Senior quarterback Jace Henry threw three touchdown passes and ran for another, as the Lathrop Malemutes rolled to a 42-14 win over the host Eagle River Wolves in the Division II nonconference high school football season opener Saturday afternoon.
“We were clicking on both sides of the ball,” Lathrop head coach Luke Balash said by phone. “Jace Henry did a great job at quarterback, running the ball and distributing the ball.”
Tyriq Luke and Dario Ayala accounted for two touchdowns each for the Malemutes, who lost to the Wolves 30-24 in overtime in a Division II semifinal playoff last year at Eagle River High School.
Lathrop also came into the game ranked third among medium (Division II) and small (Division III) schools in the Alaska Sports Broadcasting Network Preseason Poll.
Jaren Littell converted four of five point-after kicks Saturday for Lathrop, which charged to 14-0 in the first quarter and increased it to 21-0 in the second quarter.
Henry scored on a 6-yard run with 6:28 left in the first, and he connected with Jhon Rones for a 30-yard touchdown pass with 1:26 left.
Luke provided the only score of the second quarter, collecting a 6-yard pass from Henry with 3:39 left.
Both of Ayala’s touchdowns came in the third quarter, where Lathrop pushed ahead 35-0. He scored on a 4-yard run at the 4:15 mark and recovered a blocked punt in the end zone with 3:01 remaining.
After Eagle River got on the scoreboard, Henry and Luke sealed the win for Lathrop by hooking up on a 13-yard touchdown pass.
The Wolves, of the Northern Lights Conference, got a 17-yard touchdown run from LaDavien Simon with no time remaining in the third quarter. Andrew Hamilton produced a 2-yard scoring run with 10:13 left in the fourth quarter.
Hamilton also converted the point-after kicks on both touchdowns.
Lathrop, of the Railbelt Conference, plays host to the West Anchorage Eagles at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Eagles, of the Division I Cook Inlet Conference, opened the season Friday night with a 49-6 loss to the Soldotna Stars, the 11-time defending Division II state champions.
The Malemutes attended the Stars-Eagles game at West Anchorage High School.
Balash kept the final score in perspective, as West Anchorage played in the last six Division I state championship games, and won the 2013 and 2015.
“We’re aware that West Anchorage has a great program. They’re coming to our house (stadium), and we’ve got our work cut our for us (this) week,” he said.
The Valdez Buccaneers opened the season Saturday with a 47-0 loss to the Houston Hawks in a nonconference Division III game at Valdez High School.
Valdez plays the Seward Seahawks in another Division III nonconference game at noon Saturday.
Seward lost 44-38 in overtime to the Monroe Catholic Rams in Friday night’s Division II nonconference season-opener at Seward High School.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.