PALMER - Opposing Cook Inlet Football Conference coaches who think Juneau-Douglas might be a powerful one-trick pony behind all-state running back Brian Felix are advised to adjust their vision.
Can you say "Air Crimson Bear?"
With Felix being slowly integrated into the offense after off-season knee surgery, Juneau quarterbacks Pat Kohan and Chris Hinkley hooked up with nine different receivers Saturday night in a season-opening, 37-0 nonconference victory over the Palmer Moose at Machetanz Field.
Kohan, who played the first half, and Hinkley, who took over in the second half, combined to connect on 18 of 26 attempts for 226 yards and three touchdowns. Kohan, a junior, was 10 of 16 for 104 yards and a score. Hinkley, a sophomore, was 8 of 10 for 122 yards and two scores.
If Saturday was an accurate indication, it's tough to say who is No. 1.
"It's a nice predicament," said Juneau coach Reilly Richey. "We might be one of those teams that goes back and forth and finds the hot hand."
Last season, when the Crimson Bears went 8-3 and lost to East Anchorage in the large schools state championship game, Felix ran for 1,975 yards and 22 touchdowns. But he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in the spring, and Saturday he carried the ball a mere 10 times for 53 yards and one touchdown, light labor compared to his usual workmanlike load.
"The pounding over the course of the season takes its toll," said Richey, who plans to break in Felix slowly. "He's a team player. He's not the kind who says, 'I need carries.' He's team-first."
And Felix does more than run the ball. With Juneau leading 13-0 in the first quarter, Palmer running back Jake Heun tried to pitch the ball back where he got it - quarterback Devon Conroy - only to have Juneau's Ryan Fagerstrom snatch the ball and race 79 yards for a touchdown.
"I just saw green," Fagerstrom said of the open field before him. "I looked behind me because I'm really slow, and Felix was blocking a guy. I wouldn't have scored without him."
The Crimson Bears also picked up a first-quarter rushing touchdown from Angelo Katasse, who's also coming off of a leg injury that kept him out of action last season. Kohan connected with Landon Harris for a second-quarter passing touchdown, while Hinkley threw touchdown passes to Larry Cooper and Josh Lehauli in the third quarter.
Juneau's quarterbacks impressed Palmer coach Rod Christiansen, who noted that the Moose didn't put Kohan or Hinkley in any tough spots.
"We weren't putting a whole lot of pressure on them, or covering guys, and that's part of it," Christiansen said. "We can't give them that kind of time."
Palmer, the defending Railbelt Conference champion, turned over the ball four times, but Christiansen still chuckled about the pitch that went poorly.
"That was drawn up by those two boys at that moment," Christiansen said with a laugh. "I told them, 'This is not Nintendo football.'"
Juneau appeared crisp offensively, but its tackling was shoddy, although the elusive Conroy will probably make quite a few people look bad this season.
Still, the Crimson Bears took the first step toward their 2004 goal, which they wear proudly.
The helmet of each Juneau player bears a small, white sticker that reads:
That's the date and time of the state championship game.
CRIMSON BEARS 37, MOOSE 0
Saturday's boxscore from Machetanz Field
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 19 6 12 0 - 37
PALMER 0 0 0 0 - 0
Juneau - Felix 1 run (Cooper kick), 5:06.
Juneau - Katasse 8 run (kick blocked), 3:04.
Juneau - Fagerstrom 79 fumble return (kick blocked), 0:29.
Juneau - Harris 12 pass from Kohan (pass failed), 3:23
Juneau - Cooper 33 pass from Hinkley (kick blocked), 10:14.
Juneau - Lehauli 8 pass from Hinkley (kick failed), 6:03
First downs 18 13
Rushes-yards 25-123 41-117
Passing yards 226 47
Return yards 91 88
Comp-att-int 18-26-0 3-5-0
Punts-ave 2-38.0 2-31.5
Fumbles-lost 0-0 6-3
Penalties-yards 5-59 4-30
RUSHING - Juneau: Felix 10-53, Cooper 2-30, Lehauli 5-17, Katasse 2-15, Ritter 1-6, Richey 1-4, Kohan 1-1, Hinkley 3-(-3). Palmer: Conroy 21-65, Tubbs 15-55, Heun 5-7.
PASSING - Juneau: Hinkley 8-10-0-122, Kohan 10-16-0-104. Palmer: Conroy 3-5-0-47.
RECEIVING - Juneau: Katasse 5-77, Lehauli 3-58, Hutcherson 3-42, Richey 3-25, Fagerstrom 1-22, Harris 1-12, Felix 1-9, Van Alen 1-4, Sanbei 1-1. Palmer: Olson 3-47.
MISSED FIELD GOALS - None.
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