The Juneau-Douglas football team's 35-9 season-opening win over visiting Kenai Saturday wasn't just impressive, it proved record-breaking as well.
Junior quarterback Chris Hinkley set a new Crimson Bears record for passing yards in a game with 287 yards. Hinkley completed 17-of-26 passes with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
While Hinkley was sharp, he benefited greatly from terrific downfield blocking by his wide receivers and an intelligent offensive line who smartly negated the Kardinals' blitz schemes.
"There's so much you can do every down when you don't have the ball," JDHS offensive coordinator Rich Sjoroos said of the downfield blocking. "They were big blocks too, not just screen blocks where you just get in someone's way. That was good."
A key to Saturday's victory was the all-around play of Josh Lehauli.
The senior lined up as a slot wide receiver in Sjoroos' attack and occasionally motioned into the fullback position against Kenai. He also played defense, returned kicks and was part of the kickoff coverage team.
Lehauli caught six passes for 122 yards and a TD, rushed five times for 12 yards and delivered a handful of bone-jarring blocks.
"He packs a wallop," Sjoroos said of Lehauli. "He keeps his motor on all the time. He's been around football long enough where he understands the game, anticipates, delivers a hard blow and has good technique."
The Crimson Bears' offense exploited Kenai's aggressive defense by utilizing a short-passing game. When the Kardinals decided to bring six or seven blitzers, Hinkley alertly found Angelo Katasse or Lehauli in the flat for a completion. The receivers then racked up yards after the catch.
The short passing game also opened room for running back Tres Saldivar. The senior posted 150 rushing yards and a TD on just 13 carries.
"He's not a big guy but he makes shifty moves and moves as he goes forward," Sjoroos said. "He's got a little power to him."
While the offense did a solid job of executing their game plan, the Crimson Bears' defense delivered a dominating effort.
JDHS limited Kenai to 64 yards of total offense to give head coach Bill Chalmers and defensive coordinator Eddie Brakes a win in their varsity debuts.
Kenai could not get either its option game or power running attack going as the defensive line and linebackers expertly read each play and swarmed the ball-carrier.
"Everybody just read their keys," Brakes said. "The pass coverage was great, the defensive line did a great job of not giving (Kenai quarterback Tyler Chappell) any time to set up. We sent the heat and it paid off."
While the front eight for Juneau played extremely tough, the secondary delivered perhaps the key play of the game.
On a fourth-and-goal from the Juneau 2-yard line in the third quarter, cornerback Joe Kohan tackled wide receiver Bill Chimphalee inches from the endzone to keep his side ahead 28-7.
"If it was 28-14, it would've been a different ball game," Brakes said. "The kids were pumped and they stepped it up. They were stingy. They wouldn't let them in the end zone."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com
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