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Showdown Saturday looms for JDHS

Wolverines and Crimson Bears square off in state semifinal rematch

Posted: Friday, October 12, 2007

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In nine straight victories, the Juneau-Douglas High School football team has allowed just 6.4 points per game, 40.1 rushing yards per game and only one rushing touchdown all season long.

However, the Crimson Bears (9-0) will face their most daunting test at noon Saturday when they take on defending state champions South Anchorage (7-2) at Anchorage Football Stadium in the state semifinal round.

"We've been through this process every single week - watching plays, watching film," JDHS defensive tackle Faifo Levale said. "The real test comes game day. Defensively, we'll be there and be ready, but we won't know until game time."

Juneau-Douglas (9-0) will face one of the state's hottest teams in South.

After sputtering to a 1-2 start, the Wolverines rallied to win six straight games in convincing fashion.

Offensively, South Anchorage runs an exacting and impressive rushing system. A host of different Wolverines will carry the ball, not allowing opposing defenses to focus on just one player.

Isaac Taylor, Sam Sua, Travis Bond, Spencer Saena and Spencer Augustin all produce in South's diverse attack that's averaged more than 240 yards on the ground per game.

As a team, South averages 31.1 points per game.

"It's getting the ball to people," South coach John Lewis said. "Each kid has their own style and you allow them to use their style of play. From the kid who likes to run into people and the kid that runs outside - that's been very helpful for us."

Augustin, a standout soccer player for the Wolverines, serves as the team's big-play threat. He's rushed for 10 touchdowns and averages more than 13 yards per carry.

One missed tackle or blown assignment when Augustin has the ball normally means six points for Anchorage's south-siders.

"He's go, go, go," Lewis said of Augustin. "We have three, four soccer players on the team and they're all the same. They're physical and little, but they'll give you all they got. That's all we care about. Augustin is the Energizer bunny."

South's rushing attack starts with a very active offensive line. The Wolverines' big men up front are athletic enough to pull, trap and block defenders from a variety of angles.

Couple that with a sharply executed misdirection attack, the Crimson Bears' defenders must stay alert or get burned.

"They have a fast backfield and do a lot of diversions and play-fakes," JDHS defensive end Zach Heppner said. He added JDHS needs to locate the ball, play the area and not be greedy against the Wolverines.

South's rushing attack will be facing a JDHS defensive front that has been dominant thus far.

The Crimson Bears haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher this season, putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks to make plays. Last week JDHS held visiting Colony to just 20 yards of total offense in a 33-0 quarterfinal win.

"We've got four out of our five starters on the line that are returners," Heppner said. "We've had this defense for a while so we know all the rules and stuff."

Despite season-ending injuries to starting linebacker Tuavao Maake, defensive end Dominic Smith and lineman Jake "Texas" Nelson, the JDHS front hasn't let up in the least.

The team knows, however, that it must bring the right attitude to the game or else be eliminated by South Anchorage in the semifinal round for a second-straight year.

"It's a big deal being mentally prepared," Heppner said. "If not, then you think they're nothing and you don't have to do your job. Then you just get worked."

Defensively, South Anchorage boasts an aggressive attack that has limited opponents to 10 points per game. Senior inside linebacker Devan Andersen, the 2007 Cook Inlet Conference defensive player of the year and a 2006 first-team all-state selection, is a big hitter with solid speed.

In addition to Andersen, defensive back Augustin and defensive end Sterling Lopez are both CIC first-team selections.

They'll be trying to stop a physical JDHS offense. Sophomore Silver Maake has rushed for 1,164 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, while quarterback Ryan "Bubba" Larson is averaging 17.5 yards per pass.

"Those kids have no fear of getting inside the middle," Lewis said of Juneau's running game. "They're very impressive."

• Contact sports editor Tim Nichols at 523-2228 or sports@juneauempire.com.



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