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Fine-tuning the machine

Key adjustments lead to positive actions for Crimson Bears

Posted: Monday, September 03, 2007

Football games aren't generally won by just one particular play. It's about the culmination of actions, reactions, discoveries and adjustments.

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In the Juneau-Douglas High School football team's 28-7 home win Friday over Palmer, a couple key adjustments led to a series of actions resulting in victory.

Late in the first half, the Moose discovered what Crimson Bears defensive coordinator Eddie Brakes labeled as "a hole in the bucket."

Palmer used fullback Shannon Sawyer, off tackle runs by Devin Konkler, and quarterback keepers by Conrad Smith to march 75 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown.

RAILBELT CONFERENCE

(Conference, Overall)

Juneau-Douglas (3-0, 4-0)

Colony (2-0, 3-1)

Wasilla (1-1, 3-1)

Palmer (1-1, 1-3)

Lathrop (1-2, 1-3)

North Pole (1-2, 1-3)

West Valley (0-3, 0-4)

Friday's scores:

Juneau-Douglas 28, Palmer 7

North Pole 28, Wasilla 7

South Anchorage 35, Colony 0

Saturday's game:

Lathrop 63, West Valley 10

Sept. 7 games:

Colony at Palmer, 7 p.m.

North Pole at Lathrop, 6 p.m.

Sept. 8 games:

Juneau-Douglas at Wasilla, 4 p.m.

West Valley at Service, noon

COOK INLET CONFERENCE

(Conference, Overall)

Chugiak (3-0, 3-1)

Service (3-1, 3-1)

Dimond (2-1, 3-1)

East Anchorage (2-2, 2-2)

Bartlett (1-2, 2-2)

South Anchorage (1-2, 2-2)

West Anchorage (1-2, 2-2)

Eagle River (0-3, 0-4)

Friday's scores:

West Anchorage 40, Eagle River 13

East Anchorage 24, Dimond 13

South Anchorage 35, Colony 0

Saturday's scores:

Service 41, Bartlett 19

Bothell, Wash. 45, Chugiak 7

Sept. 7 games:

East Anchorage at American Fork, Utah., 7 p.m.

South Anchorage vs. West Anchorage, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 8 games:

Bartlett vs. Chugiak, 7 p.m.

Eagle River at Dimond, 2:30 p.m.

West Valley at Service, noon

After that drive, however, Brakes and his defense adjusted their tactics to stop the Moose's rushing attack.

"(JDHS defensive end) Zach Heppner did a good job communicating what he thought needed to be changed. Faifo (Levale) was also telling me," Brakes said. "They helped me move things around and patch the holes."

The key move proved to be switching Phil Moser from defensive tackle to nose guard and moving Levale from nose tackle to Moser's place.

The move helped plug the hole in the bucket. After rushing for 52 first half yards, Sawyer managed just five yards on five carries after halftime.

As a team, Palmer gained 17 yards in the entire second half.

With Levale attracting two blockers at defensive tackles, linebackers Tuavao Maake and Donovan Wilson were freed up to make more plays because of the extra attention paid to the 280-pound senior.

"He's now making a big difference on the defensive line," Brakes said of Levale.

Also, defensive tackle Chance Galletes started to penetrate the backfield more while ends Heppner and Dominic Smith didn't allow anyone to get outside of them. The two defensive ends recorded one sack and one forced fumble each.

"We told both of them they were going to set the tone for the game," Brakes said.

Defensive secondary member Alex Fagerstrom also made a couple big tackles in the win.

Offensively, JDHS struggled to find a rhythm until the fourth quarter.

"We ran just 10 plays in the entire first half," JDHS offensive coordinator Rich Sjoroos said. "It took us a while to get something going."

Juneau-Douglas' key adjustment on offense came earlier in the second half. Fagerstrom went to quarterback while sophomore Silver Maake, returning for a separated shoulder suffered last week, entered the game at tailback.

Fagerstrom, who normally plays running back, gave JDHS an outside rushing threat while Maake can pound opponents inside.

On Juneau's first drive of the fourth quarter, the team traveled 78 yards on eight plays for a score. On the drive, Fagerstrom ran five times for 53 yards on designed keepers while Maake added three rushes for 34 yards.

Maake then iced the win when he busted a 43-yard TD run with less than three minutes left in the game.

"It was getting Alex in at QB with his speed outside and getting Silver in the middle," Sjoroos said. "I don't want to say we wore them down because Palmer is plenty strong, we were just making good blocks. Not huge running lanes, but just big enough. Our guys also did a good job of hitting the holes hard."

Those runs, however, wouldn't have happened if not for the consistent play of the offensive line. Matt Lehrbach, Lawrence Fenumiai, Jake Nelson, Moser and Levale's constant and consistent blocking of the course of Friday's contest helped Juneau's offense get on track when it needed to most.

• Contact sports editor Tim Nichols at 523-2228 or sports@juneauempire.com.



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