North Pole Football opens 2021 season with convincing win over Chugiak
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Week one of a football season always brings excitement and energy, but recently it has brought uncertainty. The 2020 high school football season in Alaska ended the week leading up to the State Playoffs, while week one of the 2021 season featured multiple canceled games.
That is why North Pole head coach Mike Hollett has a new perspective on his players and the game of football.
“Any opportunity we get this year to put these kids on the field is a gift, you never know when it is going to get taken away,” Hollett said. “Just to be out here together as a family is what is important. To see fans, family members getting to watch these kids play football, that’s the special thing, that is why we are out here.”
North Pole ensured to take advantage of the opportunity, controlling all three facets of the game in their 30-6 season-opening victory over the visiting Chugiak Mustangs.
Igniting the first set of fireworks that go off after a touchdown at Patriot Pride Field was senior Jesse Van Reenum, who was on the receiving end of a Devon Clark pass with perfect placement in the second quarter. A successful two-point conversion from Clark to Kaden Bostwick made it an 8-0 game.
With Chugiak knocking on the door and enough time to get one more play off before the half, sophomore linebacker Logen Bellmay snatch an interception near the goal line to keep the Mustangs out of the end zone while maintaining the one score lead, a game changing play heading into the break.
In the second half, the Patriots started to find their groove offensively, as Bostwick got enough separation from the defender for Clark to put it over the top of the defense for a 15-yard score.
The Patriots would go on to force a turnover on downs, one of five times they did so on the night. Two plays later, senior Camren Hyson took a handoff, got loose and showed off his track speed about 50 yards down the sideline for another North Pole touchdown, taking complete command on their home field.
To this point, it was three Patriot touchdowns scored by three different seniors and fellow senior Nic Clark wanted in on the action, wheeling out of the backfield to receive a pass before walking into the end zone for six points. Devon Clark then found Van Reenum on a slant route for two points, inflating their point total to 30.
“It felt amazing,” Devon Clark said of the season-opening victory. “I mean, we put the work in every single week, every single day and to come out here and win is just awesome. They worked together, they didn’t quit, they kept fighting, that’s what being a patriot is about.”
Clark tossed three touchdowns, while also securing an interception on the defensive end.
Chugiak would go on to score a touchdown with 31 seconds remaining, but that wasn’t going to spoil the week one victory for the Patriots.
The Patriots will look to carry the momentum into next weekend, when they host the Kenai Kardinals at 1 p.m. in North Pole.
Lathrop 50, Palmer 7
The Lathrop Malemutes made a statement in their season-opener in the Mat-Su Valley, putting up a 50-burgur on the Palmer Moose. Quarterback Jarren Littell threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, becoming the first player in school history to throw for a touchdown at the varsity level in all four years, according to a school official. The Malemutes will square-off against the eight-time defending Division II State Champion Soldotna Stars at 8 p.m. Friday in Fairbanks.
Nikiski 28, Eielson 27
Although the Eielson Ravens struck first in their season-opener they found themselves trailing by one point, 14-13, heading into halftime. After four quarters, the Ravens found themselves falling by one point, 28-27, a tough way to lose in week one. The Ravens will look to bounce back on Saturday when they host the Seward Seahawks at 10 a.m. on the Air Force Base.
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