The Thunder Mountain High School football team had a bitter-sweet senior night on Saturday against the visiting Ketchikan Kings, falling 41-14 and out of the playoffs as the Kings Connor Hicks ran for five touchdowns and 356-yards.
“The seniors battled to the end,” Thunder Mountain head coach Jeep Rice said. “I am very proud of our seniors. All of them are going to be successful in life. They have withstood the test of fire. They are all fine young men. And right now we have been grooming a lot of freshmen, sophomores and juniors to do well in life too, because they have not been giving up and are not quitting either.”
The Falcons trailed by seven points heading into halftime. That Kings score came on a first quarter drive that saw TMHS stop the opposing ball carrier on initial contact but Kayhi junior Connor Hicks broke free on a second effort and ran for 80-yards and a touchdown.
Thunder Mountain senior Ben Jahn ran for 18 yards after catching a pass from freshman Fletcher Sebans midway through the third period and then Jahn passed a two-point conversion to freshman Riley Olsen to give the Falcons an 8-7 lead.
Kayhi came right back with a Hicks’ 73-yard run less than two minutes later.
Five turnovers, including three interceptions, doomed the Falcons on the night.
“We ran out of bodies tonight,” Rice said. “The injuries, the youth, it adds up. Next year. That is what I tell our kids, and we tell them to drag some kids out of the halls to play. We had three or four freshman on every play, just not enough seniors and juniors on the team this year.”
A decision by region athletic directors changed the Southeast Conference playoff format recently, giving the number one seed a bye and removing the fourth seed. The Alaska School Activities Association still lists the former playoff format, but Ketchikan coach Les Silva said it was a mystery when the decision was made.
“I had no idea this happened until last week,” Ketchikan coach Les Silva said. “I do not know when they made that decision
The Southeast Conference’s number one and four teams were to have met in the first round and the two and three seeds were to have played.
Instead, the one seed gets a by into the semifinals and the two and three play. Juneau-Douglas is the one seed in the conference, North Pole is the two and Ketchikan, with it’s win on Saturday, took the third spot. The Falcons, who play in the Glacier Bowl on Friday at Adair Kennedy Field, and will not play in the fourth playoff spot. Saturday was the last home field game for Jahn and classmates Joemilo Verdadero, Timmy Smith, Randall Schramm and Austin Thomas.
“We just have to hold our head up high and give it everything we got,” Rice said. “And if it is not enough, then it is not enough. We won’t take anything off the field, we will leave it all on the field. All we ask is for them to give their best and so far this season that is what they have done. We can’t ask for anything more.”
With five minutes remaining and the Falcons in possession, Kayhi’s Hicks ran over to the sideline to hug coach Silva. The Ketchikan coach spent the game sitting on the sidelines in a chair, still weak from surgery that required removing a cancerous kidney. Silva will still require radiation therapy next week.
“I love you coach,” Hicks said, and he ran back onto the field.
A score by Hicks and another by teammate Justin Covault ended the night.
Ketchikan still had possession when the Falcons Jahn stopped Hicks on a run. Kayhi took a knee two plays later to run out the clock.
“All heart,” Kayhi coach Silva said of Hicks and Jahn. “That kid is all heart, both of them are. I told him tonight I had a feeling he would have a really good game. I told these guys to go out and get this game tonight for themselves, not for me.”
HOW THEY SCORED:
2:48- KHS: (TD) Connor Hicks 80 yard run (Fousel kick) 7-0
2nd quarter- no scores.
7:26- TMHS: (TD) Ben Jahn 18 yard pass from Fletcher Sebans (Riley Olson pass from Jahn) 7-8
6:49- KHS: (TD) Connor Hicks 73 yard run (Noah Silva pass from Theo McBurnette) 15-8
4:57- KHS: (TD) Connor Hicks 44 yard run (conversion failed) 21-8
2:22- TMHS: (TD) Ben Jahn 30 yard run (conversion failed) 21-14
2:02- KHS: (TD) Connor Hicks 59 yard run (kick no good) 27-14
10:22- KHS: (TD) Connor Hicks 11 yard run (Nate Fousel run for 2pt conversion) 35-14
6:36- KHS: (TD) Justin Covault 21 yard run (conversion no good) 41-14
Passing- Fletcher Sebans- 1-4 18 yards, TD, 2 INTs; Ben Jahn- 4-14 41 yards, 3 INTs.
Rushing- Ben Jahn- 18 carries 139 yards, TD; John Williams- 8 carries 64 yards; Timmy Smith- 6 carries 24 yards.
Receiving- William Martin- 2 receptions 23 yards; Ben Jahn- 1 reception 18 yards, TD.
Defense- Ben Jahn- 12 tackles, sack; Randall Schramm- 6 tackles; Jase Lippert- 3 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, sack; Timmy Smith- 5 tackles.
Passing- Justin Covault- 7-9 41 yards.
Rushing- Connor Hicks- 21 carries 356 yards 4 TDs; Theo Mc Burnette- 6 carries 47 yards; Justin Covault- 5 carries 9 yards, TD.
Receiving- Nate Fousel- 4 receptions 36 yards; Noah Silva- 3 receptions 9 yards.
Defense- Nate Fousel 13 tackles, 2 sacks, fumble recovery, 3 tackles for loss; Robert Williams- 7 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, INT; Kyle Schnur- 2 INTs.
Total offensive yards- 297; First downs- 16; Penalties- 4 for 25 yards; 3rd down conversions- 1-5; Turnovers- 5.
Total offensive yards- 457; First downs- 9; Penalties- 2 for 10 yards; 3rd down conversions- 2 for 9; Turnovers- 3.