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Story Last modified at 12:55 p.m. on Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Huffer Jr. headed for the Hall
Chugiak teacher is a former Mustang gridiron standout

By Mike Nesper
Alaska Star


Chugiak teacher Tom Huffer Jr. is seen while helping coach the Mustang football team several years ago. Huffer, 45, will be inducted into the ASAA Alaska High School Hall of Fame on Sunday, August 7 during a ceremony at the Embassy Suites in Anchorage.
STAR file photo

Tom Huffer Jr. is once again part of Alaska sports history.

On Sunday, Aug. 7, Huffer Jr. will be inducted into the Alaska School Activities Association's Class of 2011 Alaska High School Hall of Fame. One of 10 being honored, Huffer Jr. is being recognized for his excellence in football, wrestling and track while a student at Chugiak High School in the 1980s. Professional hockey player Scott Gomez and cross-country skier Kikkan Randall join Huffer Jr. as two notable Class of 2011 inductees.

Huffer Jr. and his father, Tom Huffer Sr., longtime Chugiak football coach who was part of the inaugural Class of 2006 inductees, are the state's first father-son pair to be inducted into the high school hall of fame. Huffer Jr. is the fifth Chugiak graduate to be inducted.

"He's well deserved," said Huffer Sr., who served as head football coach during his son's high school career. "He was a good athlete. Just a hardworking, hard-nosed guy."

In 1983 and 1984, Huffer Jr. was selected to the all-state football team at three positions — tight end, linebacker and place kicker.

"He did everything for us," Huffer Sr. said.

Huffer Jr. was the first Cook Inlet Conference player to be selected all-conference and all-state in three positions two years in a row. West High School's David Kilpatrick is the only other player to accomplish the same feat in 1988 and 1989.

As a kicker, Huffer Jr. was 17-of-25 for his career. He still holds the state record for most field goals kicked in a career. Huffer Sr. said he and his son would often arrive early to school to practice kicking.

"He didn't want to do it a lot of times, but he did it to make him better," Huffer Sr. said. "He just did all the things without ever complaining."

Huffer Jr. led the Mustangs to victory nine times courtesy of his toe. Some of those wins came late in the fourth quarter, Huffer Sr. said.

Huffer Jr.'s dedication in the weight room led to his success on the field, Huffer Sr. said.

"He was really a strong kid for a high school kid," he said. "He was just an exceptional, hardworking guy that wanted to be successful."

Huffer Jr. was part of two state championship teams, in 1981 and 1984, and runner-up in 1983. After graduating, he played football at the University of Montana and Linfield College until a neck injury ended his collegiate career.

Huffer Jr. was just as dominant as a wrestler.

He finished with an overall record of 99-14, losing just one match in his last two seasons. As a junior, he captured the 1984 state title at 191 pounds. In his senior year, Huffer Jr. was 24-0 with 23 pins when a leg injury in the final match of the season prevented him from competing at the state tournament.

Huffer Jr., now a teacher at Chugiak, earned 10 letters in three sports during his high school career. He currently serves as Chugiak's head wrestling coach.

"He was a great kid and still is," Huffer Sr. said. "He represented this community real well and still does."

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, August 3, 2011.