Owen Mulhaney

HOUSTON — Fireworks filled the sky above Houston High School Friday night. It’s an annual show that comes minutes after the final horn of the school’s homecoming game. But this year, the fireworks were even more appropriate.

The Hawks were celebrating school history.

With a 34-8 win over Nikiski, the Hawks earned their first outright conference title and extended their winning streak to a program-record six games. Houston will also now host a playoff game for the first time since 2002.

“They’re pretty excited overall,” Houston head coach Glenn Nelson said by phone late Friday night.

Houston was in the driver’s seat in the race toward the Division III playoffs with Peninsula Conference wins over Homer, Ketchikan and Seward. But a Houston loss to Nikiski could have led to an eventual three-way tie at the top of the standings. A three-way tie means a coin flip decides with two teams advance to the playoffs, and which team is out.

“We wanted to make sure we were in charge of what happened to us,” Nelson said.

The Hawks improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in Peninsula Conference play, and now can boast their first conference title. Houston earned a share of the conference title in both 2002 and 2006.

Nikiski was eliminated from the playoff race with the loss. The Bulldogs dropped to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in conference. Ketchikan (2-1 in conference) also officially punched its playoff ticket with the Nikiski. Even with a loss to Seward next week, the Kings hold the tiebreaker against the other two teams in the conference (Homer and Nikiski) that could still finish 2-2.

Houston scored twice during a two-minute span early in the first to take a 14-0 lead.

“We’ve been preaching all week, come out fast,” Nelson said.

The Hawks led 28-0 at halftime. Nikiski notched its lone touchdown late in the game.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman editor Jeremiah Bartz at sports@frontiersman.com

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