The Thunder Mountain High School football team has quietly developed one of the best defenses in state this season.
The Falcons have allowed just 26 total points in four games. But prior to playing Ketchikan last week — when they scored a hefty 42 points — the Falcons (3-1) averaged just eight points per game.
They’ll have to keep both the offense and defense revved up in their first conference game this week at North Pole. The Patriots (3-1) have scored an average of 29 points per game this season — far and away the highest scoring team in the conference.
The final three games of the regular season all count toward each team’s conference record.
As the conference’s two strongest teams, this game will likely determine who wins the conference this year. TMHS’ Week 6 defeat of the Patriots last season was the largest obstacle the Falcons needed to overcome in order to win the conference and earn the number one seed going in to the playoffs.
Even though the Falcons are the defending conference champs, TMHS head coach Randy Quinto has a lot of respect for North Pole.
“We see that North Pole’s ranked ahead of us right now,” Quinto said. “They’re on a roll, they’ve played some pretty decent teams. So we see it as we’re the underdog, we’re going in there as the underdog. It’s their home turf and it’s for all the marbles, basically.”
The TMHS offense hopes it can build on its newfound confidence this week with several touchdowns and a win. Its defense has been confident all season. By helping his players master the fundamentals and read offensive lines, TMHS defensive coordinator Derek Lofstrom has made it relatively easy on the offense to win games.
“There’s a beauty to it that I see — other people might not — but when it’s done right and it’s played right, man it’s fun,” Lofstrom said of defense. “This year, I’m blessed with great kids, they give me everything they have all the time. They ask questions when they should, and they do everything I ask of them.”
One of the things Lofstrom has asked them to do this week is two hours of film prep. This is only a fraction of the amount of tape the coaches’ absorb on a weekly basis to prepare for their next opponent.
To stay competitive in high school football nowadays, preparation is everything. Learn how a team gains yards and what they run on a fourth-and-goal, and one will have a much better chance at winning.
“We’re not trying to do anything flashy, we’re not out there trying to trick you,” Lofstrom said. “We just really focus on doing our job. We don’t have one star out there, we play 11 guys as a unit.”
TMHS plays North Pole Friday at 7 p.m. The Southeast Conference’s two other teams, Juneau-Douglas High School and Ketchikan, play at Esther Shea Field Friday at 6 p.m. in both teams’ first conference game. The Crimson Bears took down the Kings 32-8 in a week 2 nonconference tilt.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Juneau-Douglas will play Ketchikan on Saturday at 2 p.m. The two square off on Friday at 6 p.m. The article has been updated to reflect the change.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.