The 15th meeting of the Service Cougars and Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears on Saturday afternoon at Dimond High School in Anchorage, involved a bit of Crimson Bears trickery that quickly turned into the masterful work called the Amu Aukusitino Cougars magic show.
4A all-state quarterback Aukusitino accounted for seven of the Service Cougars eight touchdowns in the first half in the state large school quarterfinal playoff game.
“I am sure he got a full ride to USC after this game,” JDHS coach Rich Sjoroos said. “He is quite a talent and will be fun to watch in college. He is a rare kid for any high school, let alone Alaska. Phillip (Fenumiai) is that type of kid too. Amu can hurt you in so many ways, he is a legitimate college prospect.”
The Crimson Bears have been injured and battered all season but, once again, competed with an energy that impressed the fans, media and coaching staffs in attendance.
JDHS attempted an on-side kick off to begin play and stopped the Cougars on fourth and one in the game’s first series. The Crimson Bears then moved down the field and senior Jackson Lehnhart put a kick through the uprights to take a 3-0 lead at the 9:28 mark of the first quarter.
Service then scored 52 unanswered points.
“I thought we competed well in the first half,” Sjoroos said. “It was just one of those deals where we kind of needed good things to happen to keep the energy going. We just ran out of good things and hit a bad stretch.”
The Service secondary is noted as the state’s best and they picked off four Crimson Bears passes in the first half, with Aukusitino stealing three.
“They have some of the better athletes around,” Sjoroos said. “They took advantage of those gifts and things kind of got out of hand in the second quarter.
The game was a better showing by the Crimson Bears than last year’s 64-21 (50-7 at the half) loss to Service in the playoffs.
“Last year we didn’t play with any energy,” Sjoroos said. “This year I really thought we did. Even the though the score was lopsided, there was a different feel to it. It is easy for me to tune the score of a game out when we are playing hard. I really wasn’t disappointed with our effort level.”
The Crimson Bears drove down the field on their second possession and missed wide on a field goal that would have tied the score at 6 all. The Cougars got tough when it mattered at the goal line, stopping the Crimson Bears on two straight possessions after their first score.
JDHS senior Demetrius Campos reinjured his hamstring at the start of the second quarter and was limited in play for the night. With just 22 players against Service’s 45 it would have been easy to retire in the second half but JDHS played competitively.
Four first time sophomore varsity starters brought up from the JV team for the Crimson Bears were noted by Sjoroos: fullback and linebacker Romney Tupou, running back and defensive back Manase Maake, wide receiver and defensive back Adam Empson, and running back and defensive back Brady Mallinger.
“A couple of them started both ways even,” Sjoroos said. “I thought they did a great job.”
Service removed Aukusitino, the Player Of The Game, from the lineup in the second half and running time began in the final period. The clock only stopped for scores, timeouts and injuries in the fourth quarter.
Seniors Brian Brassfield and Brenyn Marshall were selected as Offensive and Defensive, respectively, Players Of The Game for JDHS. The Crimson Bears finish the 2012 season with their fourth loss in a row. JDHS’ last win came on September 8th against Lathrop.
“Last year we were at full strength in the playoffs and came out flat,” Sjoroos said. “This year we had a lot of energy, some injuries, but we competed hard to the end.”
In other large school quarterfinal action the Railbelt Conference’s Palmer Moose (9-0) defeated the East Thunderbirds (5-4), the No. 4 seed from the Cook Inlet Conference, 13-6 on Friday night. West Valley (4-4, RB) played South (6-2, CIC) and West (5-3, CIC) played North Pole (7-1, RB) in late Saturday games. In medium schools playoffs the Soldotna Stars (8-1) beat Kodiak 62-7 and will play Homer in the championship game on Saturday. Nikiski beat Monroe 49-6 in the small school playoffs and will defend their state title against Eielson, a 68-0 winner over Barrow.
Juneau 3 - 0 - 7 - 0 — 10
Service 19 - 33 - 6 0 — 58
Juneau — 22 FG Lehnhart, 8:10.
Service – Toomer 25 pass from Aukusitino (kicked failed), 6:13.
Service – Toomer 9 pass from Aukusitino (Raguindin kick), 2:20.
Service – Aukusitino 46 interception return (run failed), :48.
Service — Pili 7 run (kick failed), 11:54.
Service – Robinson 8 pass from Aukusitino (kick failed), 5:06.
Service – Aukusitino 45 interception return (Raguindin kick), 4:09.
Service – Aukusitino 90 blocked field goal return (Raguindin kick), 1:14.
Service – Aukusitino 32 interception return (Raguindin kick), :16.
Service — Awailin 2 run (kick blocked), 5:19.
Juneau – Hill 11 pass from Isaak (Lehnhart kick), 1:38 Juneau Service
First downs 9 20
Rushes-yards 24-33 38-227
Passing yards 232 155
Return yards 145 277
Passes 11-32-4 10-15-1
Punts 5-30.2 1-35.0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 2-25 3-35
RUSHING — Juneau: Pfaff 4-23, Williams 14-18, Vance 2-8, Nauer 2-1, Isaak 2-(-17) . Service: Aukusitino 9-86, Corder 9-52, Toomer 4-35, Black 4-19, Awailin 5-17,Jones 3-10, Pili 1-7, McCallum 1-5, Bresser 1-1, Freestone 1-(-5) .
PASSING — Juneau: Isaak 10-20-3—194, Pfaff 1-12-1--38. Service: Aukusitino 10-15-1--155.
RECEIVING — Juneau: Hill 3-73, Williams 3-53, Pfaff 2-7, Brassfield 1-41, Campos 1-40, Tupou 1-18. Service: Toomer 3-50, Brown 2-27, Ilalio 1-38, Butler 1-15, Aliju 1-15, Robinson 1-8, Pearce 1-2.