There were many stars in the Juneau-Douglas High School football team's 47-6 season-opening victory over the Sitka Wolves Friday night at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
* Jacob Dutton caught a school-record four touchdown passes from quarterback Brett Fairchild.
* Jason Cameron scored two rushing touchdowns and Sione Tupou added another.
* Willy Dodd, one of the smallest players on the field at 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds, grabbed two interceptions and laid out several Sitka players with vicious hits on defense.
* Jake Miller, Colin Conerton, Zac Campbell, Ryan West, Forest Wolfe and Jake Ritter led a defense that held Sitka rushers to 13 carries for negative yardage and 19 carries for no gain or a loss.
There were lots of stars for the Crimson Bears on Friday. But after the game the unsung guys on the offensive line were given credit for the non-conference victory.
"It was all line, that's all the line," Fairchild said when asked about his touchdown connection with Dutton. "There were a few leaks, but you can't score like that if the line's not doing its job. I think everyone on the line was awesome."
"You've got to award our line," Dutton said in a separate interview. "Bret Russell, Jon Moore, Zac Campbell, Kyle Miller and Ryan West were really doing the job. We were on fire. We were sizzling."
Tupou's touchdown run featured one of the more dazzling jukes of the night, but even he was giving the line full credit.
"There was a lot of blocking there, and I just had to run through the maze," Tupou said. "They were opening up the holes. I thought they were doing an awesome job."
Even with all the kudos, Russell said things will need to get better before this Friday's 7 p.m. home game against the Bartlett Golden Bears, one of the preseason picks to win the state title. Russell, Juneau's center and offensive line captain, feels the line needs to gel a little bit more as the Crimson Bears head into their Cook Inlet Football Conference schedule. With several new starters it will take some time to become a cohesive unit, but Russell said the line is starting to click together.
"We had a lot of young guys who didn't know what they were doing, and we had some older guys who were kind of rusty," Russell said. "It's not the best performance. But I was impressed with Kyle Miller and Ryan West. I'm surprised by how far we've come together."
Entering Friday's game, Juneau was expected to win since it's a much-larger school playing in a tougher conference than Sitka, which is only in its second year of varsity football. But that doesn't mean the Crimson Bears were looking past the Wolves. Sitka's varsity team beat Juneau's junior varsity last year and the Crimson Bears knew an upset would make Sitka's season.
"I was a little nervous because our last practice was flat," Cameron said. "We definitely stepped up."
"Last year I was the JV quarterback and they gave me a pounding. This time I got to give some of it back," said Dodd, whose two interceptions late in the second quarter both set up touchdowns (on one, Dodd lateralled the ball to Eric Tollefson for a 37-yard return). "I looked back for the ball and saw Tollefson as this guy was about to take me down, so I pitched it over to him."
Juneau struck first as Cameron scored on a four-yard run late in the first quarter. But Sitka tied the score at 6-6 on the first play of the second quarter as Elgin Hollins caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Travis Bradshaw.
But Sitka, which didn't have much depth to begin with, began to wear down as several players missed plays with cramps (Hollins left the game four times with cramps) and fullback-linebacker Dan Stockel injured his shoulder. Juneau scored 34 points in the second quarter, with three touchdowns coming in the final two minutes of the half.
Cameron scored on a five-yard run up the middle and Dutton caught his first touchdown pass on a 22-yard reception midway through the quarter to make it 20-6. Then Sitka center Charles Backus snapped the ball way over punter Cody Campbell's head and Juneau recovered to set up Tupou's 14-yard touchdown run. Dodd's first interception and lateral to Tollefson set up a nine-yard touchdown reception by Dutton, and his second interception and 28-yard return set up a 15-yard touchdown reception by Dutton.
"It was a little bit us wearing them down, and a little getting over the first-game jitters," Juneau coach Reilly Richey said. "We talked to them about sticking with the game plan, about not panicking and not to get out of our game plan if it took us awhile to get going. We played well. We're happy."
"It was great, I thought the defense stepped up," Jake Miller said. "We were just hungry."
Juneau closed out the scoring early in the third quarter on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Fairchild to Dutton, which broke the school record for most touchdown receptions in a single game and tied the record for most touchdown passes in a game. After that, Juneau puts its junior varsity squad on the field and the game was scoreless the rest of the way.
"They're a great team and they were real prepared," Hollins said of Juneau. "They've been together for a long time. This is what we needed."
Despite the loss, the Sitka players said the Juneau game will prepare the Wolves for a run at Greatland Conference rival and defending small schools state champion Nikiski. Sitka hosts Ketchikan this Saturday, then enters conference play.
"We knew we might come in and take a pounding," Bradshaw said. "But this definitely helps us prepare for Nikiski. We need to work harder."
"It was just a lot of little mistakes," Sitka lineman Mike Loucks said. "We only had two weeks to prepare, and that's really not enough. It's time to move on and look at Ketchikan."
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
CRIMSON BEARS 47, WOLVES 6
Friday's game at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park
SITKA 0 6 0 0 -- 6
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 6 34 7 0 -- 47
Juneau-Douglas -- Cameron 4 run (kick failed), 4:10.
Sitka -- Hollins 23 pass from Bradshaw (pass failed), 11:52.
Juneau-Douglas -- Cameron 5 run (Sullivan kick), 9:52.
Juneau-Douglas -- Dutton 22 pass from Fairchild (Sullivan kick), 6:36.
Juneau-Douglas -- Tupou 14 run (kick blocked), 1:54.
Juneau-Douglas -- Dutton 9 pass from Fairchild (pass failed), 0:56.
Juneau-Douglas -- Dutton 15 pass from Fairchild (J. Miller pass from Dodd), 0:23.
Juneau-Douglas -- Dutton 39 pass from Fairchild (Sullivan kick), 8:42.
First downs 11 6
Rushes-yards 37-47 31-178
Passing yards 179 117
Comp-att-int 16-29-2 6-12-1
Return yards 73 111
Sacked-yards lost 3-14 0-0
Punts-ave 4-37.3 3-29.3
Fumbles-lost 9-2 3-1
Penalties-yards 5-15 6-50
RUSHING -- Sitka: Houston 12-45, Ferguson 4-26, Stockel 3-8, Stevens 7-3, Hollins 1-0, Bradshaw 10-(-16), Campbell 1-(-19). Juneau-Douglas: Cameron 11-39, Tupou 2-35, Winn 2-34, Fairchild 1-23, Dubois 7-18, Felix 3-8, Dutton 1-7, Winters 3-3, Clair 1-1.
PASSING -- Sitka: Bradshaw 16-25-2-179, Warden 0-4-0-0. Juneau-Douglas: Fairchild 6-11-0-117, Dubois 0-1-1-0.
RECEIVING -- Sitka: Wilmont 5-84, Hollins 2-36, Bergman 2-14, Uddipa 2-13, Houston 1-13, Stockel 1-7, Campbell 1-7, Ferguson 2-5. Juneau-Douglas: Dutton 5-98, J. Miller 1-19.
MISSED FIELD GOALS -- None.