• Large-school Lathrop crushes medium-school M’s 49-0
By Sean Pearson
A week of Mariner Homecoming festivities, bright blue and gold balloons, and a lively Friday parade and bonfire were still not enough to lift the Homer varsity football team past the Lathrop Malemutes on Saturday.
The Mariners fell 0-49 in a lopsided battle against large-school Lathrop; the Malemutes current enrollment of more than 1,200 students easily dwarfing Homer’s 383 students.
And, while the discrepancy in student populations certainly gave Lathrop a tremendous advantage, it didn’t stop the Mariners from leaving it all out on the football field.
“The game wasn’t exactly the way I expected — or hoped — it would be,” said Mariner sophomore Zach McKenna. “But I can’t ask anymore of my brothers; they played with incredible intensity and pride.”
McKenna had a strong defensive showing against Lathrop, leading Homer with 13 tackles; two of them sacks on the Malemute quarterback. In addition, junior quarterback Sheldon Hutt completed 12 of 30 passes for 141 yards and two interceptions. Senior Joe Cardoza picked up 47 yards receiving, while sophomore Josh Fisk caught five of seven passes for 41 yards.
“There were several bright spots in the game for us,” said Homer Head Coach Josh Fraley. “We had some great catches and passes, and good defensive plays.”
Fraley said he thinks his team is “forcing it” because the season has been such a tough one.
“Our men are working and trying so hard, I think they are all trying to make that big play or make every tackle,” he said. “I’m very happy and proud of our defense this year. They played great and our tackling was much better this week.”
When asked about his biggest challenge in the game, junior Connor Seay said it was the Malemute player he was up against.
“Number 81 for Lathrop,” he said. “He was twice my height and weight, and I had to cover him on defense.”
Seay had a relatively good game overall, running back four kickoffs for 80 yards.
“It was sad that this was the last homecoming game for the seniors,” Seay explained. “But we are always fired up until the end of the season, no matter how hard or how tough it is.”
McKenna agreed that it will be difficult to see the seniors leave, but was able to put a positive spin on it.
“It’s hard, but it’s a good time for the rest of us to thank them for their leadership,” he said. “They have taught a lot to us younger guys.”
Fraley said it is difficult to say goodbye to the seniors every year.
“This year was especially hard on me because of my close connection to Joey, Gabe, David, Ian and Derek,” he said.
While the Mariners’ 2013 homecoming is now a thing of the past, Fraley and his team have already moved on to this weekend’s Friday night game under the lights in Houston.
“We have to figure out offensively how to run the football better,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. If we don’t, we will continue to struggle.”
McKenna said he is eager for the team to bring home a win from Houston – and then move on to the playoffs. He maintains that, throughout it all, the most important thing to him is his football family.
“I have my brothers and the whole Mariner family backing me up,” he explained. “I would rather leave the field on crutches than ever give up on my brothers; they work too hard.”
Fraley agreed that his team works very hard, and is optimistic about their chances against the Hawks on Friday.
“I think we are a hungry and dangerous team,” he said. “We have been beaten down, abused, mistreated and outnumbered all year long. I think we will play like we have had enough.”
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