The Juneau-Douglas High School football teams looks to rebound at home, the cross country runners head north to Anchorage and the swimmers and divers trek to Petersburg this weekend.
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The fall sports season remains in its early stages, but this weekend represents an important time for the teams involved.
First off, the football team hosts resurgent Wasilla at 8 p.m. tonight at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park in a key Railbelt Conference matchup. The junior varsity kicks off at 5 p.m.
The Warriors (2-2, 1-1) sit in the middle of the conference standings and are rapidly improving.
Wasilla may not be ready to challenge the Railbelt Conference's upper echelon teams, but new coach Jim Shetter is instilling a winning mentality in his young team.
The Warriors two wins double last season's total, and their 9-7 victory over West Valley is their first conference victory in two seasons.
Juneau-Douglas (3-1, 2-1) must be aware of Wasilla's prowess on special teams. Jeff Chapman has returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns this season, and kicker Vladimir Dahl can hit from 45 yards and longer.
Expect the most experienced Crimson Bears to come out with fire and intensity following last Friday's defeat to Palmer.
Juneau's defense has allowed just 32 points this season and hounded quarterbacks and running backs all season. Phil Moser, Faifo Levale, Donovan Wilson and Zach Heppner have been stalwarts along the line, while safety Kanaan Bausler has done an excellent job of reading the opposing offenses.
Offensively, senior Chris Hinkley goes up against a front that has allowed an average of 21.3 points per game. Expect Hinkley to spread the ball to Alex Fagerstrom, Alex Robinson and Carlo Ebron, while taking shots deep with senior speedster Daryl Lew.
On the ground, Nate Wilson could post a big night against a defense that allowed more than 300 yards to North Pole last weekend.
Crimson Bears football
Railbelt Conference action
Who: Juneau-Douglas vs. Wasilla.
When: JV at 5 p.m. tonight, varsity at 8 p.m.
Where: Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
What's at stake: The Crimson Bears (3-1, 2-1) look to stay in the conference championship hunt, while the Warriors (2-1, 1-1) can triple their total wins from last year with a victory.
The JDHS boys and girls cross country teams face their stiffest challenge to date, as the varsity heads to Anchorage for the Dimond Lynx Invitational on Saturday. The Crimson Bears junior varsity travels to Skagway on Saturday.
After competing against Southeast Conference teams exclusively for the first two weeks this season, the Crimson Bears get a chance to see how they do against some of Alaska's best teams.
The girls team hasn't been stopped, as freshman Leah Francis continues to improve. Francis won her second straight race last weekend in Sitka by nearly a full minute. Saturday will be her first official race against statewide competition.
Juniors Katie Krehlik and Kirsten Jorgensen shouldn't be overlooked just because they haven't crossed the tape first. The duo has consistently finished in the top five and have been shaving seconds off their 5-kilometer times.
Krehlik, Jorgensen and Francis - along with Leigh Miller, Annika Ord, Evelyn Fisher, Brittany Lehnhart and Isabel Bush - should help push JDHS to the front of the standings.
In two races this season, the boys team continues to show its depth and speed.
Andrew Flansaas, Hunter Brown and Nils Domke are emerging as an effective trio up front. Nathan Ord, Daniel Stoops, Gus Browning and Ray Huebschen are proving themselves to be top flight runners.
How they do in Anchorage will show where they are statewide and what they need to do to prepare for the region and state meets.
SWIMMING AND DIVING
In Petersburg, coach John Wray and Jamie Miller's swimming and diving teams will hit the pool for their third and fourth meets of the season tonight and Saturday. The Crimson Bears will take 26 athletes to the early season meet.
This weekend will also make the season debut of Kyle O'Brien. The senior won two state titles last season and will join the team this weekend. This weekend will also mark the debuts of highly touted freshmen Cody Brunette and Seth Cayce. Junior Ian Kelley will also be making the trip, along with Nathan Teal, Alex Barto, Nick Rutecki and Josh Clark.
The defending state champion girls team will be bringing the same high-powered lineup that ran away with two meets in Sitka two weeks ago.
Led by a powerful junior class and four key seniors - Amanda Jones, Julia DiCostanzo, Erika O'Sullivan and Katie Boyce - the girls team appears poised for another state championship run.
It's still early in the season, however, so expect different relay combinations and swimmers hopping from event to event as Wray experiments with his lineup.
These two meets will help the coaches assess how training is going before the team makes its home debut on Sept. 22.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com.
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