On their way to another state football title, the Soldotna Stars were so masterful with their ball-handling skills they even fooled the referees on one play on a frigid Saturday night at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium.
Using ball fakes and numerous ball carriers, the Stars rolled over Homer 62-20 in the medium-school state championship football game.
Led by Drew Gibbs 153 yards on eight carries, Soldotna steamrolled to 31 first downs and 447 rushing yards.
Homer (7-3), which lost to Kenai in last season's title game and beat Thunder Mountain last weekend to reach the championship game, finished with 125 rushing yards.
Soldotna (9-1), which reached the title game by beating Kodiak in the semifinals, took control with four second-quarter touchdowns to lead 34-0 at halftime. It was 55-6 after three quarters.
The game marked the 13th time the Stars have played in a state championship game and the fifth time they've won one. Their last title came in 2010.
Homer looked as though it might make a game of it early marching 64 yards on its opening drive before being stonewalled by a Soldotna goal-line stand.
The Stars took possession on their own 23 after recovering a Homer fumble on a fourth-down play, then quickly made the Mariners pay with a 53-yard run from Reid Schmelzenbach (130 rushing yards). That helped set up the game's first touchdown, a 5-yard run from Gibbs.
An inadvertant whistle from a referee called back one Soldotna touchdown in the first half, because the referee didn't realize which Soldotna player had the ball. No matter, the Stars managed to score on the next play.
Snowfall from earlier in the day created a slippery playing surface and freezing temperatures made it difficult to hold onto the ball. The teams combined for eight fumbles, Homer losing four and Soldotna losing two.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
Homer 0 0 6 14-- 20
Soldotna 7 27 21 7 -- 62
Soldotna --Gibbs 5 run, (Grothe kick), 2:01.
Soldotna -- Miller 22 pass from Fowler, (kick blocked) 10:58.
Soldotna -- Schmelzenbach 2 run, (kick fail), 9:53.
Soldotna -- Fowler 1 run (Schmelzenbach pass from Fowler), 3:46.
Soldotna -- Calloway 3 run (Grothe kick), :50.
Homer -- Cardoza 2 run (run fail), 10:28.
Soldotna -- Gibbs 79 run (Grothe kick), 6:33
Soldotna -- Calloway 3 run (Grothe kick), 5:04
Soldotna -- Fowler 16 run (Grothe kick), :39.9.
Homer -- Bowe 32 pass from Hutt (Cordova run), 8:33.
Soldotna -- Fenton 14 run (Asimakopoulos kick), 2:20.
Homer -- Bowe 20 pass from Hutt, 0:00.
By JEREMY PETERS