FAIRBANKS-The Lathrop Malemutes are in the high school football playoffs for the first time in a decade. It will be David versus Goliath in a since. The Malemutes face no.1 West Anchorage tomorrow at 7 pm in Anchorage Football Stadium.
The Eagles have won six straight after stating 0-2. Those six wins include victories over the last two state champsions South and Service. When West beat those to squads they both ranked number one at the time the Eagles played them.
Lathrop started the year 4-0 but have gone 1-3 in their last four. The Malemutes' signature wins include Dimond and the Dog Bowl win over West Valley. The team, especially the seniors, see a chance to shock the Alaska high school football world.
"I've been four years and I looked up to a lot guys coming through but none of those guys have had a winning season or ever made it to the playoffs," senior defensive end Jeremish Webb said. He even took a part of a popular Drake song that pretty much sums up Lathrop's season. "It means a lot coming from the bottom now we're here."
Senior running back Jociece Cannon, who has a knack for playmaking in the running game, believes the offense is as explosive as any.
"When we're all playing together and we're not like down, we're amazing. I believe we have one of the best offenses when we're focused and have our heads set." Cannon said.
"The fact that we made playoffs is huge," senior quarterback Robert Tanner said. "But I feel like our team is not done yet. We all know it's a serious time, it's a serious game. As long as we win it, it should be easier from now on."
Lathrop head coach Rusty Hams is familiar with this situation. He defeated an undefeated West team a few years ago while coaching at North Pole. The caveat is that this Lathrop team is new to the postseason making their first appearance in a decade. His Patriot squad was a yearly contender with playoff experience. Ham feels that this Lathrop team has a chance to make history and break away from Lathrop's lean postseason years.
"We can make history here with a championship. It's never been done. Just to get to the semis would almost be making history here so I'm looking forward to breaking history," Ham said.