WASILLA — The Wasilla High School football program has entered a new era.
Former offensive coordinator Matt Jaronik was promoted to head coach during the offseason, and the Warriors are now a Division II program following the Alaska Schools Activities Association’s latest reclassification efforts.
“I’m glad to finally get the chance,” Jaronik said of his opportunity to lead a program.
Jaronik, a 2010 graduate of Colony High School and former Knights football standout, has spent the last six seasons in the Valley as an assistant coach. He was with his alma mater for four seasons, before making the move to Wasilla.
Jaronik replaces former Wasilla head coach Ken Ottinger, who stepped down during the offseason to devote more time to family. Ottinger is also the head coach of the Wasilla High baseball team and has led the Wasilla American Legion baseball program since 2016.
After Ottinger accepted the Wasilla football gig prior to the 2019 season, one of his first moves was luring Jaronik to the Warriors.
“I’m excited for him to fully take over the reins and run with it. The program’s not going to change too much. He’s going to put his little spin on it, and I think the program will only grow. They absolutely made the right choice,” Ottinger said of the administration’s call to promote Jaronik.
Jaronik spent the last two seasons as Wasilla’s offensive coordinator.
“Being here has been great. I absolutely love it,” Jaronik said.
Jaronik said the experience within the program has helped him take the next step in his coaching career.
“It’s nice to be able to have a base to build off of,” Jaronik said. “A lot of the stuff we’ve done this year are how things have been in the past, and how we can tweak things going forward.”
Jaronik, Alaska’s 2009 utility player of the year, played four years of college football, the last three at Luther College in Iowa.
“The thing that has helped me the most is the preparation side of it, the scouting, the game planning,” Jaronik said of his experience at the college level.
Jarniok’s Warriors also have a new home in ASAA’s Division II level.
“I think we’re in a good spot for where our school sits,” Jaronik said, referring to the school enrollment.
Wasilla is now part of the Northern Lights Conference, which also includes Palmer, Soldotna, Chugiak and Eagle River.
“We’re going to be in a competitive conference,” Jaronik said. “I’m happy about the competition level in our conference. That is going to be good.”
Wasilla (1-0) will make the trip to Kodiak for the second week of the season and will face the Bears Friday at 6 p.m. In other Valley action, Colony (0-1) hosts Bartlett (0-1) Friday at 7 p.m., Eagle River (1-0) is at Houston Friday at 7 p.m., and Palmer (0-1) is at West Valley (0-0) Saturday at 7 p.m.
Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.