’s offense just shy of the end zone, ending the Mariners and Head Coach Walter Love’s 7-2 season.

Loves said there were plenty of mistakes made throughout the game, notably the boys’ lack of urgency during the final drive. He explained the team continued to huddle after the two-minute warming.

“Yea, we drove her down to the two. It was one of those games where you needed 76 yards and we got 74. At the end of the day, they stopped us and good on them,” Love said. “It was tough to move that ball up and down the field and not have the results we should of have.”

Love saidhe’s disappointed with the loss, but quickly added there was a lot to like about the 2017 season. This is the first time in five years that the Mariners have made it to state, and it’s also the first time they’ve done so in the small schools division.

“We’re not done with football yet. We’ll pull the tape and start looking at some film and going back and looking at for next year what not to do, use it as some training points,” Love said. “I guess the beautiful thing for us is that these kids got to go to the big game, got to play the high pressure situation and now we know what training points we need to go back and address.”

He saidcoaching staff will also work through the summer to refine the program for next year. Love adds there are plenty of younger players in the pipeline, and he thinks this year’s success will generate more interest, something you could see in the community as the season wore on.

Love saidmore and more fans showed up every game.

“I remember coming off our game from Eielson, the kids stopped me as they were leaving. They were like, ‘Coach, somebody was telling me good game and I’ve never seen them before.’ That’s just an amazing show of support, and I’m just so thankful and I know those kids are thankful for that,” Love explained.

Love adds he couldn’t be happier with the team’s work ethic throughout the season.