There will be fireworks, an air show so to speak, on Saturday at Adair Kennedy Field as two of the best high school football passers will drop back and let it go.
Not just the two best passers in the Railbelt Conference either.
According to national high school sports company MaxPreps, Crimson Bears sophomore Dorian Isaak and the Patriots’ Moo Rogers are two of the top five passers... in the nation.
“Yeah that is pretty cool,” Juneau-Douglas High School football coach Rich Sjoroos said. “I mean, here in Juneau we are going to see two of the nations best throwing the ball. That is going to be exciting.”
Isaak is the top-rated passer in the entire country. His 559 yards on 23 completions from 32 attempts is the tops in the country, from east coast to west coast. His eight touchdown passes (with two interceptions) is tops in the country.
North Pole’s Moo Rogers is no slouch either. The senior slinger is the 5th rated passer in the country according to MaxPreps. Rogers has connected on 22-39 passes for 412-yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions.
“It is fun stuff, “Sjoroos said. “I am really happy our defensive communication has gotten a lot better. I think we saw that last weekend. We will need to see that this game.”
Saturday night’s game could be the most anticipated football clash since 2005 when undefeated JDHS hosted undefeated Palmer in the fourth game of the season. The Crimson Bears and the Moose were ranked numbers one and two in the country by MaxPreps at that time. JD won 50-7.
“Yeah that was kind of a neat thing,” Sjoroos said. “This really makes for a great show down.”
Granted, MaxPreps doesn’t rank teams until they have played at least two games and only 13 states have began season play as of last week. The rest of the nation will be underway after the Friday Night Lights are flipped from the St. Augustine Bridge to the Space Needle and quarterbacks will be throwing short, long and in between.
Seniors from Texas to Seattle will be in form and underclassmen will be getting their first big chances.
“Things will change after this weekend,” Sjoroos said of the polls. “But for now it is kind of a cool thing.”
Isaak got his chance in the season opener against Thunder Mountain. An injury to all-state senior player Phillip Fenumiai gave Isaak a few reps behind the center.
Fenumiai was expected to be back at QB last week against Wasilla but the program decided another week of rest wouldn’t hurt and would add to the confidence level of the team. Fenumiai is expected to be back on the field Saturday night. That will be a scary combination for any team to face, especially since Stefan Jones and Trevor Pfaff love to run the holes if Isaak or Fenumiai don’t want to skirt around the sides.
The Crimson Bears with Isaak at the helm have continued to be pass happy.
Even Fenumiai commented, “If Isaak is throwing like that I want to catch a few of those passes.”
The Patriots will feature Rogers who, at 5-foot-10, likes to run as well as pass.
Railbelt Conference coaches say he is shifty and athletic, a Michael Vick (NFL Philadelphia Eagles) type quarterback who threw for 1,400 yards last season and ran for a 1,000. Rogers passed for 200 yards last weekend, going 12-19 with two touchdowns and two interceptions; he also rushed for a game high 136 yards on 14 carries. The Patriot offense will revolve around him.
“He is allusive and strong,” Sjoroos said. “Good arm and all that stuff.”
The Crimson Bears dropped their defensive backs last weekend to nullify Wasilla air attack. This Saturday Rogers will use spin moves to try and allude tacklers.
“We do not want to leave our feet too soon,” Sjoroos said. “Just be disciplined tacklers. Don’t go for the high light hits, just the sure tackle.”
The Patriots also feature senior Lance Wright, a 6-foot-3 receiver who missed last season with a knee injury and is as fast as the Crimson Bears’ Demetrius Campos. Wright caught six of Rogers’ passes for 150-yards and two touchdowns last weekend against West Valley. West Valley had been the preseason favorite in the Railbelt.
Along with Wright the Patriots feature a big veteran group of kids with a chip on their shoulder after two rough years. They have defeated Dimond 32-14 and the Wolfpack 34-25, both on the road, and look to avenge last season’s 57-0 loss to the visiting Crimson Bears.
Patriot linebacker Aaron Betts is touted as one of the top two in the state and will be especially interested in getting inside the Crimson Bears backfield.
“I keep telling our guys this is a game they really have to prepare for,” Sjoroos said. “They can’t just show up and put on the jerseys. They are not going to lay down for us. I am trying to treat this like a playoff game. This is going to be a motivated team that we play. We will need more than our 25 guys in uniform, we will need the crowd and the school to get into this thing and maybe as a collective group we can pull this off.”
The MaxPreps poll also features Campos as the only Southeast player on their Alaska preseason All-State Football team and one of just three Railbelt players along with North Pole’s Betts and West Valley running back Larenzo Graham. The Crimson Bears are also ranked as the state’s best football team over the last 10 years.
“You are talking four whole cycles of kids who have to go through the program to pull that off,” Sjoroos commented. “It is a testament to the whole program, the different coaches that have come through, the whole youth program and everything. It is a big honor.”
Over the past eight years MaxPreps lists Alaska’s top 10 football programs as:
1. Juneau-Douglas Ranked No. 1 two years (2005, 2007), Two Large School state championships (2005, 2007), Highest rank: 1 (2005, 2007), Lowest rank: 10 (2009), Average rank: 4.
2. Soldotna, Four Small School state championships (2006, 2007, 2008, 2010), Highest rank: 2 (2007, 2010), Lowest rank: 13 (2005), Average rank: 5.37.
3. South (Anchorage) Ranked No. 1 in 2006, 2006 Large School state champion, Highest rank: 1 (2006), Lowest rank: 14 (2004), Average rank: 6.25.
4. West (Anchorage) Ranked No. 1 in 2010, 2010 Large School state champions, Highest rank: 1 (2010), Lowest rank: 16 (2007), Average rank: 7.
5. Chugiak (Eagle River) Highest rank: 4 (2006, 2009, 2011), Lowest rank: 14 (2005), Average rank: 7.1.
6. Colony (Palmer) Highest rank: 2 (2006), Lowest rank: 23 (2011), Average rank: 7.6.
7. Palmer Highest rank: 3 (2005), Lowest rank: 12 (2011), Average rank: 7.75.
8. Bartlett (Anchorage) Ranked No. 1 in 2009, 2009 Large School state champion, Highest rank: 1 (2009), Lowest rank: 14 (2007), Average rank: 8.25.
9. Service (Anchorage) Ranked No. 1 twice (2008, 2011), Two Large School state championships (2008, 2011), Highest rank: 1 (2008, 2011), Lowest rank: 20 (2005), Average rank: 8.6
10. Kenai Central, One Small School state championship (2005), One Medium School state championship (2011), Highest rank: 3 (2009), Lowest rank: 14 (2006), Average rank: 9.