Last week, I borrowed the Wasilla American Legion baseball team’s moniker and called the Wasilla football squad the Road Warriors.
Appropriate. The Warriors took a page from the songbook of Willie Nelson and were “On the Road” again for three straight weeks. But I’m expecting something different to be blaring in the Warriors locker room this week. Maybe some Motley Crue? The Warriors are “Home Sweet Home” for the first time since the opening week of the season.
I am sure at some point during that rough road loss in Juneau last week, the Warriors were clicking their red cleats together.
There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.
Saturday’s homecoming bout against Chugiak will come after three really, really long weeks for the Warriors. The brutal stretch started with an impromptu road game at North Pole in Week 2. The game was originally scheduled to be at Wasilla High. The Friday night game was cancelled due to poor air quality caused by the wildfires burning in the Willow area. Rather than rolling the dice and waiting for the possibility of better conditions, the Warriors opted to board the bus and head north. Only a couple of hours separated the decision and the departure so the Warriors could play at North Pole the following day.
The Warriors then needed an airplane to get to their game in each of the next two weeks. As Wasilla attempted to make the trip to Kodiak, the Road Warriors were thrown another curveball.
More bad weather.
This time instead of a long bus ride, the Warriors were in for a longer wait at the airport. Wasilla’s flight to Kodiak was delayed four times. The Warriors were just one more delay away from being forced to turn around and go home. But after 26 hours, the Warriors finally had the chance to board the flight and face the Bears in a matinee game.
In two weeks the Warriors boarded a plane more than a lot of Valley kids have during their lifetime.
The good news for Wasilla is it finished 2-1 during that three-game stretch. The not so good news, Wasilla dropped to 0-1 in Chugach Conference play with a lopsided loss at Juneau. Yes, now that Rich Sjoroos is once again the head coach of a Capitol City prep football program, Juneau is once again legit. Sjoroos is the former head coach of the old Juneau-Douglas program and helped the Crimson Bears maintain as one of Alaska’s best during his tenure. Now Sjoroos is the head coach of the Juneau co-op program that includes players from Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain high schools.
Again, yes Juneau is good. But I have to think that three long road trips finally caught up with Wasilla, and it was a factor.
Speaking of Juneau. The team has a new mascot. They are the Huskies. It’s part of a saga that’s more than two years old. After ASAA approved the move to create one co-op prep football program, students from both Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain picked Thunder Bears as the new mascot and identity of Juneau football. It made sense as an easy combination of the Thunder Mountain Falcons and Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears. But it was not long before urbandictionary.com told us all that Thunder Bears is actually an offensive term that had already been coined by offensive people. I still wonder why they didn’t go with Crimson Falcons. A Falcon can be red, right? The Atlanta Falcons are.
After that, the Juneau team played the entire 2019 season with a name or mascot.
So now the Juneau players are the Huskies. No offense Huskies, but I can’t figure this one out. I’ve only been to Juneau once. It was on a football trip actually. But are there huskies in Juneau? I know there are a few mushers from Southeast, but when I think Juneau I don’t really think Huskies.
Redington, yes. Huskies is a no-brainer.
Kotzebue Huskies. Yep, that makes sense. Delta Huskies. Another fit.
Wainright, Akiachak, Savoonga.
Yes, yes, yes.
I know there’s some historical significance with a connection to the old Douglas High. But it just seems odd. On the other hand, how many panthers have you seen roaming the woods in the Glennallen area?
Back to football.
The Wasilla-Chugiak game is a key conference matchup. Chugiak is 2-0 in Chugach play after back-to-back conference wins over Bartlett and Colony. The Mustangs can lock up home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a win Saturday. On the flipside, the Warriors will be hungry to bounce back to .500 in conference play.
In other Chugach action, Colony hosts Bartlett Friday at 7 p.m. Both teams will try to avoid 0-2 starts in conference play.
Palmer begins the most important stretch of the season with the first of its three straight Railbelt Conference games Friday. The Moose hosts North Pole at 7 p.m. Palmer bounced back from a 1-2 start with a 47-0 win over Kodiak last week.
Truth: Palmer is in a must-win situation against the Patriots. This is Palmer’s lone conference home game this season. Apparently, someone within the greater Palmer area must have ticked off the schedule maker. The Moose have to head north to face Lathrop and West Valley in back–to-back weeks. I get it. Four conference teams, with three in the Interior and one in the Valley. Palmer is going to have to go to Fairbanks twice every other year. But at least spread it out folks.
Houston and Redington continue to be a great storyline in Valley football. The Hawks and the Huskies are a combined 7-0, and undoubtedly two of the top Division III teams in Alaska. Houston hosts Seward Friday at 7 p.m., a contest that follows a huge win at Homer last week. Redington is at Eielson Saturday afternoon. I’m on the Redington bandwagon. I’m also on the Houston bandwagon. I can be on two DIII bandwagons right? Anyway the Redington-Eielson game is intriguing. The fourth-year varsity program is traveling north to face a Ravens squad led by David DeVaughn, who is now tied for third place all time with 130 career victories.
Longtime former Palmer head coach Rod Christiansen is at the top of the ladder with 159.
Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.