Crimson Bears rise to prominence

Juneau-Douglas brings home its first state title

Posted: Sunday, November 06, 2005

Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

  Juneau-Douglas quarterback Chris Hinkley is introduced before the start of the regular season game against Palmer in Juneau on Sept. 2.

From the season's first game on Aug. 13 to the triumphant 49-29 victory over Palmer for the school's first state football championship on Oct. 22, the Juneau-Douglas High School team eviscerated opponents.

Juneau-Douglas gave up a minuscule 10.7 points per game to Alaska opponents this season, while the offense set state and school records this season.

A number of individual players stepped up when the Crimson Bears needed them, while the coaching staff seemingly always made the right call or proper adjustment.

The team battled injuries throughout the season but never fretted. Instead, other players filled those shoes and performed admirably.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

  Juneau's Tres Salvidar scrambles for a large gain in the first half against Palmer on Sept. 2.

The following chronicles the Crimson Bears' rise to prominence as they achieved their ultimate goal - a state championship.

Juneau-Douglas 35, Kenai 9

The Crimson Bears started the season in physical fashion by playing the defending small-school champion Kardinals.

This was also the game that probably put the state on notice that Juneau's offense would be strong all season.

Chris Hinkley broke the school's single-game passing yardage record by completing 17 of 26 passes for 287 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Tailback Tres Saldivar also opened the season in resounding fashion, rushing for 130 yards on 13 carries.

Juneau-Douglas' defense completely negated Kenai's rushing and option game, limiting the Kardinals to just three first downs.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

  Juneau's Hunter Wolfe tries to escape the grasp of West Valley's Kevin McCormick during a home game Sept. 23.

With the Bears' up 28-7, the Kardinals forced a turnover and moved the ball inside Juneau's 5-yard line.

On a 4th-and-goal from Juneau's 2, Kohan tackled Kenai wide receiver Bill Chimphalee short of the goal line to preserve the three-score advantage.

"If it was 28-14, it would've been a different ball game," JDHS defensive coordinator Eddie Brakes said. "The kids were pumped and they stepped it up. They were stingy. They wouldn't let them in the end zone."

Juneau-Douglas 50, Lathrop 25

Juneau-Douglas played its first game in the Railbelt Conference by going to the air early and often against visiting Lathrop.

The Crimson Bears scored on their first five possessions to establish dominance early in the game. Wide receiver Ryan Fagerstrom enjoyed one of his best games of the season, catching six passes for 123 yards with four touchdowns. Hinkley, who went 17-for-25 with 226 yards and four scores, did an excellent job of reading the Malemutes' secondary and finding the open man.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

  Juneau-Douglas High School defensive back Ryan Fagerstrom intercepts a pass intended for Palmer's Cole Jacobson during the first half of the game on Sept. 2 in Juneau.

Juneau-Douglas' offensive line also imposed its will on the line of scrimmage, not allowing a sack all day while helping Saldivar rush for his second 100-yard game of the season.

Defensively, the Crimson Bears contained Lathrop quarterback Derrick Stevenson to just 49 yards on 16 carries. Sid Johnson rushed for 164 yards and two TDs on 14 carries, but was limited to just 24 yards on 11 of those carries.

Play of the game: Josh Lehauli's 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

With Juneau-Douglas holding a 33-6 halftime lead, Lathrop received a spark as Johnson busted out for a 25-yard touchdown.

Lehauli quickly snuffed out any hope Lathrop had for a comeback on the ensuing kick by rumbling 90 yards to pay dirt.

Juneau-Douglas 36, North Pole 13

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

  Juneau-Douglas wide receiver Ryan Fagerstrom catches a long pass in front of a Colony defender on Sept. 16 in Juneau.

With revenge on their minds, the Crimson Bears traveled to North Pole to take on the 2004 state champs. The Patriots ended Juneau's season in 2004 in the state semifinals.

North Pole gave Juneau-Douglas arguable its toughest competition until the state final, as the Crimson Bears held a 16-13 halftime lead.

The Crimson Bears turned up the defense after halftime, however, and shutdown the Patriots' vaunted rushing attack.

Saldivar established himself as a physical presence on the ground as he rushed for 210 yards and two TDs on 23 carries. Hinkley completed touchdown passes to Lehauli and Angelo Katasse.

Play of the game: Faifo Levale moved to defensive end.

Up three at the half, Brakes moved Levale from tackle to end. Levale used his speed and power to occupy two blocks and take away any sweeps or pitch plays by the Patriots. Defensive tackle Lane Miller took care of any interior runs.

WEEK 4

  Juneau-Douglas running back Jamaal Bailey is surrounded by West Valley defenders after a big gain on Sept. 23 in Juneau.

Juneau-Douglas 50, Palmer 7

Juneau-Douglas wasted little time vanquishing Palmer.

The Crimson Bears scored on six straight touchdowns in the first half as the defense totally nullified the Moose's spread-option attack.

Saldivar rushed for two touchdowns and took a screen pass for a third as he racked up 174 yards of total offense.

The Moose made a concerted effort to take away Juneau's deep-passing ability, but the Crimson Bears adapted with a smash-mouth running game and short passing routes.

The defense forced four turnovers in the game that resulted in 20 points for the Bears.

Play of the game: Saldivar's TD on the screen.

On a 3rd-and-35 from their own 32-yard line, the Crimson Bears executed a screen pass to perfection. Hinkley fired the flare pass to Saldivar, who followed his blockers nearly untouched for the score. Saldivar's TD gave JDHS a 43-7 halftime lead.

"When the ball came up all I was doing was making one play at a time," Saldivar said. "Once I secured it, I looked for my line to guide me because I can't do it all. You have to use your teammates. That's what makes us a good team; we trust each other."

