Defense of the North Pole dominates Kenai on a 36-0 course | Sports
It has been an emotional week for the North Pole community as recent NPHS graduate and former football player Patriot Isaiah Harding was tragically killed in a car crash earlier this week at the age of 20. The team honored him with 36 seconds of silence before the game in recognition of the jersey number Harding wore for the Patriots.
After that, the team honored Harding’s memory with a dominant effort on the pitch.
The Patriot defense was smashing from the start, running back Via Skipps ran 122 yards on just seven carries, and North Pole clinched a 36-0 victory over Kenai on Saturday afternoon at home. Head coach Mike Hollett noted that scoring 36 was just another way the team honored Harding.
“Isaiah was the kind of kid you wanted to train,” Hollett said. “It was the kid who showed up early, went through adversity, knew how to be positive, always had a smile on his face. Everyone loved Isaiah. Isaiah was a kid you loved to play with, that you loved to play for, and he was going to do great things in our community and our community is better than there is.
The game got off to an emotional start as Camren Hyson kicked off the opening 80 yards from home to give the Patriots an 8-0 lead after converting two points just 15 seconds into the game.
After an unsuccessful possession by Kenai, Hollett noted that the Patriots’ emotions began to flow. North Pole appeared to have scored on a 67-yard touchdown pass from Devon Clark to Kaden Bostwick, but play was called off due to two penalties. This training for North Pole ended up taking the entire first quarter and involved nine penalties, including six by North Pole.
It was a weird workout all around as the Patriots initially had to kick the ball but Kenai missed it and North Pole managed to recover to extend the practice. Skipps later scored on a five-yard rush, but the game was called off due to a wait call. It took a fourth down conversion from Clark to complete the first quarter, and a one-yard touchdown from Clark to start the second to end practice and put North Pole in a 14-0 lead. .
Kenai’s next ride was also strange. They initially went for a punt, but the kick was blocked by the North Pole. A Patriot player then recovered the ball but lost control resulting in a North Pole fumble. Kenai recovered and continued to ride. They still failed to convert on a fourth try.
The Patriots managed to calm their emotions just before halftime. After a 20-yard run by Skipps, Clark found Josh Dutra for a 25-yard pass into the end zone to give the Pats a 20-0 lead with 1:11 remaining before the midpoint. Kenai managed to string together a practice after that, but the threat ended when Korbin Wallace intercepted Kenai’s pass as the clock expired.
After a four-and-out from Kenai to start the number two half, Skipps only needed one play to take the ball 69 yards and give the Pats six. A successful two-point conversion made him 28-0 at the North Pole.
North Pole reached 36 thanks to a 5-yard touchdown pass from Clark to Colin Drumhiller at the end of the third quarter and the game went by a timer in the fourth.
Hollett said he was impressed with the summer camps football squad and knew he had a strong senior squad this year. In his mind, the Patriots shouldn’t sneak up on anyone. Still, the North Pole hasn’t been 2-0 in a while and certainly not after blasting its first two opponents. The ENSP was ranked fifth in the state and should no longer be seen as an outsider.
North Pole will visit Eagle River on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Contact Hart Pisani at 459-7530