Chugiak Post 33 was four outs away from winning its seventh state title, but Kenai Post 20 wouldn’t settle for second.
The Twins defeated Chugiak twice Saturday, Aug. 4 to win the American Legion AA State Tournament championship at Mulcahy Stadium.
In the first game, Kenai used a five-run, two-out rally in the bottom of the eighth inning to hand Chugiak an 8-7 loss — the Mustangs’ first of the tournament — and force a winner-take-all championship, which Kenai won 11-4.
Although a trip to the Interior might seem like something better left to tourists this time of year, Chugiak head coach Duncan Shackelford said he prefers to look at the bright side of the team’s Week 1 road trip to non-conference foe West Valley.
“It’s nice because we have a chance to travel to Fairbanks and work on our team bonding,” he said of the team’s Golden Heart City swing.
The two teams face off at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11. Chugiak owns a 3-0 all-time record against the Wolfpack, with their last meeting a 42-0 rout in 2004.
Jason Brewer isn’t the only new addition to the 2012 Eagle River High football program.
The first-year head coach also brought a new team motto with him: “Brotherhood.”
“Anybody that’s ever done anything in life, they’ve had somebody help them,” Brewer said. “We’re trying to instill sticking together, becoming each other’s friend not only on the field but off the field.
“If we can do that and stick together, I think it will pay dividends down the road,” Brewer said.
Brewer preaches brotherhood at every practice, said incoming senior Andre White.
There will be plenty of familiar faces roaming the sidelines in Mustang country this season.
Head coach Duncan Shackelford is back for his ninth season on the job, and he’s surrounded himself with essentially the same coaching staff as last season.
“I’m really lucky,” Shackelford said.
The only significant change is the rise of Jamie Mayo — the assistant defensive coordinator last season — to defensive coordinator. Mayo takes over for Leon Chatham, who Shackelford said left Alaska for a job in North Dakota.
Chugiak players and coaches had no say in the far-flung venue choice for the team’s season opener, but the Mustangs can guarantee themselves a home game in the season finale. All they’ve gotta do is win.
For the second year, Chugiak’s Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium will not only host four Chugiak home games, but also the final rounds and championship games of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Bowl playoffs.
That means Chugiak is the only team in the state that can guarantee itself home field advantage for the duration of the playoffs.
After one of the most frustrating, heartbreaking seasons in team history, the Chugiak Mustangs would just as soon put the blinders on when it comes to the 2011 campaign.
“It’s a past thing, it really is,” said head coach Duncan Shackelford.
Chugiak’s 2011 season was marred by an eligibility scandal that drew statewide media attention and ended with a disgraced Chugiak administrator transferred to South and the Mustangs on the outside of the playoff picture after forfeiting six games — including wins over Eagle River, South and Colony.
Eagle River Olympic athlete Corey Cogdell finished 11th overall and failed to advance to the six-woman finals of the Olympic Trapshooting competition on Saturday, Aug. 4 in London, England.
Cogdell, the 25-year-old U.S. Olympic Trials champion and a bronze medalist at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, hit 68 out of a possible 75 targets. She nailed a perfect 25 in the opening round, but faded over her final 50 shots. Italy’s Jessica Rossi followed up her world-record perfect score of 75 in the preliminaries, then hit 24 out of 25 to win the gold medal.