Tonight 18 Juneau-Douglas High School football seniors will run through the gauntlet of fans, opponents and weather for the last time on their home turf at Adair Kennedy Field.
Across the line of scrimmage will be five seniors from their cross-town rivals, the Thunder Mountain Falcons.
There are no playoff implications with this game, and no conference standings will be affected.
Still, no snap will be taken lightly.
“The biggest challenge is for the kids not to focus on the scoreboard, but instead to focus on what we are doing on the field,” Juneau-Douglas coach Rich Sjoroos said. “Are we making good plays, are we continuing to get better? Even though we are playing an opponent that has struggled this year, we are still looking for the ultimate chemistry and the perfect game. Although unattainable, you still want to shoot for that each week.”
At 7:40 p.m., JDHS senior introductions will begin with players entering through the large inflatable Crimson Bears mascot.
The Crimson Bears will showcase running back/defensive back Demetrius Campos; fullback/linebacker George Sua; wide receiver/linebacker Dartanan Campos; wide receiver/defensive backs Jake Bicknell (injured), Jake Hamilton, Semisi Maake, Noel Toribio, Nate Weltzin and Kris Hill; running back/linebackers Eric Nordgren and Matt Blatnik; offensive lineman/linebacker Derick Vance; and offensive linemen/defensive linemen Noah McVay, George Grummett, Luis Lamas, JD Hudson, Jason Nguyen and Elden Punongbayan.
“I try to do nothing different as far as preparation,” Sjoroos said. “If we practice our two-minute offense when we are playing Wasilla, we are going to practice our two-minute offense when about to face Thunder Mountain. We want to do the same things and keep challenging ourselves to get better.”
Special events for the night include the JDHS dance team performing at halftime along with the JDHS football cheer squad.
“I am really looking forward to that,” Sjoroos said. “It is the first time they have been on the football team since the early ’90s. We have the tunnel, the dance team ... the only thing we are missing are the fireworks. People might confuse this with the Super Bowl.”
Football cheer seniors include Emily Keithahn, Tania Miramontes, Sally Roesel, Jessica Sjoroos and Devon West.
Dance team seniors include Hannah Cassell, Brandi Hall, Randi Held and Brooke Moss. The dance team will honor their seniors later in the year.
The Crimson Bears also approached Sjoroos with their desire to have an honorary captain attend the coin flip at the beginning of the game. That distinction, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month, was bestowed upon JDHS attendance secretary Gaye Willis.
“The captains and team wanted to do that for her,” Sjoroos said. “She is dealing with that in her life right now and the team really wanted to support her and have her be a part of the night.”
The Glacier Bowl — which is what tonight’s game is known as — is known for town bragging rights among the players and coaches, many of whom grew up under the skies of the Juneau Youth Football League either as teammates or schoolmates.
A Glacier Bowl trophy has been in the works but will not be unveiled until later this year. The “traveling” trophy and design was first conceived by former TMHS coach Bill Byouer and, along with Sjoroos, the idea came to fruition. The construction includes two-tiers on a walnut base with a football on top. Carved brass plates of a Falcon and a Crimson Bear are on opposing sides with a glacier surrounding them. The bottom tier includes space where plates identifying the yearly winners and scores will be added. It will rest with the winning school until brought to the Glacier Bowl game each season.
The Falcons will feature four seniors who survived a season of games in which they were the underdogs on paper, but not in spirit. They consist of quarterback/linebacker Ben Jahn; offensive/defensive lineman Austin Thomas; safety/running back Timmy Smith and tight end Jason Vasquez. Out with injury is wide receiver/corner back Randall Schramm.
“We approached it like we always do,” TMHS coach Jeep Rice said. “It is time for us to be warriors and get out there and try and protect your buddy in the foxhole next to you. That is our mentality and we are going to do our best to help each other out. We are all family and we are going to step out onto the field and give it our all. We won’t be leaving anything behind.”
At a little past 8 p.m. the fans, field and fortunes of 20 or so football players will whistle in to play for the last time.
The Falcons’ season will end tonight. There are no playoffs to look forward to, just a chance to line up against one of the top schools in the Southeast Conference.
“It is the end of a long season of rain and injuries,” Rice said. “The core group of players we have left are a great group of kids and they are giving it their all. Some of their opponents they played with and we have coached when they were younger. We will be out there, in the rain with rain gear.”
Added Sjoroos, “It is always different year to year. Teams will be different. I think you just throw the records out the window and everybody comes out and tries to have a good experience.”
Senior introductions are slated to begin at 7:40 p.m. at Adair Kennedy Field. Fans are encouraged to arrive earlier.
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