Even when they fumbled the opening kick off (twice in a row) the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears football team did what it was supposed to do... play defense.
Then they played offense; a lot of offense.
The Crimson Bears gave the ball back to Wasilla on the opening kick off Saturday night at Adair Kennedy Field, then shut the Warriors down to regain possession and allow Dorian Isaak room to find Aquino Brinson for 20 yards and a touchdown.
It would be the first of seven touchdown throws for Isaak who completed 17 of 22 passes for 398 yards; both totals are school records. The 7 passing touchdowns tops Chris Hinkley’s 6 set against North Pole in 2005, the 398 passing yards tops teammate Phillip Fenumiai’s 311 set against Wasilla in 2011.
“It was a combination of Isaak throwing the ball well and his receivers adjusting,” Juneau-Douglas head coach Rich Sjoroos said. “Everybody was just in a nice zone, a good tempo and rhythm.”
The Warriors answered with all-state quarterback Ben Fielder finding his all-state linebacker and receiver Cash McGregor to tie the score.
And the Crimson Bears gave the ball back again, and again their defense pushed the bigger Warriors back forcing a pass attempt that senior defensive back Samson Nauer picked off.
The Crimson Bears then moved down the field with Demetrius Campos running 25 yards, Brassfield hauling in a 22 yard pass and the Warriors getting a breather as the quarter ended.
The catch by Brassfield began a career and record setting night for the 5-foot-8 senior as well. Brassfield would catch six passes for 193 receiving yards and three touchdowns. The 193 yards breaks the mark of 191 CJ Keys established against Rainier Beach in 2004.
JDHS would score on the opening play of the second quarter as Brassfield hauled in a pass from Isaak for 24 yards, and the Crimson Bears showed that they would continue to find ways to navigate the new turf.
Wasilla’s Mitchell Rilatos ran in the tying score and the extra point gave the Warriors a brief 15-14 lead.
“Then our kids kind of settled down a little bit,” Sjoroos said. “Coach Fenumiai made some defensive adjustments on coverage’s, changed some responsibilities, and we went on a long stretch there where we didn’t give them much of a opportunity on offense.”
With Isaak in a rhythm and the offensive line giving the sophomore time to throw, the Crimson Bears again moved down the field. Isaak threw nine yards to Brassfield, 20 yards to Brinson and gave the ball to Campos for a one-yard plunge. Six different JDHS receivers had at least one catch in the game.
Although the lead was just eight points at halftime, momentum belonged to the Crimson Bears.
Three scores in the third quarter in less than four minutes put the game away for JDHS. Brassfield was the recipient of those three touchdown passes from Isaak and Jackson Lehnhart put the extra points straight through the uprights.
Lehnhart proved to be a welcome addition in his first varsity game, hitting 7-9 extra points and placing at least one kick off into the end zone.
When Isaak needed a brief breather Stefan Jones came in to run the ball from the signal calling position. Of the 26 Crimson Bears’ running plays on the night, only four resulted in negative yards on the night.
“This year both of our games coming out of the gate have been good challenges,” Sjoroos said. “We had to find different strengths in different areas to seize control of the game.”
The Crimson Bears were caught off guard with early onside kicks by Wasilla but recognized the set up immediately after the first quarter.
“We did a nice job of not hanging our heads,” Sjoroos said. “It would have been easy to finger point but we just jumped out there. If we have adversity they seem to be handling it pretty well.”
The Crimson Bears offensive and defensive line looked more comfortable in the contest. Freshman right tackle Hunter Hickok, in just his second high school game, started to move his feet better any mistakes were compensated by his teammates.
“We had no sacks allowed,” Sjoroos said. “I am really happy about that.”
The Crimson Bears will host Railbelt foe North Pole on Saturday. The Patriots are 2-0 after knocking off West Valley 34-25 this week. Seniors Phillip Fenumiai and Trevor Pfaff are expected to return to action. George Sua is a game day decision after a hip pointer and Demetrius Campos over came cramping in the second half.
“Who ever comes out on top in that game will be in the upper tier at the midway point of the season,” Sjoroos said. “That is all you can ask for, to be in control of your own destiny.”
Saturday Night Brief Stats -
Dorian Isaak 17-22-398-7-0
Demetrius Campos 8-124 (1TD)
Stefan Jones 4-48
Gary Speck 8-39 (1TD)
Trey Williams 4-2 (1TD)
Dorian Isaak 2-7
Brian Brassfield 6-193 (3TD)
Aquino Brinson 4-88 (3TD)
Kris Hill 1-40
Gary Speck 3-31
Trey Williams 1-24 (1 TD)
Demetrius Campos 2-21
How they scored -
JDHS - 8:07, Brinson 20 pass from Isaak (Sua run) 8-0
WHS - 4:13, McGregor 9 pass from Fielder (Fielder run) 8-8
JDHS - 11:52, Brassfield 24 pass from Isaak (run fumbled) 14-8
WHS - 8:29, Rilatos 3 run (kick good) 14-15
JDHS - 7:07, Brassfield 26 pass from Isaak (kick blocked) 20-15
JDHS - 3:41, Campos 1 run (Williams run) 28-15
JDHS - :37, Brinson 6 pass from Isaak (kick fails) 34-15
WHS - :23, McGregor 80 kick return (kick good) 34-22
JDHS - 5:27, Brassfield 63 pass from Isaak (kick good) 41-22
JDHS - 3:23, Brassfield 40 pass from Isaak (kick good) 48-22
JDHS - 3:01 Brassfield 27 pass from Isaak (kick good) 55-22
JDHS - 7:01, Williams run 7:01 (kick good) 62-22
WHS - 4:00, Wright 2 run (conversion good) 62-30
JDHS - 1:30, Speck 23 run (kick good) 69-30