The Juneau-Douglas High School football team got a taste of bright lights and big city play on Saturday night against the visiting Murrieta Valley Nighthawks from California. Alumni from the Nighthawks athletics include Jorge Cordova, a 2004 MV grad who has played with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins; Lindsay Davenport, a 1994 graduate with three WTA grand slam titles; and Rickie Fowler, a 2007 graduate and 2010 PGA rookie of the year.
On the field Saturday however, were regular high school players from a high caliber league. The Nighthawks have 50 seniors on their roster, compared to 16 for JDHS who were celebrating their Senior Appreciation Night at Adair Kennedy Field (a bio of the Crimson Bears seniors will be included this week).
“I knew we were going to be in a tough game,” JDHS coach Rich Sjoroos said. “But I thought our kids competed well. This is not a game I am going to nit-pick about things we could have done better. I was more interested in the character of our guys. We knew they were bringing in a formidable group of guys.”
A unit so formidable that it actually included a completely separate kick off team; one player, Terin Solomon signed to Oregon State, and another, linebacker Michael Almodovar, headed to Brigham Young.
Juneau-Douglas’ 23 strong team did not have the depth of their opponent.
After stalling in their opening drive, the Crimson Bears held the Nighthawks on their first possession, sacking Murrieta Valley quarterback Andrew Blake and then holding on coverage of a third-and-18.
The Nighthawks, however, used the punt as a weapon, downing the ball on the JDHS three-yard line and after a Crimson Bears loss, sacking quarterback Dorian Isaak in the end zone for the game’s first score. It was the first sack the Crimson Bears have given up all season. Isaak would be shaken up in the early stages and removed from the lineup.
On the following kickoff the Nighthawks returned the ball to their own 26 yard line and ground out a touchdown run.
“The big thing was that they were able to get field position early,” Sjoroos said. “They pinned us back.”
Partial statistics show back up quarterback Trevor Pfaff was 8-19 for 105 yards and five interceptions on the night.
“Not bad for a right guard shifting over to the quarterback position,” Sjoroos said. “I thought he did a great job.”
Demetrius Campos carried the ball three times for 23 yards and Brian Brassfield had two catches for 50 yards.
The Crimson Bears missed a touchdown pass in the end zone and a field goal in the first half. At three different times JDHS challenged the Nighthawks secondary with long passes that were tipped at the last minute.
The Nighthawks controlled Adair Kennedy. Andrew Blake completed just 4-11 for 50 yards but running back Jayvy Ragudo had six carries for 82 yards and three touchdowns, and Michael Robles had 12 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
“At this point of the season the value of these type of games is just showing you what kind of tweaks you have to make going down the stretch,” Sjoroos said. “As a team we learned a lot about each other and I think that some guys showed they really wanted to compete even when the game got out of reach.”
This game was scheduled two years ago when both schools were looking at their sophomore classes. Murrieta went 8-3 last year as juniors and is ranked 69th among the over 1,100 high schools in California. A team in their conference, Vista Murrieta, is ranked 13th in the U.S. and defeated Alaska’s previously undefeated South High 49-8 last week. Last year Murrieta Valley lost to Vista Murrieta by nine; they play again in two weeks.
“I know we lost by a lopsided score but I thought we were really competing and really going after them,” Sjoroos said. “I told our guys it was pretty awesome to be on the same field as some of these players. They had superior numbers and some awfully talented players. It was an intense, physical and entertaining game.”
The Crimson Bears close out their season with two road games; This weekend at state large school number one ranked Palmer and then at West Valley.
Crucial games include a Colony (2-2) team traveling to West Valley (2-2) on Friday. Palmer is the lone Railbelt team to have clinched a playoff spot. North Pole is in position for the two seed.
If the Crimson Bears can beat Palmer on Friday, North Pole would retain the one spot and JDHS the two and Palmer at three heading into the final week of play. Palmer can clinch the conference championship by defeating JDHS.
“I am sure they know that,” Sjoroos said. “It is going to be a very intense ball game.”
How they scored:
8:41 Murrieta Valley safety (JDHS QB sacked) MVHS 2 - JDHS 0
6:12 MV Jayvy Ragudo 14 run (kick good) MVHS 9 - JDHS 0
2:18 MV Michael Robles 10 run (2-point conversion) MVHS 17 - JDHS 0
2:04 MV Jayvy Ragudo 2 run (kick good) MVHS 24 - JDHS 0
0:28 MV Michael Robles 1 run (kick good) MVHS 31 - JDHS 0
11:37 MV Jayvy Ragudo 22 run (kick good) MVHS 38 - JDHS 0
8:23 MV Andrew Blake 9 run (kick good) MVHS 45 - JDHS 0
3:04 MV Damon Nolan 40 punt return (kick good) MVHS 52 - JDHS 0
1:41 MV Damon Nolan 53 pass interception (kick good) MVHS 59 - JDHS 0