After three straight weeks on the road coupled with an off-week, Thunder Mountain football is finally coming home to Juneau tonight for the very first time.
The Falcons, fresh off their first-ever win last week at Ketchikan, are facing their Week 1 opponent, Sitka, in a return game at 8 p.m. The Wolves won 20-6 in the teams' season opener, but TMHS coach Bill Byouer said things will be different this time around.
"We had a lot of miscues and errors last time, a lot of fumbles," he said. "We just weren't on the same page. We started seeing it come together in Kodiak, and this game here with Sitka, I feel that it will be a completely different kind of game."
Byouer said the offense has done a 180 after some early-season growing pains.
"We have a different offense playing well," he said. "There's a complete different turnaround in players and where their positions are at. When you start the season, you realize that some kids can't play some positions, so you move them to a different spot and they do an excellent job.
"We've got a little more power in our running game, and the linemen are blocking a lot better," he continued. "Our quarterbacks and running backs are seeing the hole, and they've got more knowledge of the plays and a better understanding of what's expected."
Sitka runs the Wing-T, an offense predicated on running the football. Byouer said the Wolves also caught the Falcons off guard with a couple of passes.
"Defensively, we've got to stop their outside run," he said. "They run the Wing-T, and they like to run the buck sweep on the outside. They've got some big linemen, and they were running away from one side of ours, so we're going to make sure they can't run away from us."
Bears host East Valley
After picking up a crucial conference win over Palmer last weekend, Juneau-Douglas is home again Saturday for the second straight week, this time against Washington's East Valley High School.
The Crimson Bears pounded the Moose 36-7 last week with a heavy dose of Matthew Maka, who carried the ball 32 times for 301 yards and four touchdowns, while quarterback Phillip Fenumiai attempted just four passes under heavy winds.
Interim head coach Rich Sjoroos said he hopes for the offensive attack to be more balanced this week, weather permitting. The Bears have never faced East Valley, though they have seen a team from the same area. Pasco came into Kennedy-Adair Memorial Park in 2005 and laid a 48-7 loss on JDHS.
"That was our only loss that year," Sjoroos said. "It's good to see another team from that area, which is rich in football tradition."
Sjoroos said he expects East Valley to be very strong given the fact its coaches sought out the game against JDHS.
"They put out some pretty phenomenal players that have played in college and at the NFL level from that area of the state," he said. "A team doesn't make that kind of a leap and go on that kind of an adventure unless they've got a team worth showcasing."
It will be East Valley's season opener, and the team runs a Wing-T that features the passing game a little more than normal.
"They'll spread things out a little more than most Wing-T teams that we've seen," Sjoroos said. "There's a lot of things to prepare for."
Sjoroos said though he hopes to put the ball in the air more this week, the way the offensive line blocked for Maka's career day was a good sign.
"Fortunately for us, we were able to get that running game going," he said. "I was really impressed with how our guys stayed on their blocks all night long. It's nice to know we can go to that if we need to, but I would like to develop our passing game and get a little more balance going for this week and the weeks to come."