The Chugiak Mustangs are undefeated and ranked second in the state's coaches polls, but they will be wary when they play the fifth-ranked and undefeated Juneau-Douglas High School football team in a Cook Inlet Football Conference game at 2 p.m. Saturday at Chugiak High School. The game will be broadcast locally on KINY, 800-AM radio.
The Mustangs hold a 7-1 advantage in the overall series with the Crimson Bears, but Chugiak is still smarting from its 27-25 loss at Juneau's Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park last season. The Juneau players figure Chugiak will be looking for revenge, and Mustangs coach Travis Cantrell said the Juneau players are right.
"We're loaded for Bears," Cantrell said. "We made it close last year with a couple of late scores, but we made some mistakes that cost us the game. If we hadn't snapped the ball 30 yards over the punter's head, or had that interception returned for a touchdown, the game would have been a lot different. But we beat ourselves."
"We have a ton of respect for Chugiak," Juneau coach Reilly Richey said. "But we are still cautiously optimistic."
Juneau (3-0 overall and 2-0 in the CIFC) is coming off a 28-10 victory over West Anchorage last Saturday, Juneau's first road win since the 1999 state football playoffs. Chugiak (also 3-0 and 2-0 CIFC) edged Bartlett 20-12 last Friday night. Juneau edged Bartlett 13-7 two weeks ago and many of the Crimson Bears watched Chugiak's game with Bartlett.
"Bartlett was a big test for us, and right now its an underrated team because they've played us and Chugiak," Juneau quarterback Brett Fairchild said. "Statistically, Bartlett beat Chugiak."
Cantrell said Chugiak is very similar to Juneau because he runs plays out of several offensive formations and his team's not afraid to throw the ball.
"We're a lot alike and we do a lot of the same stuff," Cantrell said. "The thing with Juneau is you're going to be playing against a veteran team and when you do that you have to work that much harder. They've got that funky double-wing they used in the second half against West, and we've got two or three different offenses people haven't seen yet."
Chugiak quarterback Tim Hehnlin has thrown for 477 yards (23-for-39) with three touchdowns and four interceptions, with wide receiver George Lochner catching 11 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. The Mustangs also have one of the stronger running attacks in the state as Michael John has rushed for 473 yards and five touchdowns on 77 carries.
Juneau is led by Fairchild, who has completed 29 of 48 passes for 368 yards and six touchdowns, with just one interception. Juneau wide receiver Jacob Dutton has nine receptions for 190 yards and six touchdowns, while fullback Sione Tupou has eight receptions for 101 yards. The Crimson Bears' rushing attack is led by Jason Cameron, who has 213 yards and three touchdowns, while Tupou has scored three rushing touchdowns and Dutton has one score while both gaining 75 yards.
"They've got a pretty good quarterback and some big guys on the line," Fairchild said. "Their big thing is intimidating you and trying to beat you off the ball with the line."
"We've just been working extra hard," Juneau lineman Zac Campbell said. "We're looking to start it off, and get our offense working. West had too much penetration on us and they stopped our running game in the first half. We also had too many penalties and they were drive killers. They're offensive line is big, but it's nothing we haven't seen before."
Juneau struggled early against West, trailing 10-7 at halftime as the Crimson Bears racked up 105 yards in penalties in the first quarter alone. But Juneau, which was ranked third in the state a week ago, came back in the second half and dominated play. The Juneau players know they can't suffer a similar lapse against Chugiak.
"We'll be way better," Dutton said. "We didn't focus last week. We didn't have any intensity and we weren't stepping up, and we can't do that against Chugiak. But they're mortal."
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.