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Flag football marks return of activities in the Fairbanks School District

Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 7:14 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Since August 31, there hasn’t been any sporting events in Interior, Alaska, however that all changed after the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District adopted new guidelines from the Alaska School Activities Association. The first sports to play under these new protocols was flag football on Thursday

West Valley @ North Pole

The West Valley Wolfpack took on the North Pole Patriots in a tight matchup. In the past few seasons, North Pole typically struggled to get points on the board, but in this game, they found the end-zone on three different occasions to put the pressure on the Wolfpack. West Valley on the other hand have one of the best flag football quarterbacks in the area with Tessa Lindberg.

The red and gold fought back from numerous deficits and when it mattered most, the senior quarterback relied on her arm to get her team within striking distance. In the final moments of the fourth quarter, Lindberg found freshman Kameron Bartlett on a deep pass to make the score 20-18. West Valley needed only two points to tie, but Head Coach Travis Walker put trust in his offense and went for three. Lindberg was able to set up Ellaissa Caguiat for the game-winning score as they won 21-20.

Ellaissa Caguiat celebrates after scoring the game-winning points for West Valley.
Ellaissa Caguiat celebrates after scoring the game-winning points for West Valley.(Aaron Walling/KTVF/September 17, 2020)

“I told them, like this is for the win.” said Lindberg.

“So I was just trying to focus and when Tessa threw it I was just saying, ‘catch this, catch this,’ and then there you go. I caught it and it was pretty exciting.” said Caguiat.

North Pole may have lost in the game but they weren’t down on themselves because they were close to not even having a season at all. In early August, the North Pole Patriots mounted a social media campaign to bring in more players because they were short on numbers. A month later, the Patriots were able to have their first game of the year.

North Pole huddles after a timeout.
North Pole huddles after a timeout.(Aaron Walling/KTVF/September 17, 2020)

“The community did wonders for us, I mean we put it out there on social media and I think we got 4,000 views on it,” said North Pole Head Coach Mat Croan. "It worked, whatever happened with that it worked.”

North Pole was led by the play of sophomore Alicia Guzman who scored on an 85-yard touchdown run and she finished with two rushing TDs on the night.

Hutchison Hawks @ Lathrop Malemutes

The Lathrop Malemutes did not look like they missed a beat during the three week break, as senior Rachel Wisel was on point against the Hutchison Hawks. Wisel was able to find Torrin Johnson-Oates on two touchdown throws in Lathrop’s 31-0 victory.

“Knowing that my sports can be taken away, it was kind of like part of my life being taken away," said Wisel after activities returned to the Fairbanks School District. "That is what I live for, to keep up my grades, it is a big motivation. We can play sports, and it is just kind of like an ego of energy.”

Lathrop on the offensive side of the ball.
Lathrop on the offensive side of the ball.(Jordan Rodenberger/KTVF/September 17, 2020)

Seniors on both sides of the field were in limbo on whether the season would return but after the change in guidelines from ASAA, student-athletes were able to return to the fields.

“Emotionally, I just think it is awesome," said Hutch’s Natalie Clemente. "I think every person learns so much from it, you can take away sportsmanship, leadership, you can learn a whole bunch of stuff. I’m going to college for track and cross country so to have this last season as my senior year, it felt really, really awesome. A great way to end, even if it is short, it is just a great way to end.”

The next games on the schedule are set for September 22 with Lathrop taking on West Valley at 6 P.M. while North Pole faces Hutchison.

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.

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