The Homer Mariners are the 2022 Div. III ASAA State Football Champions
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For the first time in Homer High School football history, the Mariners have won the Division III State Football Championship, upsetting the undefeated Houston Hawks 22-20.
Homer played Houston in the second week of the season and lost 46-0, but the Mariners had a number of starters that didn’t play in that game. The early loss was the only loss to a team in their division this season and made the win even sweeter.
“We are proud of that feat, that we were able to do that,” Homer head coach Justin Zank said. “More importantly, that is a loss that we got back from earlier in the season when we played them in week two and lost 46-0. That means a little bit more getting that win back.”
The Houston Hawks had only given up 29 points all season before giving up 22 to Homer in the title game. The Mariners were led by senior quarterback Carter Tennison, who ran for two of the Mariner’s touchdowns.
“I can’t even describe it. I just love these guys. It feels great to be here with them and be a part of this team and a leader that has led them to this point,” Tennison said.
The game was a wild one, with Houston scoring on a broken play on just the second play of the game.
After that, the scoring would go back and forth with Tennison keeping his team in it by using his legs. Houston, having not trailed much this season, was down 22-13 late in the fourth quarter when they started their comeback. Keldin Nicoll caught a huge touchdown to bring the score to 22-20, but the Hawks needed to get the ball back with under a minute remaining in the game.
The onside kick was recovered by Homer, but instead of going down to ice the game, Homer got wrapped up and fumbled the ball and Houston recovered. The Hawks had four plays to try and win the game but the Homer defense stood tall and iced the game.
“Belief, I don’t know that anybody outside of our locker room believed we could do what we could do tonight — beat the undefeated team who outscored everybody by a million points. It was the belief in each other,” Zank said.
Homer has made it to the state championship game four times, but this is the first time that they have come out on top in their school’s history.
Tennison credited his offensive line, which he said is made up of mostly younger players. He said they stepped up when they needed it most.
Comments after the final buzzer proved this was a big rivalry game, besides being a championship game.
“It definitely feels sweeter. I’m not going to lie and say that I haven’t seen Tik Toks or posts about how they were going to beat us and stuff like that. It definitely made it sweet to be able to come out here and beat these guys,” Tennison said.
Homer will take home the traveling state championship trophy until next year when it will be up for grabs once again.
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