The Thunder Mountain High School Falcons football team has all but wrapped up the Southeast Conference title with their 43-14 win at Ketchikan on Saturday.
All that is left is a nice bow on top, a win over Sitka, or at least not letting Sitka win by more than 29 points next weekend, the amount that the Falcons used to inflict pain at the Wolves den earlier in the season.
The Falcons will host the Wolves this Saturday at 7 p.m. on TMHS football homecoming night, and must not allow a Sitka win, especially by more than six touchdowns.
That risk may seem far-fetched as the Falcons have been dismantling their Southeast Conference opponents and look to be hosting a first round playoff game again. To do so the team has to stay focused.
“That is a difficult task,” Thunder Mountain coach Bill Byouer said. “Our strongest opponents are not in southeast right now, and we don’t play them, usually, until the playoffs.”
Against Ketchikan senior running back John Jolly scored three touchdowns and senior running back Josh Tupou added two touchdowns on offense and intercepted a pass at his linebacker position for another score.
“But I had big games from just everybody,” Byouer said. “Villi Tupou, Joe Ia, just everybody really clicked in the first quarter. When the first team was out we did what we were supposed to do.”
The prior week of practice for the Falcons keyed on execution of plays on the field.
“And our execution was good,” Byouer said. “Whether it was with our dominating team on the field, or not, we executed with perfection throughout the first quarter, then in the first minutes of the second quarter, and then the blow out was in place so the respect factor came in and I had to turn the dogs down, which is really hard too.”
The Falcons totaled 39 rushes 242 yards. Ben Jahn went 2-5 passing for 31 yards and one touchdown and carried the ball for 72 yards. John Jolly rushed for 111 yards with two touchdowns. Villi Tupou rushed for 51 yards. Josh Tupou rushed five times for nine yards and two touchdowns, as well as intercepting a pass for another score. Joe Ia carried the ball five times for 49 yards. Shayne Brown rushed four times for 50 yards.
“Ketchikan has improved greatly,” Byouer said. “Their kids played hard all the way through to the end. They hit with you, they have that program going, and they want to make southeast strong.”
The Falcons scored in the first quarter on a two-yard J. Tupou run and Jolly caught and ran for 43 yards and a score, and J. Tupou intercepted a pass to score.
In the second quarter Chris Mack had a 22-yard reception for a touchdown, J. Tupou busted in another two yard score.
In the fourth quarter Jolly scored on a five-yard run. Ben Jahn added the extra point on each score.
Defensively the Falcons recovered one fumble and had two interceptions.
The Falcons’ leading tacklers were Brenan Watson, Villi Tupou, and Shayne Brown with three apiece. Ben Jahn and J. Tupou had six assist tackles, and Ofeina Soakai added five.
“Almost everybody on the defense was involved in the assists,” Byouer said. “They couldn’t run on us. Now we have to get through Sitka. We are hungry for this weekend.”
The Falcons host the Sitka Wolves on Saturday at 7 p.m. and then host a non-conference clash against Argonaut High School from California the following weekend.
If the Falcons beat Sitka they will be the number one Southeast Conference seed in the medium size high school division and will host the Northern Lights Conference number two seed. The NLC number one will host the NLC number three. Soldotna currently holds the top spot with Homer and Kodiak in position to take the final two NLC seedings.