Having slayed Alaska football opponents from schools with larger enrollments, as well as those with like-size enrollments, for more than five straight years, mighty Soldotna took its remarkable winning streak south Friday against an Oregon school with nearly twice its enrollment.
The only differences for the Stars were a new location and a new victim.
Soldotna never trailed in beating Crater High of Central Point 20-7 in a game played in Crescent City, California, because of smoke from wildfires in southern Oregon, where the game was scheduled to be played.
So, the Stars (4-0) stretched their state-record winning streak to 53 games.
They have not lost a varsity game since falling to Palmer in the 2012 season-opener. They ran the table after that setback and won the medium-school state championship that year. They also won the next four medium-school state titles to give them five consecutive crowns.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the last time Soldotna lost, its current seniors were getting ready to enter seventh grade.
Also, about 30 percent of those 53 straight wins have come against schools from higher divisions. Soldotna during its streak has won at least 15 times against large-school Alaska teams and, now, once against an Oregon team that plays in Class 5A in a state in which 6A is the classification for schools with the largest enrollments.
Under a change instituted by the Alaska School Activities Association, Soldotna now plays in what is called Division II (formerly medium-school division). The biggest schools, like the six in Anchorage's Cook Inlet Conference, play in Division I. Division III is for the football schools with the smallest enrollments.
All four of Soldotna's wins this season have come against bigger schools. It previously beat CIC schools West, Dimond and South by a cumulative 137-13.
Soldotna, which operates an offense that is a version of the wing-T, on Friday prospered courtesy of touchdown runs from sophomore running back Aaron Faletoi, senior quarterback Brandon Crowder and senior running back Brenner Furlong.
Faletoi and Crowder furnished a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. Crater, playing its season opener and employing an offense that often featured five wide receivers, cut its deficit on a touchdown run from sophomore quarterback Trevor Davis.
But Furlong's 5-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter pushed Soldotna's lead to 20-7. The Stars' scoring drive included a fourth-down conversion in its own territory, courtesy of a Crowder run.
The Stars lost senior center Eli Lovelace to an apparent leg injury just before halftime. Injury hit the Comets too — Davis was knocked out of the game late in the third quarter.
Soldotna's remaining regular-season schedule is all against Division II teams. They play next at Palmer, then face Kodiak, Eagle River and rival Kenai Central.