For Kodiak, the formula is simple: A win against Homer in Saturday’s home finale would clinch a second-place finish in the NLC and a berth into the medium school playoffs.
If that were to happen, Kodiak likely would travel to Juneau for a rematch against Thunder Mountain in the semfinals. The Falcons can win the Southeast Conference and clinch the conference’s only playoff berth Saturday with a win over Sitka.
In Week 4, Kodiak lost 14-13 at Thunder Mountain when they fumbled a go-ahead touchdown at the goal line.
“That is what the boys want,” Kodiak coach Jim Schnick said. “They have been saying they want to go back there and redeem themselves.
“We are looking at this game as kind of like a must-win. We don’t want it to come down to the last weekend and have to win that to try to get in. “
Saturday’s game begins at noon at Joe Floyd Track and Field.
Kodiak and Homer both enter with 2-1 conference records. The top three teams in the NLC qualify for postseason play.
Soldotna (4-0) has already clinched the NLC title and the No. 1 seed with its victory over Kodiak last week, while Kenai (1-2) is still in the mix for one of the two final spots. Houston (1-3) and Skyview (0-3) are on the outside looking in. Kenai hosts Skyview this week.
A Kodiak win on Saturday would give the Bears the tiebreaker over Homer and Kenai if all three teams finish with identical records. Kodiak edged Kenai 20-19 in Week 5.
A loss to Homer, last year’s medium-school runner-up, would not end Kodiak’s postseason hopes, it would just make the playoff picture more complicated entering the final week of the season at Skyview.
First and foremost, though, is focusing on Saturday’s game against Homer, a team that has beaten Kodiak the past two seasons.
“I always like to take care of our own business,” Schnick said. “We have the chance to lock up No. 2 this week, so let’s go get it.”
Kodiak is hoping to rebound from its 41-7 loss to Soldotna last week, its first game played on artificial turf at Joe Floyd Track and Field.
The Bears turned the ball over on their first four drives, which led to a 28-0 Soldotna lead. Kodiak had seven turnovers total.
Schnick said holding onto the ball and the play of Kodiak’s offensive line will be key against Homer.
“We need to be disciplined, play sound defense and get another great effort out of our offensive line,” Schnick said. “Watching film, they did pretty well against Soldotna, and we need to continue that effort going forward this week.”
The offensive line paved the way for 233 rushing yards against Soldotna.
Homer is coming off a 28-14 win over Skyview. The Mariners’ other NLC win was a 20-0 decision over Kenai. The Mariners’ only NLC loss was 38-8 to Soldotna in Week 4.
This is the final home appearance for seniors Jemuel Medina, Ryan Lenon, Ruben Amodo, Andrew Gregory, Rustom Dela Cruz, Eddy Burris, Dakota Wibbe, Seth Starr, Jefferson Villasenor, Todd Jones, Fredy Sorto, Kevin Monge, Jonathan Ricard, Jingo Olaes, Darren Aitolu, Tucker Bigley, Joseph Ramos, Avril Dela Cruz, Logan Owens, Josh Obas and Michael Manifo.
“This senior class is the first group of kids that I coached,” said Schnick, who was with Kodiak’s junior varsity for two seasons before becoming head coach this year.
“It is kind of special, a little bittersweet. I have been with these kids for a long time. They are pretty close to me. I would like to end their time with Kodiak, at least on this field, with a win.”
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at firstname.lastname@example.org.