Lathrop Football is heading back to Anchorage to defend state title

Malemutes third straight championship appearance
Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 3:29 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Dominant might be an understatement to describe the Lathrop Malemutes 2022 football season. Outscoring their opposition 386-63, they ended their regular season, a perfect, 8-0 and had home field advantage in the ASAA Division Two semi finals.

The only thing standing between the Malemutes and their third straight trip to the championship game, was the Chugiak Mustangs. The Malemutes had already seen Chugiak once in the regular season (a 49-3 victory.)

The semifinals game with Chugiak was another dominating performance winning 35-0 over the Mustangs. Now, the only thing standing between the Malemutes and a repeat title of the ASAA Division Two Football Championship is the Soldotna Stars.

“If we get our heads and hearts right, and we’re prepared and play well, this game is super winnable, yes?” asked head coach, Luke Balash at the end of practice this week.

“Yes coach!” the team unanimously responded.

The Stars will be eager to get their revenge on the Malemutes from last season’s 39-28 state title loss, which ended the Stars eight straight state championships. This will be the first time this season these two teams will meet. The Malemutes will be facing a Soldotna offense notorious for their “Wing-T” playbook, but the Lathrop prepped all week and feel ready for the test.

“For this game, you have to really focus on your keys,” said senior, Jacob Johnson.

“Reading our keys is the biggest part about it,” added Aaron Johnson.

“Stick to your keys, and don’t look in the backfield. Look at the guy you’re supposed to be covering. It’s as simple as that. Just stay disciplined,” finalized Tyler Clooten.

The questions of back-to-back championships have swirled around for almost a year now, but coach Balash had never ruled the possibility as either realistic or impossible.

“There’s one way of thinking that says, ‘If you do good, I’ll love you.’ There’s another way of thinking that says, ‘I love you. Therefore, you’re going to do good.’ stated Balash. “That’s where we’re at. We want to love each other, this game, this challenge, and not be afraid to fail. We want to go down there, pour our hearts out on the field.”

The rematch is set, tomorrow at noon. The Stars and Malemutes will play for the ASAA Division Two State Championship at Service High School in Anchorage.

“At the end of the day, it’s so much more than winning,” ended Balash. “We want it to really be about just being great.”