Lathrop football outmatched in state championship game

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Lathrop Malemutes powered their way through the Railbelt Conference and steamrolled Eagle River in the semifinals of the playoffs. That is when they met the now eight-time defending state champion Soldotna Stars in the title game. Quarterback Jace Henry generated over 200 yards on the ground and 3 touchdowns, but it was not nearly enough to keep up with Soldotna’s high powered offense, as the Stars went on to win 69-23, adding on to their already historic dynasty. Soldotna has now won eight straight state titles and 12 of the last 14 between small and medium schools.
Lathrop did not come into the game intimidated and let Soldotna know early that they came to play.
After Stars found the end zone on the opening drive, Henry capped off a 68-yard drive with a rushing score, and a Jarren Littell extra point made it 7-6 Lathrop.
The Malemutes defense then accomplished something only a team from California has been able to do this year; force Soldotna to punt. However, on the punt, Lathrop was flagged for roughing the kicker, giving the Stars a first down and a second chance. Soldotna made sure to capitalize the opportunity with a touchdown, as they did eight times after, scoring double digit TDs in the game.
Senior Jhon Rones caught four passes for 66 yards, while rising sophomore Tyriq Luke hauled in a pair of passes for 16 yards. Dario Ayala carried the ball six times for 43 yards for the Malemutes.
One of Henry’s trio of touchdowns included a 54-yard dash in the third quarter. The Human Highlight Reel brought his total touchdowns on the season to 37 in nine games, tossing 14 through the air and finding 23 on the ground.
Five Malemutes made the all-tournament team, with Henry, Rones, Andre’ Williams, Danny Panama and Markeith Matthews (Player of the Game honors from ASAA) all receiving honors.
The Malemutes conclude the 2019 season with a 5-4 record, a pair of those losses coming from Soldotna (51-14 Sept. 13).
This was Lathrop’s first appearance to the state title game since 1985, when they lost 26-10 to East Anchorage.