The Monroe Catholic High School football team is getting a new opponent for its first game of the season at Kiwanis Field.
The Rams are playing the Valdez Buccaneers, a rival in the Division III Aurora Conference, after their scheduled game against the Homer Mariners was canceled.
Homer and Monroe were scheduled to play each other in a nonconference game at 6 p.m. Friday at Kiwanis Field, which is behind the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
Homer, of the Division III Peninsula Conference, canceled the game because of travel restrictions caused by air-quality problems from the Swan Lake wildfire near Sterling on the Kenai Peninsula.
Monroe and Valdez instead will play at 6 p.m. Friday.
The new game also is a rescheduled contest for Valdez.
The Buccaneers were originally set to travel to the Kenai Peninsula for a nonconference at 1 p.m. Saturday against the Nikiski Bulldogs, also of the Peninsula Conference. That game, Valdez athletic director Todd Wegner said Wednesday by phone, was canceled because of air-quality problems from the Swan Lake wildfire.
This is the second week in a row in which high school football games involving Interior teams were affected by wildfires in Southcentral Alaska.
The North Pole Patriots hosted the Wasilla Warriors on Saturday afternoon at James Watson Patriot Pride Field at North Pole High School. The nonconference teams were set to play Friday night at Wasilla High School, but the game was moved to the Interior because of air-quality problems caused by wildfires in the Matanuska Valley.
North Pole, of the Division II Railbelt Conference, lost 28-12 to Wasilla, of the Division I Railbelt Conference.
The Eielson Ravens, West Valley Wolfpack and Monroe had games canceled against teams from the Kenai Peninsula because of the Swan Lake wildfire.
The Soldotna Stars, the 11-time defending Division II state champions from the Northern Lights Conference, were scheduled to visit West Valley on Friday night. Eielson, of the Aurora Conference, was to play the Kenai Kardinals, of the Northern Lights Conference, in Kenai on Saturday, when Monroe was slated to play at Nikiski.
After the cancellations, Monroe played West Valley’s junior varsity team in a game Friday afternoon at West Valley High School, where West Valley’s varsity squad later had a scrimmage against Eielson.
Rams volleyball sweep West Valley
The Monroe Catholic Rams opened its regular season Wednesday night with a 25-17, 25-19, 25-16 win over the West Valley Wolfpack in a nonconference volleyball game in Boileau Hall at Monroe Catholic High School.
It was the first time in seven years that a Rams squad coached by David Obermeyer defeated the Wolfpack.
“I just think our girls worked really well together,” Obermeyer said by phone. “We were able to pass the ball and be aggressive. I think when we’re aggressive and we play our game, we’re a better team.”
Chloe Maynard, a 6-foot-1 middle hitter, registered 18 kills and eight blocks for the Rams, and Jenna Hernandez provided 15 digs and six service aces.
Tia Campanelli distributed 20 assists and contributed eight kills, and Monroe teammate Sophia Stepovich had five kills and five blocks.
Monroe was runner-up last year in the Aurora Conference tournament and advanced to the Class 3A state tournament in Anchorage.
The Wolfpack were coming off a season-opening nonconference loss Aug. 22 against the Colony Knights in Palmer and an 11th-place finish among 12 teams in the Chugiak Inviational at Chugiak High School on Friday and Saturday.
West Valley also graduated seven players from last year’s team, which captured the program’s 20th Mid Alaska Conference tournament title and advanced to the Class 4A state tournament in Anchorage.
“We just have to get better and we have to get smarter,” Wolfpack head coach Dave Cox said by phone.
“We get pretty good touches on defense. We’re getting up a lot of tough balls in the back row,” he said. “Our problem is when we have to play over the net. We hit into the block or into the net.
“It’s just the second week, and we’ve got a lot of learning to do.”
Pam Noll led the Wolfpack with 14 digs, Skylar Wolf had a team-high seven kills. Zoe Vehmeier served nine attempts with three aces and no errors, and Ali May led West Valley with six assists.
Monroe Catholic hosts Eielson at 6 p.m. Tuesday in an Aurora Conference contest. West Valley hosts Valdez, the defending Aurora Conference tournament champion and 3A state runner-up, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
The matchup against the Buccaneers also is on the eve of the West Valley Invitational tournament Friday and Saturday.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.