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By SPENCER GLEASON
Daily News Sports Editor
When Brendan Wong, Brandon Wieber, Crist Carlson and Stevie Byron entered Ketchikan High School as freshmen, they all had their sights set on playing college football one day.
That was in Fall 2015.
But after back-to-back two-win seasons in their freshmen and sophomore years, and a junior season in which Kayhi went 0-8, the four Kings were bound and determined to make a statement their senior year. And that’s exactly what they did.
Along with their teammates, the Kings’ Wong, Wieber, Carlson and Byron went 6-1 in the regular season, and advanced to the playoffs for the first time in their high school careers.
Their hard work paid off. And on Wednesday afternoon they reaped their rewards, as the foursome all signed letters of intent to play college football next season.
With friends and family seated in the Kayhi library, the four Kings all signed on the dotted line.
“I know it’s all been our goal,” Carlson said. “So it’s pretty exciting that we get to live it out.”
Carlson signed with the NCAA Division-III Finlandia University Lions in Michigan. Wieber will be going to Lewis-Clark State Valley College in Idaho, an NCAA affiliated Division-III football program, and will play for the Loggers.
Wong will be attending Peru State College, an NAIA school in Nebraska, and he’ll join the Bobcats. Byron will join the Mountaineers at Western State Colorado, an NCAA Division-II program.
“I was talking to a couple (schools), maybe four, my junior year,” Byron said. “And Western’s really the only one that stayed in touch, and I went on a couple visits down there. The coaches and the players I met — it was all great. And the campus was great.”
Both Carlson and Wieber have family nearby their schools of choice.
“My family’s from the Midwest, and that’s probably the most influential part — is my family roots being in Michigan,” Carlson said. “And my grandpa passed away in August. I think that’s the biggest reason why I’m there.”
The scholarship Peru State offered Wong was too good to pass up.
“I was talking to some schools, but (Peru State) seemed most interested,” Wong said. “And my biggest thing was that I didn’t want to leave college with debt. So when they offered me a scholarship that was pretty much paying for most of my tuition, it was the right fit for me.”
For the four football players figuring out where they will go next year, and having the process over with is definitely a relief.
“The stress is definitely gone now,” Wieber said.
After helping lead the Kings to their best record since 2014, and only their second playoff appearance this decade, the high school careers of Wong, Wieber, Carlson and Byron are coming to an end. But the real work may be just beginning.
“They’ve worked hard for it, and it’s what they want,” Kayhi football coach Jim Byron said. “And it’s paid off for them today.”