The North Pole Patriots deserve to be hailed for all they accomplished this season. The ending was something to forget, sure. You have to acknowledge, however, everything they’ve had to overcome and where they started.
The Patriots’ left Soldotna’s field Friday night with a 73-20 loss to the Stars in the Division II state semifinals. The Stars will go back to the state championship game while North Pole is going home.
Again, however, it must be remembered where this team started.
The Pats hadn’t been to the state tournament in football since 2017. This year’s group of seniors went 0-8 as freshmen before going 5-1 this season. They went a whole month without playing because of various Covid issues either on their team or on their opponents’ rosters. They returned to defeat West Valley in a one sided affair.
Week two of the season saw an emotional event as recent North Pole graduate Isaiah Harding was killed in a car accident. The Pats scored 36 points that week, the same as Harding’s jersey number in a victory over Eagle River.
Even on Friday the Pats kept fighting in the face of adversity. They went down 30-0 in the first quarter, but still put 20 on the board by the end of things. The offense moved the ball well with senior Devon Clark going 14-of-22 passing for 193 yards and two touchdown passes to Kaden Bostwick and Logan Bellmay. Senior Josh Dutra ran for a touchdown as well.
It’s a large class of 10 seniors that will depart from this year’s North Pole team and who knows what the future will bring. Still, it has to be said that this year’s team overcame a great deal to get where they did. For that, they deserve all the credit in the world.