Though the entire Juneau-Douglas High School football team played solid in a 54-0 rout of West Valley on Friday, the night clearly belonged to one Crimson Bear in particular.
Senior linebacker Pat Kohan made his return to the field Friday and made an immediate impact.
Seeing his first action since a freak practice accident on Aug. 11 left him with a broken left fibula, Kohan returned a fumble 10 yards to the end zone on the third play of the game.
"I thought I was just going to go in for a series, my ankle was going to hurt and I was going to come out and cheer the guys on," Kohan said. "But it didn't hurt at all, and it was great. It was a blast playing with all the boys."
Kohan spearheaded a tremendous defense effort that stymied the Wolfpack's rushing attack.
West Valley didn't muster a first down until there was 1:45 left in the third quarter.
Cornerback Ryan Fagerstrom kept the Wolfpack from moving the ball in the air, making three interceptions in the win.
"They beat us on the line; they just beat us up," Wolfpack coach John Patterson said. "You've got a great team. I don't know what to say."
Juneau-Douglas (7-0, 6-0 Railbelt) played efficiently on offense to put the game away before halftime.
Chris Hinkley completed 11-of-14 passes for 191 yards and four TDs.
Hinkley hit Josh Lehauli for a 3-yard TD pass in the first quarter, then connected with Lehauli, Daryl Lew and Fagerstrom for scores in the second quarter.
Tres Saldivar rushed for 120 yards and a score on just six carries in the win.
Reserve quarterback Joe Kohan completed a 9-yard TD pass to Angelo Katasse to put the Crimson Bears up 48-0 at halftime.
"We got everybody in the second half and more," JDHS head coach Bill Chalmers said. "This is the first time in my memory we put a second unit in prior to halftime. It was a good thing for everybody, I hope."
A mild controversy did arise late in the game as Juneau-Douglas scored an eighth TD with under two minutes remaining in regulation.
Facing a 4th-and-5 from its own 25-yard-line, the JDHS coaching staff called for Lehauli to run a fake punt for a first down. The reasoning behind the gadget play was to allow more reserve seniors to run the ball on Juneau's senior night.
Lehauli shook free, however, and jetted 74 yards to the West Valley 1.
Senior Justin Kennedy punched it in two plays later.
The extra touchdown did not sit well with Patterson and prompted a brief meeting between himself and the Bears' coaches following the game.
"I thought 48-0 was enough," Patterson said. "It's kind of like I felt it was rubbing our noses in it, but we got beat so that's the other perspective. That certainly wasn't their perspective, in fairness to them."
Chalmers said in retrospect he should have told Lehauli to run out of bounds after gaining the first down, but doesn't regret giving Kennedy the ball.
"We weren't trying to rub it in," Chalmers said. "We weren't trying to score until we got down there that close and we had Justin Kennedy, who's been battling severe arthritic pain in his legs and shins and shin splints all fall. ... We wanted to give him this ball and let him carry it. As it turned out he was carrying it toward the end zone, and he went in."
JDHS faces Pasco, Wash., next Saturday.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com
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