Sharp focus and execution propel JDHS

Crimson Bears holding opponents to 9.7 points and 133.3 yards per game

Posted: Monday, September 18, 2006

It didn't matter that Colony's offensive and defensive lines outweighed their Juneau-Douglas High School counterparts by roughly 50 pounds per player Friday.

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The Crimson Bears used their speed and grit to knock off the Alaska Sports Broadcasters Network's top ranked team 22-13 on the road Friday.

"I wish this game was at home so everyone could appreciate the effort," Juneau-Douglas defensive coordinator Eddie Brakes said. "All you had to do was look in the eyes of the defensive unit and they had absolute determination. They were hungry and executed."

Juneau-Douglas limited Colony to just 95 yards of total offense. For the season, JDHS has held opponents to just 133.3 offensive yards and 9.7 points per game.

Defensive linemen Zach Heppner, Tyler Zimmerman, Faifo Levale and Phil Moser, along with lineman/linebacker Donovan Wilson, used their quickness off the ball to disrupt Colony's offense and helped hold Jimenez to 40 rushing yards on 15 carries.

"We mixed up between five and six guys on the ball in the first half," Brakes said. "The majority of the third and all of the fourth quarter, the only people on the defensive line were Heppner, Faifo, Moser and Zimmerman. It gave them a little more room."

Chris Hinkley, who played defense as well as quarterback, recovered a fumble and picked off a pass in the win. Carlo Ebron also had an interception.

With the defense containing Colony's bruising attack, Juneau's victory came down to a few key plays.

After giving up a 35-yard TD pass to Jimenez last in the first half, Juneau blocked the extra point to trail by 13-7 at half. The blocked point meant JDHS could take the lead with a score and a conversion instead of just tie.

"The turning point was when they missed their extra point with 36 seconds to go half," JDHS head coach Bill Chalmers said. "We were able to tell the kids you have to score to win. A 7-7 score is better than 13-7, but 13-7 is a whole lot better than 14-7."

JDHS took the lead in the third quarter when Alex Robinson blocked a punt and Levale recovered the loose ball for his second special teams TD this season.

Dominic Smith's extra point gave JDHS a lead it would not relinquish.

While the defense did an excellent job of keeping Colony in check, Juneau's offense executed perhaps the perfect game plan.

By utilizing a bevy of different running backs and sticking to the running game, the Crimson Bears chewed time off the clock. JDHS ran 60 plays to Colony's 39, keeping the Knights' offense off the field.

"All week everyone was buying into the strategy we wanted to use and everyone was pulling together," JDHS offensive coordinator Rich Sjoroos said. "There were probably 100 little things that made a difference."

Ivan Miramontes, playing running back for the first time, rushed for 14 yards on four carries while Bert Duncan, filling in for the injured Jesse West, made a key catch for a first down in the fourth quarter to set up Hinkley's TD run.

Juneau averaged just 2.5 yards per carry (121 yards on 49 rushes), but did what it had to do. It controlled the clock and kept the chains moving.

"Our philosophy was to run a lot of plays so 3-yard gains work to our advantage," Sjoroos said.

While the win should feel satisfying for the Crimson Bears, it didn't change the playoff picture.

JDHS has clinched a playoff spot while Colony, Palmer and North Pole will likely join the Bears barring collapses. If the Knights, Bears and Moose all win their reminding games, Colony will host fourth-seeded North Pole as the conference champs while JDHS travels to Palmer in the first round.

However, if North Pole upsets Palmer this Saturday and Colony and JDHS win out, then the Crimson Bears will win the conference and host the Moose in the state quarterfinals.

• Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at sports@juneauempire.com.



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