Falcons one win away from perfection

Posted: Sunday, September 19, 2010

The road to regular season perfection continues.

Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

Thunder Mountain pounded outgunned Ketchikan 42-14 Friday night in Juneau, earning the second-year Falcons program its first undefeated conference season.

Southeast Conference 4-0 record and a state playoff berth secure: check.

Next up: 8-0.

The key word of the coming week for the Falcons is "focus," senior running back Jesse Conrad said.

"Focus is a big one," he said. "Like Coach just said, 'We can't play like we're the best team. Right now, we're working up that ladder to be the best team."

But there was no doubt who the best team was Friday night against the undermanned Kings.

Thunder Mountain built a 34-0 lead by the end of the first quarter and it could have been worse. Senior running back Cameron Fronimos, one of the state's top rushers, had an off-night - for him.

Fronimos gained 53 yards and scored one touchdown on just six carries - with two fumbles - before taking a spot on the sideline, well below his season averages of 143 yards and two trips to pay dirt per game.

On the Falcons' first possession, senior quarterback Camden Thomas hit fellow senior Donald Stokes over the middle for a 61-yard catch and run, and Thunder Mountain led 6-0 barely 19 seconds into the game.

On second-and-12 from the Kings' 17-yard line on the next Thunder Mountain drive, Fronimos busted one of his patented long runs, juking past and plowing through would-be Ketchikan tacklers all the way down to the goal line, where he fumbled the ball out of the end zone to give the Kings possession at their own 20-yard line.

After a three-and-out by Ketchikan, Brad Soneson stepped in and blocked the punt, giving the Falcons the ball back at the Kings 20-yard line, but Fronimos fumbled again on the next play, though he was able to fall on it.

"He wasn't on his game tonight," Thunder Mountain coach Bill Byouer explained of Fronimos' two fumbles, his first and second of the year.

But on the very next play, Conrad cut left and sprinted toward the corner of the end zone from 21-yards out for a 14-0 Falcons lead, and the rout was on.

Thomas hit Soneson in stride over the middle, and he outraced the defense into the end zone from 37 yards out for a 20-0 Falcons lead at the 5:48-mark of the first quarter.

On the next Kings possession, senior Ben Hotch batted a halfback pass up into the air, where it fell down into the arms of senior Tyrel Kramp to set up the Falcons' next scoring drive, which took all of three plays.

Fronimos ran right, broke several tackles and cut left before taking it into the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown run and a 28-0 Falcons lead with 3:55 to play in the first quarter.

Hotch scored from 60 yards out on the next Thunder Mountain possession with 22 second to play in the first quarter, pushing the Falcons ahead 34-0 and ushering in the Junior Varsity.

"We came out with a goal - state - and we were going to do whatever it takes to get there," Conrad said of the banner year for Thunder Mountain. "We were able to get the JV in there and get them some time because we are taking a few of them to state for the playoffs. But we just came out and did what we needed to do.

"Coach Byouer gave us a good talk before the game, telling us not to come out here and play at their level," he continued. "He told us to play at our level and we came out and showed it."

Thunder Mountain went up 42-0 after a bruising 46-yard touchdown run by sophomore Villi Tupou in the third quarter.

"We threw some passes and ran plays," Byouer said. "This has been a great year for our JV program to build. The only thing that hurts us is we get going, we start moving, and then we have to shut it down."

Ketchikan scored with 9:19 remaining in the third quarter on a 4-yard option pitch by Luke Purschwitz to make it 42-7. Purschwitz tacked on a 70-yard touchdown jaunt down the left sideline with 1:14 remaining to set the final score.

Thomas finished 4-for-5 for 116 yards and two touchdown passes. Byouer said offensive coordinator Jeep Rice wanted to see the Falcons execute through the air some after relying mostly on running the ball this season, especially in recent weeks.

"Jeep wanted to come out and open up our passing game," he said. "We practice it all the time but we just don't use it. Going into the playoffs, we need to have everything dialed in. But he threw two picks on two two-point conversions, which you hate to see."

Thunder Mountain's quest for regular season perfection comes to a head next Friday against St. Bernard's High School at 8 p.m. at TMHS.

How They Scored

First Quarter

TMHS - Stokes 61 pass from Thomas (conversion failed), 11:41

TMHS - Conrad 21 run (McMichael run), 7:49

TMHS - Soneson 37 pass from Thomas (conversion failed), 5:48

TMHS - Fronimos 25 run (Soneson pass from Thomas), 3:55

TMHS - Hotch 60 run (conversion faile), 21.9

Second Quarter

TMHS - Tupou 46 run (Jones run), 1:04

Third Quarter

KHS - Purschwitz 4 run (Jones kick), 9:19

Fourth Quarter

KHS - Purschwitz 70 run (Jones kick), 1:14

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