It was a back-and-forth First National Bowl battle -- the West Anchorage Eagles and Bartlett Golden-Bears vying for the Division I Alaska state football championship. In the end, Bartlett escaped with the title in a 40-33 victory.

West opened strong, as Caadyn Stephen recovered a fumble and returned it for a score to spot the Eagles a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Bartlett would find the end zone with just over two minutes left in the half as Jontay Edwards punched in from 6 yards out. A Tyler Borschnack interception would lead to another Bartlett score in closing seconds of the half to tie the game.

A back-and-forth second half would ultimately come down to Bartlett's final series. Down 33-32 with just over two minutes to play, Bartlett's all-state lineman of the year Thomas Sio recovered a fumble that led to a Hunter Cargill score.

The Bartlett Golden Bears would secure their first state championship since 2009, fifth in school history. It was an emotional season for Bartlett, bonded by football on the field and tragedy off. They dedicated the season to teacher Tanya Taylor-Winchester who succumbed to breast cancer and teammate Mlooglug Chervang, who died in a swimming accident over the summer.

It was a fairytale ending for the Golden Bears, who achieved greatness through much adversity. In fitting fashion, they celebrated the win by singing "Lean on Me" -- together.

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