The Railbelt Conference title and a school-record 8-0 start will mean nothing for the Juneau-Douglas High School football team come Saturday.
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The Crimson Bears (8-0) will host Colony (4-4) at 8 p.m. Saturday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Field in a state quarterfinal playoff game.
These two teams met in Juneau on Sept. 14, and the Crimson Bears toppled the Knights 20-6 for the Railbelt Conference championship.
Admission for Saturday's game will be $10 for adults, $5 for kids. Season passes will not be accepted because this is a game outside of the regular season. Also, free admission will not be granted to kids with a jersey or cheer uniform.
But the Knights beat Lathrop 40-8 in a must-win game last Saturday to reach the playoffs. The win also snapped a four-game losing skid.
Quarterback Collin Murphy has taken the reins in place of the injured Bradley Truax for Colony. Although Murphy struggled in his first significant playing time - he was 2-for-8 for 7 yards in a 14-13 Week 5 loss to Palmer - he's improved steadily throughout the season.
In his last two games, however, he's thrown for 259 yards and four touchdowns.
On the ground, Jaron Murphy has been Colony's workhorse. However, the Bears should keep an extra eye on Geno Paoletti. The burly fullback rushed for 96 yards on five carries when JDHS and Colony last met.
Colony found some success late in that game by switching to a spread formation, splitting Murphy as a wide receiver and allowing Paoletti to be the lone running back. The Bears will have to be aware of the draw play when Colony employs this formation.
Colony's backfield, however, will be facing perhaps Alaska's most dominant run defense. Juneau has allowed just 45.9 rushing yards per game this season, with defensive tackles Faifo Levale, Phil Moser and Chance Galletes harassing opposing backfield's all season long. Also, the Crimson Bears' Donovan Wilson, Zach Heppner and Buzzy Hotch take care of the outside rushing lanes.
Defensively, Colony has struggled to stop the run recently. In its last five games, the Knights have given up 201 yards on the ground per outing. Colony won just one of those five games.
This could mean a big night for sophomore running back Silver Maake. The Bears' leading rusher has run for more than 1,000 yards this season and toted the ball a game-high 31 times in Juneau's previous win over Colony.
Another JDHS running back to watch for is Lincoln Maka. In his last two games, Maka rushed for two TDs and 83 yards on two carries. Both scores came off the same play in the single-wing formation.
A strong running game should open up wide receivers Jesse West and Alex Fagerstrom for big gains. Fagerstrom leads the team in receptions and yards, while West has TD catches in each of the last two games.
When they do get open, senior quarterback Ryan "Bubba" Larson has frequently found his receivers for big gains. While Larson is completing about 41 percent of his passes, he averages more than 20 yards per completion.
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