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Kenai, Skyview football to face off; SoHi faces Palmer test

When he was hired as Kenai Central's new head coach before this season, John Marquez said he was going to continue the Kardinals' successful tradition.

Heading into Saturday's 2 p.m. Northern Lights Conference tilt at Skyview, there is one tradition of success on which Marquez is making no promises.

That tradition? The Kards have yet to yield a point to third-year Skyview head coach Eric Pomerleau.

"Skyview's got a very potent offense," said Marquez, who made his coaching debut with a 42-22 nonconference victory over Eielson. "They've got a receiver that can run and catch, a quarterback that throws the ball very well, and a running back that can get it done on the inside."

The Panthers, who like Kenai play in the medium-schools division, made a statement by going on the road to defeat large-schools opponent Wasilla 32-20 on opening weekend.

Albert White had six catches for 121 yards, while quarterback Jordan Jones hit 9 of 19 for 173 yards. Jasen Suonvieri had 178 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

While Marquez is new at head coach, Kenai defensive coordinator Jim Dawson is still around. Pomerleau knows what to expect from the defense.

"You have to match their intensity," he said. "They really attack the ball."

Skyview's defense will have to deal with Kenai's spread attack. Quarterback AJ Hull used the system brought by Marquez to run for two touchdowns and hit a pair of long pass plays on opening day.

"We have multiple threats, not just one or two guys," Marquez said. "We have four or five guys on offense. Who are you going to key on?"

The Skyview scorekeeper could be in for a busy day. Pomerleau said it could be a high-scoring, Big 12-style contest.

"Games in that league are 45-35," Pomerleau said. "It very well could be that depending on how both teams execute and perform."

Marquez agreed.

"This is one where as a coach, it's intense," he said. "As a fan, it's exciting for them. There's no pressure. They just get to see big plays."

Both teams are healthy for the game. Kenai also will have the services of fullback and linebacker Grayden Mendenhall for the first time this season.

Soldotna at Palmer, 7 p.m. Saturday

The game features the Stars, the top team in the middle-small schools in the Alaska Sports Broadcasting Network poll, and the Moose, No. 4 for the big schools.

Soldotna thumped large-schools foe Eagle River 41-16 to open the season, while Palmer went on the road to defeat East 14-0.

Soldotna coach Galen Brantley Jr. said Palmer is big, talented and well-coached. Palmer coach Rod Christiansen and his offensive and defensive coordinators have been together for over 20 years.

Behind the big offensive line is Jackson Buresh, a quarterback who ran and threw for a score in the opener.

"He's really our biggest challenge," Brantley Jr. said.

The coach said the easiest way to stop Buresh is to keep him off the field. To do that, the Stars will look to grind out yards on the ground. He said his squad cannot afford a slow start, like against Eagle River. The Stars still rushed for 281 yards, with Auston Tennis leading the way with 123 yards.

"The challenge is really if we'll do well enough up front to eat up enough yards to make it a ballgame," Brantley Jr. said.

Brantley Jr. also would like to see the team make it through the game healthy. Dustin Poole, a captain, remains out with a leg injury sustained during the Eagle River contest.

Valdez at Seward, 2 p.m. Saturday

Both the Buccaneers and Seahawks are looking to get on the winning track in the Greatland Conference after opening with nonconference losses last week.

Seward lost 45-0 at Lathrop, while Valdez lost 54-14 at Homer.

The Seahawks had just 100 yards of total offense against the large-schools Malemutes. Valdez put up 235 yards of offense against the medium-schools Mariners.