ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - West and Bartlett will meet in the Division I state football semifinals this Saturday at 2:00 PM for the KTUU tailgate tour game of the week. This will be the Eagles and Golden Bears third straight year meeting in the state playoffs, and the past two meetings were decided by eight points.
This will also be a rematch of last year’s Division I state championship game where the Golden Bears won 40-33.
West High head coach Tim Davis is no stranger to success, winning three state championships since 2010, and taking seven trips to the title game in the process. In recent playoff memory Davis’ team has had a flare for the dramatic, winning last year’s semifinal over East on a fourth-quarter Hail Mary, and in 2016 beat Bartlett in the semifinals by just one point, 28-27.
This year’s Eagles team is led by Quarterback Bubba Mendoza, otherwise known as ‘Big Game Bubba,’ who went 9 of 14 passing, threw for 178 yards and 3 touchdowns in just three quarters of play in a 43-8 win over Wasilla.
The Golden Bears look to ride their dynamic run game all the way to a second consecutive Division I state championship, something that hasn’t been done since Dimond High in 2000 and 2001. Bartlett will rely heavily on its two senior running backs Elijah Lear and Hunter Cargill. Lear had 5 touchdowns in a dominating victory over Service 70-32.
In the other Division I semifinal game, East kicks off against Colony. The Thunderbirds look to return to the state championship for the first time since 2016, when they won it all. East defeated Chugiak 49-21 in the quarterfinals, while the Knights shut out South 47-0.
David vs. Goliath?
The Division II state championship game kicks off Saturday between Eagle River and Soldotna. The two programs don’t have much in common from a historical standpoint. This will be the Wolves' first state championship appearance in school history, while the Stars look to win their 7th straight Div. II state title.
Eagle River continued its Cinderella season last weekend, beating Lathrop with a game-winning touchdown catch from Quanard Cox. A big part of the Wolves’ success this season has been Ryan Adkins' passing ability, throwing for 1,520 yards and 22 touchdowns this season -- a school record. The senior quarterback also threw for 420 yards against Kenai High School, a single-game school record.
Soldotna is known for its deceptive run game, losing just one game since 2012, and defeated Palmer last weekend 55 - 21 behind a high-powered offense that had 542 total yards.
Eagle River vs. Soldotna 11:30 a.m. – Palmer High School (Division II State Championship Game)
West @ Bartlett 2:00 p.m. -- KTUU Tailgate Tour
Colony @ East 2:00 p.m.
Barrow vs. Eielson 3:00 p.m. -- Palmer High School (Div. III State Championship Game)