The Juneau-Douglas High School football team made the best of Plan B for its season-opener, as the Crimson Bears claimed a 64-0 victory over the undermanned Ketchikan Kings Friday night at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
Juneau originally was scheduled to open against the Wasilla Warriors on Friday, but the Cook Inlet Football Conference rewrote the schedule so East Anchorage could try - unsuccessfully - to bring a team from Hawaii to Alaska for a game.
Faced with a bye for the state's first week of football games, the Crimson Bears made the best of their limited options. All the other teams in the state had games, so Juneau offered Ketchikan - the state's lone independent - its first-ever chance to play the Crimson Bear varsity. All previous matchups between the schools pitted Juneau's junior varsity team against Ketchikan's varsity.
While the Juneau players would have preferred to play Wasilla - a team closer to Juneau's level of competition - the Crimson Bears were happy just to have a game Friday. When the option is another day of practice, playing Ketchikan doesn't sound that bad.
"I've been waiting for this game for six months," said Juneau senior wide receiver-defensive back C.J. Keys, who returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Mark Shilling. "There's nothing like the first varsity game of the season. It was cool everybody got to play, especially some of the second stringers. But there's a lot to be done before next week (when Juneau hosts East Anchorage in a CIFC game). That game will set our season."
"This was the first day of the season," added senior linebacker-lineman-fullback Ryan West, who scored on a 2-yard run. "This is what starts it all off."
Ketchikan, with its third coach in as many seasons, only had 13 players eligible for the game and only two of them stood taller than 5-foot-10. Juneau was prepared for a mismatch, and head coach Reilly Richey used his second-string players for most of the second quarter and then played his JV team in the second half. They also used a running clock for the second half.
In the third quarter, Ketchikan had two players - quarterback Chris Ashcraft and running back-linebacker Boyd Runnion - both come off the field with injuries on the same play, leaving Ketchikan with no substitutes. Ashcraft was able to return to the game, but Runnion, who appeared to have a concussion, was taken by ambulance to Bartlett Regional Hospital for observation.
"I'm good, but I hurt," said Ashcraft, a freshman who was playing his first varsity game. "We'll play anyone. It was fun."
"Ketchikan showed a lot of courage," Richey said. "They showed a lot of character and courage. They never got frustrated and this coach (Ketchikan's Kevin Vandelac) has that part of their program turned around."
The Crimson Bears scored the first time they touched the ball, on Keys' punt return, then Richard Isett kicked a 40-yard field goal to make it 10-0. Keys scored his second touchdown with 3:36 left in the first quarter, then Juneau took advantage of pair of Ketchikan turnovers to score on West's run and on a 17-yard run by Mike Winters to make it 31-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Isett was wide right on a 37-yard field goal attempt to open the second quarter, then Juneau had two dropped passes in the end zone that could have made the score even more lopsided. Jon Andrew Malacas, who had one of the end zone drops, later redeemed himself by catching a 20-yard touchdown pass from Pat Kohan and Seve Candalaria scored on a 1-yard run to make it 45-0 at halftime.
"The line did good; I could wait forever back there," Kohan said.
Canaan Boz scored on a 5-yard run and Derek Antrim scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter, and Tom Topui scored on a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter to round out Juneau's scoring.
On offense, Juneau used 15 different runners to gain 203 yards on 33 carries. Junior varsity runners Topui (seven carries) and Antrim (five) were the only Crimson Bears to carry the ball more than four times. Juneau's three quarterbacks completed five of nine passes for 76 yards - and they could have gone seven for nine on passing had their receivers held onto the two sure touchdown passes.
On defense, Juneau backpedaled Ketchikan's runners to minus-69 yards rushing. Ketchikan quarterback Chris Ashcraft and fullback Jon Hamilton completed more passes to Juneau defenders than to Ketchikan receivers, going a combined 3-for-13 for 39 yards with four interceptions.
Juneau senior Jeff Shin made two interceptions for the Crimson Bears, while Winters and Kohan also intercepted passes. The Crimson Bears recovered four of Ketchikan's nine fumbles.
"I just made my first look at where the quarterback's eyes were," said Shin, who added that this is his first year playing football. "I was just lucky, I guess. It was great."
"We made some mistakes, but we'll fix them up for next week," Juneau junior offensive lineman-linebacker Jake Ritter said.
In varsity action in Fairbanks on Friday, Eielson blanked Sitka 33-0.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
CRIMSON BEARS 64, KINGS 0
Friday's game from Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park
KETCHIKAN 0 0 0 0 - 0
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 31 14 12 7 - 64
Juneau-Douglas - Keys 81 punt return (Isett kick), 10:02.
Juneau-Douglas - FG Isett 40, 6:34.
Juneau-Douglas - Keys 15 pass from M. Shilling (Isett kick), 3:36.
Juneau-Douglas - R. West 2 run (Isett kick), 3:12.
Juneau-Douglas - Winters 17 run (Isett kick), 0:49.
Juneau-Douglas - Malacas 20 pass from Kohan (Isett kick), 7:17.
Juneau-Douglas - Candalaria 1 run (Isett kick), 6:49.
Juneau-Douglas - Boz 5 run (Boz kick failed, bad snap), 6:29.
Juneau-Douglas - Antrim 1 run (Boz kick blocked), 2:32.
Juneau-Douglas - T. Topui 2 run (Boz kick), 8:36.
First downs 3 8
Rushes-yards 27-(-69) 33-203
Passing yards 39 76
Return yards 61 152
Comp-att-int 3-13-4 5-9-0
Sacked-yards lost 3-8 0-0
Punts-ave 4-28.0 1-33.0
Fumbles-lost 9-4 1-0
Penalties-yards 3-15 6-45
RUSHING - Ketchikan: Ashcraft 6-14, Hamilton 9-3, Stockli 2-(-5), Eubanks 2-(-5), Runnion 8-(-37), Hoyt 1-(-39). Juneau-Douglas: Winters 2-48, Antrim 5-45, Talamai 1-35, T. Topui 7-21, Richey 4-16, Mahler 2-13, Felix 3-10, Starbard 1-7, Boz 1-5, R. West 1-2, Barry 1-1, Fagerstrom 1-1, Candalaria 2-1, Lehauli 1-0, Kohan 1-(-2).
PASSING - Ketchikan: Ashcraft 2-10-3 - 1, Hamilton 1-3-1 - 38. Juneau-Douglas: M. Shilling 2-3-0 - 39, Kohan 2-5-0 - 24, Hinkley 1-1-0 - 13.
RECEIVING - Ketchikan: Stockli 1-38, Runnion 1-4, Eubanks 1-(-3). Juneau-Douglas: Winters 1-24, Malacas 1-20, Keys 1-15, Fagerstrom 1-13, Wright 1-4.
MISSED FIELD GOALS - Ketchikan: None. Juneau-Douglas: Isett 37 (wide right).