Both of Juneau's prep football teams are heading into Week 2 of the 2010 season on a high note after impressive season-opening performances by Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain.
The Crimson Bears blew the doors off of South Anchorage, 55-14 at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, while the Falcons hit the road and took it to Southeast Conference rival Sitka to the tune of 40-17.
Both teams won in impressive fashion while coming away without any new injuries to report, though Thunder Mountain was aleady down four players.
Week 2 begins tonight at 8 p.m. with Thunder Mountain hosting Homer, which defeated Nikiski 14-8 last weekend.
The Falcons' big win last weekend garnered the team its first-ever ranking in the Alaska Sports Broadcast Network small schools poll, where TMHS checked in at No. 5. Homer is ranked just ahead at No. 4.
"This is our first step. We got the ranking and Homer is fourth after beating Nikiski," coach Bill Byouer said. "They have a pretty big line and the've got their stuff together. They run a Single Wing (offense) and they're going to come right at us.
"It looks like they've got some speed outside," he continued. "I think we're ready. We've had a good week of practice and the tempo has stepped up a whole lot, so I'm impressed with that."
From a numbers standpoint, the teams are close to even. The Mariners have 14 kids on their varsity roster at this point, while the Falcons plan to dress about 18.
The Falcons are without incoming junior Sean Niematuai, sophomore-to-be Greg Gilchrest and rising seniors Tyee Dunlap and Ty McMichael.
The forecast calls for another day like Thursday with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60s, though the possibility for rain always exists in Juneau.
"The guys are excited to play," Byouer said. "It's supposed to be nice weather, and the kids were actually getting a little hot at practice (Thursday).
"Those Juneau boys, anything over 50 degrees is hot for them."
Byouer hopes the nice weather will bring a big crowd.
"The first home game, it gets everybody excited and pumped up. We should have a nice big crowd," he said. "It's a bummer that JDHS is out of town or they'd be there to support us, too.
"It will be good to see how the kids perform in front of the home crowd," he continued. "It's always an added boost to be at home and we've already shown that we can do something while we were out of town."
Juneau-Douglas climbed up to No. 2 in the latest ASBN poll, and the Crimson Bears open Railbelt Conference play with three straight road games beginning with West Valley on Saturday at 6 p.m.
West Valley won its season opener 27-14 over East Anchorage.
"We have the furthest distance to travel right off the bat heading up to Fairbanks, and West Valley presents a whole different animal from what we've seen so far this year," JDHS coach Rich Sjoroos said. "They have a whole new program - new coach, new uniforms, a new look and a lot of new energy. We've got to go up into that environment and get the job done."
Sjoroos said West Valley is a bit of an unknown at this point with a new coaching staff in place, but he expects them to mirror defending state champion Bartlett after taking some of their coaches.
"They're trying to implement a lot of those (Bartlett) philosophies into their program," he said. "I don't know much about the personnel that they've got, but I do know they've gotten a huge number of kids out for the team so that tells me they're doing something right."
Sjoroos said everyone was pleased with the way JDHS lit up the scoreboard against South, and he also likes the way the team responded in practice this week.
"I think everybody's happy with the way we played. I like everybody's mentality and demeanor - we're not satisfied. I don't think anybody wants that to be the high point of the season," he said. "Our next five games are all conference opponents, and we've got see how we react on the road without our fan base."
The run game is where Sjoroos sees the most room for improvement, as well as cutting down on penalties.
"I don't think we're near as polished in our run game as we'd like to be. We're going to continue to work on that," he said. "And we had 12 penalties. A lot of them were the five-yard kind but we definitely want to clean that up and eliminate that as we move forward."
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