Tonight's contest versus visiting Colony may be the most important game of the year thus far for the Juneau-Douglas High School football team.
With a win, the Crimson Bears (5-0, 4-0 Railbelt) can wrap up the Railbelt Conference championship and sew up a home playoff date in October. Varsity kickoff is at 8 p.m., with the junior varsity starting at 5 p.m.
Juneau-Douglas is ranked second in the state in the latest Anchorage Daily News/Alaska State Coaches Football Pool. The Knights rank fifth.
Colony (4-1, 2-1) is among Alaska's most physical teams and boasts a solid defense.
Juneau-Douglas should also expect the Knights to be in a foul mood after dropping their first game of the year to rival Palmer last week.
Offensively for Colony, senior quarterback Tim Egger can throw the ball and has the ability to spread it out to a variety of receivers.
On the ground, the Knights are led by running back Chebon Jimenez. He is a threat to score every time he touches the ball and set up the Knights' lone score last week with a 51-yard gallop.
Jimenez also scored three rushing touchdowns in a win over North Pole earlier this season.
The Crimson Bears' offense shows no signs of stopping after obliterating host Wasilla last week.
After falling behind 7-0, Juneau-Douglas rallied for 59 unanswered points to remain undefeated.
Juneau junior quarterback Chris Hinkley didn't need to win the game with his arm last week. He still managed to throw for 212 yards and two touchdowns, despite completing only nine passes.
Hinkley currently leads the state in passing with 1,181 passing yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions. He averages 236.2 passing yards per game and has completed 71 of 114 pass attempts, good for a .623 completion percentage.
The Crimson Bears' success through the air can also be attributed to an athletic offensive line and a pair of solid running backs.
Tailback Tres Saldivar and fullback/wide receiver Josh Lehauli have been consistently gobbling up yards on the ground all season long.
The offensive line has also excelled at stopping the blitz and blocking down-field on Juneau's powerful screen pass.
The Bears have scored the second-most points in Alaska, second only to small-school power Eielson, and averages 46 points per game.
Defensively, Juneau-Douglas has been excellent in the secondary. Its front eight has played exceptionally well.
The Crimson Bears have maintained a high level of intensity for each conference game. They'll need continue that to become the first team in Alaska history to win both Cook Inlet and Railbelt Conference titles.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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