The high school football season began Friday in Alaska with a big rematch from last year's postseason. Only one problem: the Palmer Moose proved to be no match for the top-ranked West Eagles.
West rocked Palmer 28-6 in a nonconference game at Anchorage Football Stadium, a contest that was a rematch of a state semifinal game last season. In other opening-night contests, Colony stopped East 23-13 in Palmer and North Pole edged West Valley 41-35 in a thriller in Fairbanks.
A year ago, West earned a narrow 26-23 semifinal win over Palmer on its way to the state championship. The Eagles took care of Palmer again Friday, when the combination of Sam Wedin and Lazono Martin proved particularly potent. The senior-sophomore duo teamed up for two first-half touchdowns.
Wedin, a senior quarterback, connected with Martin, a sophomore receiver, on scoring passes of 24 and 26 yards to help West to a 28-6 halftime lead. Wedin completed 15 of 23 passes for 220 yards in the half, and Martin collected five of them for 90 yards.
Bad news came in the third quarter, however, when Martin went down with a knee injury and didn't play again.
West scored on its first three possessions and led 28-0 with a minute left in the half. Besides the Wedin-to-Martin touchdowns, P.J. Seiu scored on a five-yard run and Jordan Murchinson added a one-yard scoring run.
Palmer found the end zone with 46 seconds left in the first half on Justin Roth's TD pass to Chase Ferris. That made it 28-6, a score that held through a scoreless second half.
In Palmer, East and Colony battled through a scoreless first quarter. The Thunderbirds led briefly in the second quarter on Alani Collins' five-yard touchdown run, but they didn't score again until 14 seconds remained in the game. In the meanwhile, Colony reeled off 23 straight points.
Colony's Logan Conway tied the game with a one-yard run in the second quarter. A fumble recovery helped the Knights took the lead for good late in the third quarter; the turnover helped set up Steven Bilafer's 39-yard touchdown pass to Tucker Looney.
Conway's second touchdown, a 15-yard run, made it 20-7 midway through the fourth quarter. Colony stretched the lead to 23-7 with Harrison Menard's 23-yard field goal with 59 seconds left.
East cut it to 23-13 on Parker Martin's 63-yard run with 14 seconds remaining.
In Fairbanks, West Valley and North Pole opened the season with a dramatic game that included a huge second half that produced 62 of the game's 76 points. There were three lead changes in the final seven minutes, two of them in the final three minutes.
North Pole's Shane Hurst provided the winning points with a three-yard run that came with 2 minutes, 3 seconds to go. At 2:29, West Valley grabbed a short-lived 35-33 led on Joshua Cummings' third touchdown run of the night, a six-yarder.
West Valley, which led 8-6 at the half, had a chance to win at the end but the Wolfpack came up empty on two plays from the North Pole 4-yard line.