In 2019 on my old radio show, “The Valley Sports Huddle,” I made a prediction. I said within three years, Redington and Houston will play for Alaska’s Division III prep football title.
As it turns out, I was right.
Redington faces Houston in the ASAA Division III championship game Saturday at noon at Service High School in Anchorage.
I was known to make what we called “bold predictions” during my 10-plus years hosting the show alongside my radio partner, Jason McCourt. Some were a bit more far-fetched than others. Some, honestly, were kind of ridiculous. But this statement is one I’ve felt strong about since the moment I said it.
By that time, Houston had already established itself as one of the best Division III teams in the state. The Hawks advanced to the state championship game for the first time in school history in 2016, and flew through the 2019 season ultimately beating Barrow 41-8 in the state championship game. With that win, the Hawks capped a historic 2019 season in which they rewrote the Houston football record book. Houston beat Barrow on the road for the first time and scored its first win over Alaska small-schools power Eielson. Houston, which first fielded a football team in 1997, finished undefeated for the first time, and the Hawks, 10-0, earned their school its first state football title.
Houston was also arguably the favorite to win it all in 2020. But that season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier in 2019, I broadcasted Redington’s first game of the season, a win over Nikiski, on the radio. I remember looking down at the roster, thinking to myself, how the heck are some of these kids only sophomores? At that point I knew the Huskies had a bright future on the turf.
In the past seven years, since the team’s debut, Redington has made tremendous progress. The Huskies didn’t have a win in the program during their first two tears. In 2017, it was the season of firsts with their first win that came on the road against Monroe. A few weeks later Redington beat Seward to notch its first win on the road. The Huskies finished the season 4-4.
In 2019, Redington finished above .500 for the first time with a 4-3 record.
Last year, Redington beat Valdez to score its first playoff victory in school history. But that was right before the season was canceled due to COVID.
This season Redington used its first win over Houston to earn its first conference title in school history. The Huskies scored a big win over Kenai in the Division III quarterfinals last week.
Houston finished second in the conference and needed a win at Monroe to advance to the state title game for the third time in five years. The Hawks scored 14 unanswered points to beat the Rams.
When the Huskies and Hawks clash on Saturday, it will mark the fifth time that a pair of Valley teams meet in a state championship game. In 1989, Palmer edged Wasilla in the state hockey championship. Palmer and Colony played for a girls basketball state title in 1997 and 1999, with each rival winning a championship. In 2007, Wasilla beat Colony to win the boys basketball state championship.
I can also easily make another prediction. A Valley team will win a state football title for only the third time since ASAA sanctioned the state playoffs in 1990. Palmer won it all in 1995, when football was a single-classification sport. Houston won the 2019 crown.
Palmer (1996, 2005, 2007, 2016, 2017), Colony (2000, 2006), Wasilla (1999) and Houston (2016) also played for a state championship and finished as the runner-up.
Regardless of what happens Saturday, this is a game I have been looking forward to for the past three seasons.
Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at email@example.com.