As the Juneau-Douglas High School football team was warming up before its 27-8 upset victory over the two-time defending state champion Service Cougars Friday night, Juneau lineman Henry Wyatt looked across the rainy Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park football field and saw something that made him livid.
"They were bouncing up and down as they yelled, 'This is our field. This is our field,'" Wyatt said. "I guess we made them learn. This isn't their field. This is our field."
Juneau so dominated the Cougars, who were ranked third in the state coaches' poll entering the game, that Service didn't threaten to score until the fourth quarter. Juneau's defense held the Cougars to just 131 yards rushing -- about a third of their usual average of 350 yards a game -- and the Crimson Bears forced Service into eight fumbles and recovered four.
On offense, Juneau showed balance as the Crimson Bears rushed for 142 yards and quarterback Brett Fairchild threw for 181. Those passing numbers would have been higher, but the Crimson Bears had touchdown passes of 74 and 77 yards called back by penalties. Juneau receivers also dropped at least four catchable balls. On the other hand, Service didn't even complete a pass until the first play of the fourth quarter.
"Tonight we proved we can play with any team in the state," Juneau lineman Jason 'Train' Kaeser said. "I don't even think some of our fans thought we could do this."
With the victory, the unranked Crimson Bears kept alive an eight-game home winning streak. Most important, the Crimson Bears stayed alive in a battle for one of the four Cook Inlet Football Conference berths in the state playoffs. Juneau now has an outside shot at being able to host one of the first-round games the weekend of Oct. 6-7.
Down you go: Juneau's Cal Craig (4, left) tackles Service running back Dawson Marchant (22) after a short gain Friday night.
MICHAEL PENN / THE JUNEAU EMPIRE
"Tonight, we found our intensity," said Juneau tight end/defensive end Justin Rose, who was suffering from a sore shoulder, broken finger and a few cobwebs from some of the game's most bone-crunching hits. "We executed perfectly."
In past years, including two victories over the Crimson Bears last season, Service (4-2 overall, 3-1 CIFC) dominated Juneau largely because of the play of the Cougars' quick, but powerful offensive line. The Cougars got off a couple of long runs to open the game, but then Juneau's defense stiffened and suddenly Service developed a case of butterfingers. Any time Service seemed to finally be mounting a drive, the ball popped loose and Juneau (3-2 overall, 2-2 CIFC) recovered.
"We've got to hold onto the ball," Service coach Jason Caldarera said. "They (the Crimson Bears) certainly played well. But the biggest thing was we didn't hold onto the ball."
When it was Juneau's turn on offense, the offensive line got the better of Service's defensive front. Even though Juneau is known as a passing team, the Cougars played defense like they expected Juneau to run, sometimes throwing as many as nine guys up near the line and leaving just two defensive backs to cover Juneau's receivers. Juneau's offensive line not only protected Fairchild, but gave him enough time to look to his second and third options on some pass plays.
"I had a lot of time, and a lot of that has to do with the offensive line," Fairchild said. "They were giving me tons of time. The line was just exceptional. And we really worked on our reads last week. Now we know we can play in any weather."
Service's hard-charging defense also had a tendency to overpursue, which led to Juneau's first touchdown. Fairchild took the ball on a keeper then, when Service's defense collapsed to the middle, Fairchild bounced off the right tackle for an 8-yard touchdown run. The overpursuit also played a hand in Juneau's second touchdown late in the first quarter, as Fairchild found Jason Cameron on a short screen pass and Cameron ran 34 yards into the end zone.
"Our offensive line did the best it's done all season, and our defense was phenomenal," said Cameron, who was taken to the hospital with a concussion last week after a hit in Juneau's 42-7 loss to undefeated Dimond.
"We owe it all to these guys," Jacob Dutton said as he pointed to some of the nearby Juneau linemen. "It was all the line today, we were just the extra parts."
CRIMSON BEARS 27, COUGARS 8
SERVICE 0 2 0 6 -- 8
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 13 6 8 0 -- 27
Juneau-Douglas -- Bre. Fairchild 8 run (Ritter kick), 4:15.
Juneau-Douglas -- Cameron 34 pass from Bre. Fairchild (kick failed), 0:34.
Service -- Safety, Connally takes knee in end zone on Juneau punt, 8:51.
Juneau-Douglas -- Dutton 13 pass from Bre. Fairchild (kick failed), 3:51.
Juneau-Douglas -- Cameron 16 run (Connally run), 8:24.
Service -- Ersland 3 pass from Morgan (run failed), 11:00.
First downs 9 15
Rushes-yards 39-131 47-142
Passing yards 57 181
Comp-att-int 3-9-0 9-23-1
Return yards 85 22
Punts-ave 3-38.3 1-35.0
Fumbles-lost 8-4 4-2
Penalties-yards 4-41 9-61
RUSHING -- Service: Marchant 13-69, Ersland 13-48, Lazar 4-17, Dougherty 1-4, Wheeler 2-0, Morgan 3-(-7). Juneau-Douglas: Cameron 14-79, Clair 5-43, B. West 4-27, Tupou 1-7, Drennan 5-2, Bre. Fairchild 14-(-3), Connally 4-(-13).
PASSING -- Service: Morgan 3-6-0 -- 57, Wheeler 0-3-0 -- 0. Juneau-Douglas: Bre. Fairchild 9-23-1 -- 181.
RECEIVING -- Service: M. Akers 1-50, Worthington 1-4, Ersland 1-3. Juneau-Douglas: Connally 3-70, Dutton 3-56, Cameron 3-55.
MISSED FIELD GOALS -- None.