With their playoff ticket already punched, the Juneau-Douglas High School football team will look to finish the conference-portion of its season strong tonight in Fairbanks.
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The Crimson Bears (5-1, 4-1 Railbelt) visit West Valley (2-4, 1-3) at 6 p.m. today.
The Wolfpack are on the outside looking in for the fourth and final Railbelt Conference playoff spot and should be fired up for tonight's game.
Despite being two-games under .500, coach Jeff Patterson's squad can put points on the board.
West Valley held a 7-0 lead over Palmer last week before falling 48-14. The Wolfpack also led top-ranked South Anchorage 14-7 in the first half before the Wolverines rallied to win 56-26 on Sept. 8
Halfback Dustin Baxter ranks fifth statewide, second among large schools, in rushing with 826 yards and seven touchdowns on 131 carries. Baxter can run both between the tackles and outside and boasts a 6.3 yards per carry average.
In the air, quarterback Duane Aamot is 30-for-70 for 514 yards with five TDs and two interceptions. All five of those TD passes have gone to wide receiver Andy Musgrove, who boasts 22 receptions for 422 yards. Musgrove ranks fourth statewide in receiving yards.
The Wolfpack will be going up against a Juneau-Douglas defense, however, that has allowed opponents next to nothing offensively.
The Crimson Bears enter tonight's contest yielding a scant 9.7 points and 133.3 yards per game.
Defensive linemen Zach Heppner, Tyler Zimmerman, Faifo Levale, Phil Moser and Donovan Wilson have been able to penetrate offensive lines and disrupt opposing offenses throughout the season.
If Juneau's front-five can continue terrorizing backfields, it will allow the linebackers and defensive secondary to sit back and disrupt West Valley's aerial attack.
Offensively, Juneau-Douglas has morphed from a high-powered attack into a disciplined, clock-eating machine.
Last week's return of sophomore tailback Nate Wilson gives JDHS no less than five running backs able to shoulder the load. An efficient running game should take pressure off quarterback Chris Hinkley and allow him to take some shots downfield to Alex Fagerstrom and Daryl Lew.
With the playoffs just two weeks away, one aspect of Juneau's game it must improve upon is protecting the football. JDHS has committed four turnovers in each of its last three games.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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