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Northern Exposure: Woodinville football to play season opener in Alaska

  • Written by Derek Johnson

Alaska’s state motto is "North to the Future," which is also an apt description of Woodinville’s first football game this fall. On September 6, the Falcons will fly north for their first-ever game in Alaska, when they take on the Moose of Palmer High School, in the city of Palmer.

"It’s right next to Wasilla where Sarah Palin’s from," said Woodinville head coach Wayne Maxwell. "It’s 45 miles outside of Anchorage. I have not been up there myself. I’m very excited and looking forward to that. Alaska starts their season three weeks before we do. It will be week 4 for them but our week 1. The coaches are going to go up and watch Palmer’s first game before we start our practices. It will be fun to do that and soak up Alaska."

Maxwell, who’s been coaching the Falcons for a decade, said that Woodinville was the one that reached out to Palmer about playing this game.

"I’m always looking to provide more for our boys — the experience and to be able to grow," Maxwell said. "The foundation of our program starts with a set of core principles ... They are characteristics that are the qualities that we want our boys to live by — core values to be a better person at everything in life: family member, student and a representative of your community and the city. Then obviously, we feel if our players can become better people that it will reflect on them as football players and will have results on the field."

The special moments from Maxwell’s playing days helped to guide him in scheduling this intriguing game.  

"It’s pretty rewarding as a coach to go through that kind of thing and see kids mature and grow," he said. "Thinking back to my college memories, I was fortunate enough to be on some good teams and we won a lot of football games (at Central Washington University). But some of my best memories are the road trips where you have that bonding that is created and that you can’t simulate doing other things. Road trips are a special deal. Regardless of whether you win or lose, you’re still going to create some trust and memories with your teammates."

For the time being, it appears that this will be the only pairing between these two schools on the gridiron.

"For now it’s a one-shot deal," Maxwell said. "We’re at the end of a two year cycle for us, in terms of scheduling. But we will have a brand new schedule that will be for the next two years. From a budget standpoint, we will probably try to do something like this every other year.

"The trip will be exciting," he said. "We will have a full busy schedule for the time that we’re there. We want to get the kids to some wildlife parks and get them some interaction with animals. The Iditarod headquarters are in Wasilla. It should be a pretty good and busy trip for us."

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