With just hours remaining until the Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears take on the Soldotna Stars in the 2013 ASAA First National Bowl Football State Championships at Anchorage Football Stadium, it is time to pay homage to some of the best games from the past.
Here are 10 games that many fans may remember and are the top picks of JDHS coach Rich Sjoroos:
1. Oct. 22, 2005: Juneau vs. Palmer at Anchorage Football Stadium
The Crimson Bears capped off a dominant season with a convincing 49-29 win over Palmer and their first state title in school history. The Juneau ground attack was led by Tres Saldivar, who finished with a school and state championship game record 351 yards on 30 carries. The performance earned him the USA Today National High School Player Of The Week. Chris Hinkley, who set state records for passing yards (2,289) and touchdowns (37), chipped in with six total touchdowns, three passing and three rushing. The Crimson players dedicated the season to the late coach Reilly Richey and finished undefeated against Alaskan teams, beating them by an average of 33 points per game.
2. Oct. 20, 2007: Juneau vs. Palmer at Anchorage Football Stadium
Led by the stingiest defense in school history, Juneau earned its second state championship with a 23-13 victory over Palmer. The Crimson Bears went undefeated for the first time in the program’s history, and only allowed three rushing touchdowns for the entire 11 game season. In the championship game, Lincoln Maka returned two punts inside the 20-yard line and Zach Heppner blocked a punt, all of which set up first-half Crimson Bear touchdowns. Fittingly, the scoring was capped off with a fourth-quarter safety, as Heppner sacked the Palmer quarterback in the end zone to secure the victory. The 7.7 points allowed per game is the best in school history.
3. Oct. 11, 2008: Juneau at South Anchorage
In the greatest comeback in school history, the Crimson Bears rallied from a 27-14 deficit against top-ranked and undefeated South Anchorage in the final six minutes to come away with a one-point victory. The semifinal win moved Juneau onto the state title game for the fourth time in six seasons. Alex Fagerstrom, who ended the season as the Alaska State Player of the Year, was an offensive juggernaut, notching nine catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Dakotah Smith set a school and playoff record with 292 yards and four touchdowns passing, as well as engineering a nine-play 79-yard drive in the final three minutes to secure the 100th victory in Juneau’s storied program.
4. Aug. 31, 1990: Paonia (CO) at Juneau
This was the inaugural game for the Crimson Bears as a sanctioned high school football team. Known as the “Glacier Bowl,” the Juneau Youth Football League hosted a banquet for both teams the night before the game. Paonia fielded a team that went 9-1 in the previous season and was favored to win the Colorado 3A State title. The lead changed hands several times until Juneau running back Clay Robidoux took control of the game early in the fourth quarter. He ran for a record-breaking 349 yards as Juneau won its first ever game 32-20. Robidoux’s records for rushing and yards per carry (8.5) stood all the way to 2005.
5. Oct. 9, 2004: Juneau at East Anchorage
Juneau needed a Hollywood ending to overtake East Anchorage in the state quarterfinals. The Crimson Bears jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, only to watch it evaporate as East took a 26-21 lead with 2:09 left in the game. The Bears, who used a last minute touchdown two weeks earlier to defeat Chugiak and earn a playoff berth, didn’t panic. Sophomore quarterback Chris Hinkley engineered the game winning drive; using quick passes to efficiently move the ball down the field. Josh Lehauli hauled in the winning touchdown with 58 seconds left, a 35-yard scoring strike into a brisk wind. Mychal Hutcherson pounced on a fumble to seal the 27-26 heart-pounding win.
6. Oct. 4, 2003: Dimond at Juneau
There was lots of history between these two programs heading into the 2003 quarterfinal match up. Dimond not only handed Juneau a 31-0 pounding at home in the 2001 playoffs, but the Lynx stunned the Crimson Bears during week four of the season, winning the game 28-27 after Juneau missed a two-point conversion in the final minute. The rematch was physically dominated by Juneau, as the Bears rolled up 356 yards rushing. Brian Felix, who netted 308 of those yards and five touchdowns, set the tone early as he sprinted 72 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the game, helping Juneau race out to a 31-7 halftime lead.
7. Oct. 7, 2006: Juneau at Palmer
Earlier in the season, Juneau visited Palmer as the undefeated number one ranked team in the state, enjoying a 12-game winning streak against Alaska competition. Palmer came to play that night and knocked Juneau off its perch with a convincing 26-6 victory. However, the rematch had much higher stakes, with the winner advancing to the state semi-finals. Chris Hinkley showed why he was one of the top players in the state as he threw for two touchdowns and scored another off of an interception and wide receiver Alex Fagerstrom proved to be a valuable weapon as well, notching 176 yards receiving on seven catches in the 19-14 Juneau victory.
8. Sept. 15, 1995: Bartlett at Juneau
Focusing on the harder-than-usual work the JYFL puts in to make high school football a reality in Juneau, and illustrating the incredible toughness and commitment displayed by its players to play on a field of dirt and rock, a crew for NFL Films visited the Crimson Bears. This segment titled, “Football America,” has aired at numerous times since its release in the Spring of 1995 and highlights from this game appear on the show. Tommy Penrose wore a microphone in his helmet to help capture the intensity of the game. His passion, as well as the emotion of the rest of the team, shined through as Juneau went on to defeat Bartlett 31-7.
9. Oct. 7, 1999: Juneau at Lathrop
Juneau’s first ever playoff game took place amidst a snow flurry in Fairbanks. Lathrop took an early 7-0 lead as Juneau’s offense stalled on three unsuccessful drives and desperately searched for an emotional lift. They found it in Ryan Wilson, who had previously been injured and had not been expected to play in this game. Upon entering, Ryan rallied the offense and ran for more than 100 yards. Meanwhile, the Bears’ defense forced six second-half turnovers and eight sacks, highlighted by Lino Fenumiai’s performance of three sacks and 11 tackles. Juneau turned the game into a rout over the talented Lathrop Malemutes, taking the quarterfinal game by a score of 37-7.
10. Sept. 22, 2001: Dimond at Juneau
Juneau clinched their first ever Cook Inlet Football Conference championship with this victory over the defending state champs. A field goal by Lee Sullivan and a 35-yard touchdown pass from Brett Fairchild to Jake Dutton between two Lynx defenders gave the Bears the halftime lead. The second half turned out to be a defensive slugfest, with Juneau’s defense coming up with several timely stops. None were bigger than a first-and-ten at the Bear’s 11 yard line with less than four minutes left in the game. Dimond seemed destined for the end zone and the apparent winning touchdown when Willy Dodd came up from his safety position and jarred the ball loose at the two yard line. Zac Campbell, who earned Alaska’s Lineman Of The Year, came up with the fumble and Juneau prevailed 10-7.