South Anchorage High School had its national signing day on February 3rd. For the first time in Alaska sports history, ten players from one school will sign with a college team at the next level. I asked each player a few questions and interviewed with head coach Walter Harmon.
The first player I talked to was Elijah Bowden, a wide receiver who has committed to Presentation College in South Dakota. I asked him what his mentality was as he entered his freshman year of college, "I feel pretty strong, this offseason I've been working out every day on the field, and I'm hopeful that I will be able to earn a starting role this coming fall." There are three upperclassmen who hold the role of a receiver on the college's roster, Elijah will have a great opportunity to earn a big part of their offense. When asked about how he will prepare for his first season at the college level, Elijah stated, "I've been doing a lot of footwork and I have a quarterback where I'm staying right now, I plan on going to the college as soon as possible so I can start working out with my team and getting in the weight room." Chemistry and quickness are important in a receiver, not only for himself but for his quarterback too. Lastly, I asked Elijah what his favorite moment from the last four years have been, "The state championship game, just the comradery and the nostalgia from the whole team and just a great feeling finally of being with the boys and winning the state championship."
Dylan Maltby was the only non-football signee, he committed to Hesston College in Hesston, Kansas to play baseball and plays both catcher and third base, as well a little bit of infield. In response to being asked how he is preparing for his first college season, Dylan said that he is "Already in the gym and kind of working out and prepping for it." He also stated that "You have to take a lot from what you learned in high school and apply it down there, you have to work hard because you are going against guys from all across the nation who want to work just as hard and maybe even harder, you just have to match their energy." Dylan said he feels great going into his first year of college baseball and "The coaching staff made me feel apart of their family during the recruiting process." When asked about his favorite memory from the past four years he told me, "It was my sophomore summer in the state playoffs for legion, the score was 5-4 and the West had the lead and Terrence Sugita got up to the plate and bases were loaded and he hit a line-drive to walk it off."
Loke Iese is a linebacker who will be attending Vally City State in North Dakota. I asked Loke what his mentality is going into his first college season and his response was, " Just learning and taking all the information and teaching from the coaches is going to be big for me." He also went on to say that it will be important for him to quickly learn at the next level. Next, I asked him how he will prepare for the college season and he said he is very excited and, "I've been putting in work since we lost to Bartlet and it was tough, but I need to prepare for the next level so I've been working ever since." Lastly, Loke answered the question of what his favorite memory was from playing high school football, "Winning the state championship my junior year."
Landen Maloney is also headed to Vally City State where he will be playing defensive end. Landen answered the same three questions with his first response being, "I feel and ready to go and I feel like I'm going to go down there and try to be the best no matter if it's in the workout room or on the field." Landen continued by saying he will prepare for his upcoming freshman year by, "Playing my hardest," and "Making sure I'm eating right and doing workouts and getting grades right." He stated his favorite moment to be winning state title by saying, "It wasn't even close, that was my favorite moment."
Chahon Faralan-Taylor committed to Vally City State as well and is playing outside linebacker. Chahon answered my first question with the response, "I'm excited for the college experience, I'm excited to be with my friends who have committed there too but I'm a little scared because it's a different game." He went on and told me how he will prepare for his college season by "Lifting weights," and "Practicing," as well as "Studying the game." Chahon's favorite memory from his time at South were the locker rooms, "The locker rooms are the best part, singing songs and jumping around," said Faralan-Taylor.
Kellen Curtis will play college football as a safety for Southwest Baptist University. "Going into my first season I'm not only planning on getting better every single day but learning from my peers, especially the older kids," said Kellen. "I'm going to work both on the field and then in the weight room and just get better every day," was Kellen's response when being asked how he will get ready for his freshman season with a new team. His favorite moment was during his sophomore year and the team was riding back from a game and they were singing songs on the bus, "We got in trouble for singing too loud but it was fun."
Quincey Heartwell-Mckoy will be attending Dickinson State this fall, he will be playing running back. Quincey's mentality for his freshman season is all business, "I just want to work, there are somethings that I need to improve on myself first," said Heartwell-Mckoy. He also said that "When I get there I'll be ready to work," sounds like he is hunting down the starting role. To prepare for this upcoming season, Quincey said he will "Play it like every other football game I play, I will just be myself." Quincey's favorite moment from his high school career was winning state in 2019, "We weren't really favored to win" he stated, "But we came back and won."
Maddux Soland will be playing wide receiver at Fullerton college. How Maddux will prepare for his college season will be business as usual, "Just the same thing, working hard and continuing to work hard when I get there." He feels strong as his freshman season hangs around and he is "Just trying to get as much playing time and improving as much as I can."Maddux said his favorite moment from high school football was practice, "Every day at practice, just having fun and getting better while having a blast while doing it."
Connor Lowe has committed to Fullerton college and will play wide receiver. Connor said he will work "Super hard," to prepare for his season, "Because it's a junior college I'm just trying to play right now, and if I feel like I play I'll go somewhere better." "I'm excited to work and I feel like I'm going to make the most of my opportunity," Connor said about how he feels as he enters college. His favorite moment during highs school was going 8-0, "My favorite moment was going 8-0 when we were all sophomores on JV." Connor played South football for only two seasons.
Jackson Harmon was the last player I talked with, he is playing D1 football at Montana State and will play cornerback. Jackson's mentality as he enters his freshman year is the underdog. "Definitely an underdog but I'm just going to go there and just work hard no matter what though." "I've been working out about five days a week, every week for the past couple months, keeping my grades right, and just staying sharp football-wise," said Harmon as I asked him how he is preparing for the next step. Jackson's favorite moment from high school football was a game against West high school, "Definitely when we were playing West high school junior year and there were 18 seconds left and I threw the touchdown pass to Quincey to go to the state championship."
I asked head coach Walter Harmon about the seniors' departures and his experience coaching these players that will be leaving his team. I asked the coach how he felt about these selected players moving forward, "Really excited," said coach Harmon, "excited not only for their playing careers but I'm excited for what they're going to do with the opportunity to have a big chunk of their education paid for, so that was always the goal was to keep as much money in their parent's pockets as possible and prolong their playing careers, so mission accomplished." Coach Walt was asked if he felt content with how he coached these players, "I don't know if you ever feel content or satisfied, you always wish you did a little bit more of this, I'm excited where they are and for that mission accomplished, we are right where we need to be." Coach Harmon has coached many of these kids for a very long time, I asked him to describe his experience coaching these players, "70% of this team has played for me since pop warner or since they were seven years old, so some of the kids don't know any other coach other than me and that's not always good, but it is kind of bittersweet celebrating them as they leave and kind of a process, it's exciting, but it's also an end of a journey."