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Thunder Mountain seeking first-ever home playoff game

Falcons need road win over Ketchikan

Posted: September 23, 2011 - 12:05am
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The Thunder Mountain defense stops a Nikiski Bulldog two-point conversion during an early season home loss. The Falcons need to stop Ketchikan's running attack on Saturday to secure home field for the first round of the playoffs.   Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
The Thunder Mountain defense stops a Nikiski Bulldog two-point conversion during an early season home loss. The Falcons need to stop Ketchikan's running attack on Saturday to secure home field for the first round of the playoffs.

“Go big blue,” Thunder Mountain head coach Bill Byouer said. “One more win, that is what we need right now.”

The Falcons (2-1, 2-4) need to beat the Ketchikan Kings (0-3, 0-4) on the road Saturday to prolong their home season past next weekend. If the Falcons beat the Kings, Thunder Mountain will host its first ever home playoff game Oct. 7 or 8.

“Ketchikan is going to come at us hard,” Byouer said. “We won the last time they were here but now we are going to their house, and that program is building and getting better.”

Ketchikan boasts a huge front line averaging over 265 pounds per player. Although inexperienced, they enjoy opening up holes in the defense for a powerful offensive. The Ketchikan defense uses a Stretch 5-3 set.

“They spread the defense out and then come at us hard, “ Byouer said. “They bring everybody through. They bring their linebackers hard at us, it’s a full house, bringing it at us.”

Injury riddled Thunder Mountain will rely on technique in blocking and picking up linebackers on defense and a high powered offense.

“Weather depending we will open up our passing attack on them,” Byouer said. “We are looking for a big running game this week.”

That running game comes from junior John Jolly and senior Erik Reyna. If they can draw attention, then receivers Ben Jahn, Sam Jahn and Joe Ia will be utilized by quarterback Camden Thomas at every opportunity.

“Ketchikan is not going to lay down by no means,” Byouer said. “They would like nothing better than to knock us off so that Sitka could get into the playoffs. They have had two weeks to prepare for us.”

A Thunder Mountain win insures a first-ever home playoff game for the Falcons.

“It can be a part of building history,” Byouer said. “Barring injuries and meltdowns we have a shot. Each week we are starting to build and get momentum. That is the key, we have momentum, now we just need more bodies.”

Byouer is hoping the offensive line can open holes and the defense can close them; often those are the same players.

“Mostly everybody goes both ways,” Byouer said. “What we got is 11 kids that pretty much go kick-off, kick-off return, punt, punt return, offense, defense, special teams, everything. That is hardcore taking all those hits and going non-stop. They just keep putting their heads up and moving forward, they never quit.”

Thunder Mountain will play a final home game against visiting Renton, Wash. on Sept. 30 to end the regular season. That will also be the Falcons’ Senior Appreciation Night.

“We hope we will be celebrating one more game at home,” Byouer said. “We get a win we get that first round of the playoffs. It is kind of unique. The first four weeks we have just been trying to get these kids going and healthy. Now they are starting to turn it around and there is playoff light at the end of the tunnel. The first year we had no carrot at the end of the season. Last year we finally had that carrot in the playoff round. And this year we have a chance to eat that carrot at home for the first round. That is special for us to get it for the community that supports us.”

Byouer also added an apology to the Sitka Wolves. Injuries have prevented him from sending a junior varsity team to Sitka. The services of the TMHS JV kids are required in the varsity trip to Ketchikan.

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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