There were plenty of interesting statistics and numbers from Juneau-Douglas' 21-3 state semifinal victory over East Anchorage on Saturday.
The one number that may stand out in many of the coaches and players minds, however, is 44. That's how many yards the Crimson Bears' defense limited Thunderbirds quarterback Chad Nading to in the semifinal.
"On most plays the defensive line put on tremendous pressure," JDHS defensive coordinator Eddie Brakes said. "They were in Nading's face. There were a few plays where they weren't and the defensive backs had great coverage. The entire defense worked together. ... Each player has a role and they take pride in their role."
While studying East's games in preparation for Saturday, Brakes noticed Nading had a tendency to roll out to his right when he faced defensive pressure.
On Saturday, Brakes posted sophomore defensive end Faifo Levale on Nading's right side, putting a tall presence directly into Nading's field of vision.
The remainder of the defensive line did their best to force Nading into an uncomfortable situation.
"There were guys in his face and (Nading) just went deeper to his right and that's beautiful," Brakes said. "It was right to our big boy, Faifo. Faifo was in his face all day long.
"The nice part on the defensive line was Pat Kohan, Lane Miller, Justin Behrends and Will Tonsgard were rotating in and one guy was out. They were just fresh and would flush him to Faifo. The defensive line did great."
Brakes said Kohan called about half of the defensive plays for the Crimson Bears, giving JDHS a coach on the field.
When Nading did have enough time to stand in the pocket, defensive backs Ryan Fagerstrom, Dylan Ashe and Kanaan Bausler helped shut down East's explosive wide receivers.
JDHS limited All-Cook Inlet Conference selections Tate Knutson and Cory Macon to two combined catches for -3 yards.
Juneau's special teams also played what might have been their best game of the season. With the exception of the first punt, which led to East's field goal, the Bears kept East pinned in its own territory for most of the game.
"There was excellent punting by Lehauli and excellent kicking by Ashe," Brakes said. "These are the things you love as a defensive coordinator."
Offensively, JDHS also used a physical approach to dictate the pace of Saturday's game.
JDHS line coach Romney Tupou had his offensive line well-prepared for East's big defensive front. The line's physical play helped Tres Saldivar rush for 70 yards on 20 carries.
"I thought that the running game was going to be used to keep guys near the line of scrimmage so we could have shots down the field," JDHS offensive coordinator said Rich Sjoroos said. "Tres had some tough runs and that's big. That's how it is with East, they are tough up front."
JDHS also found way to control the clock. Down 3-0, Saldivar's 1-yard run capped an 11-play, 79-yard drive that chewed up nearly six minutes.
"We went on that 80-yard drive and that was a real boost for us," Sjoroos said. "Over the last few years we haven't been able to drive the ball on them."
Bear claws: JDHS quarterback Chris Hinkley set a new state record for touchdown passes in a season with 34 when he hit Ryan Fagerstrom for a 4-yard score on Saturday. Juneau takes on Railbelt Conference rival Palmer in the state title game at 1 p.m. Saturday. This marks the first time two schools outside of Anchorage have played for the state title in 13 years.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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