WEEK 5

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

  Juneau-Douglas wide receiver Ryan Fagerstrom catches a long pass in front of a Colony defender on Sept. 16 in Juneau.

Juneau-Douglas 59, Wasilla 7

The Crimson Bears found themselves behind for the first time all season, but rebounded to seal a playoff berth.

After host Wasilla raced out to an early 7-0 lead, Juneau-Douglas responded by rattling off a ridiculous 59 unanswered points.

Five different Crimson Bears found the end zone as Hinkley averaged more than 20 yards per completion in the rout. Hinkley finished 10-for-18 for 228 yards with three touchdowns.

The big lead allowed a number of different Juneau players to touch the ball, as 12 different Crimson Bears recorded a carry.

Play of the game: Behrends' rumbling touchdown.

The Crimson Bears threw a bone to their big man in the trenches as lineman Justin Behrends took some snaps in the backfield. Behrends rushed for 28 yards on four carries and scored a 4-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

WEEK 6

Juneau-Douglas 40, Colony 7

Juneau-Douglas sealed the Railbelt Conference championship and a top-seed in the state tournament by defeating a physical Colony team.

Hinkley broke his own school record for touchdown passes in a game with five, three of them to Lehauli.

The junior quarterback completed 16-of-22 passes for 256 yards and five TDs

Juneau-Douglas gained 250 more yards than Colony as the Crimson Bears limited the Knights to just 181 yards.

Juneau's defensive secondary - featuring Fagerstorm, Dylan Ashe and Kanaan Bausler - limited Colony to only four complete passes for 36 yards.

Play of the game: Maller set the tone.

Expecting a physical 48 minutes of football, JDHS middle linebacker Brian Maller made an immediate statement on Colony's first play.

Maller forced Colony fullback Chebon Jimenez to fumble on his first carry. Bausler recovered the loose ball and Juneau-Douglas scored a touchdown three plays later.

WEEK 7

Juneau-Douglas 54, West Valley 0

Juneau-Douglas earned its lone shutout victory of the year by overwhelming visiting West Valley.

The Crimson Bears' defense limited the Wolfpack to only 109 yards of total offense and limited West Valley quarterback Duane Aamot to only one complete pass for 27 yards.

JDHS forced six turnovers in the game as Fagerstrom picked off three passes.

Justin "Sunshine" Kennedy scored his first touchdown of the year as Saldivar rushed for 120 yards on six carries, and Hinkley enjoyed an efficient day of passing, completing 11-of-13 passes for 191 yards and four TDs.

The Bears rushed out to a 48-0 lead as most of the starters were pulled late in the second quarter.

Play of the game: Pat Kohan's triumphant return.

JDHS defensive captain Kohan played his first game of the year against West Valley since breaking his left fibula on Aug. 11.

Kohan didn't waste time making his presence felt. On the game's third play, Kohan sacked Aamot, forced a fumble, recovered the loose ball and rumbled 10 yards for a touchdown.

WEEK 8

Pasco, Wash. 48, Juneau-Douglas 7

The lone blemish on Juneau-Douglas' record came on Oct. 1 when the Crimson Bears tangled with the much bigger and stronger Pasco Bulldogs.

Pasco scored six rushing touchdowns as Kaleb Whitby followed his dominant offensive line to 171 rushing yards and four TDs on 22 carries.

The Bulldogs took a 41-0 halftime lead and a 48-0 lead following three quarters.

Hinkley hooked up with Katasse on a 28-yard TD pass for the Bears' lone score.

Saldivar rushed for 114 yards on 18 carries for JDHS, while Juneau limited Pasco's passing game to just 86 yards.

Play of the game: Fagerstrom sticking like glue.

While he didn't have one particular standout play, JDHS cornerback Fagerstrom blanketed Pasco's leading wide receiver, Bryant Whitby, leaving him catchless.

STATE QUARTERFINALS

Juneau-Douglas 39, North Pole 7

Juneau-Douglas quarterback Hinkley enjoyed probably his finest game of the season by torching North Pole for six touchdowns.

Hinkley completed 16-of-26 passes for 224 yards and six scores as the Crimson Bears advanced to the semifinal round. Fagerstrom pulled down five catches for 69 yards and three TDs while Katasse, Lehauli and Maller all had touchdown receptions.

Saldivar averaged nearly 10 yards per carry in the win, finishing with 83 rushing yards on nine carries.

Bausler and Alex Robinson forced turnovers for the Bears while Joe Kohan made two sacks in the win.

Play of the game: Fagerstrom's circus catch.

With the Crimson Bears behind 7-6 late in the first quarter, Hinkley put the Bears ahead with a brilliant pass to Fagerstrom.

The junior wide receiver made a left-handed basket catch on the 11-yard fade route to put the Bears ahead.

"Ryan Fagerstrom had awesome catches," Hinkley said after the game. "It's kind of funny. He makes these highlight-reel catches and it's not even cool anymore because he does it every time."

STATE SEMIFINALS

Juneau-Douglas 21, East Anchorage 3

Juneau-Douglas forced Alaska's second-most-prolific passing attack to just 44 yards as JDHS advanced to the state championship.

East quarterback Chad Nading completed only 5-of-24 passes for 44 yards with three interceptions.

Offensively, JDHS showed off its physicality by embarking on time-consuming drives for scores. Saldivar's 1-yard TD plunge capped off an 11-play, 79-yard drive that chewed up nearly six minutes of clock. The score, along with Ashe's extra point, put JDHS ahead 7-6. Saldivar finished the game with 70 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

Hinkley also broke the state single-season record for touchdown passes when he hit Fagerstrom for a 4-yard score. Hinkley amassed 178 yards on 16-for-28 passing.

Play of the game: Film work paid off.

In preparation for the state semifinals, JDHS defensive coordinator Eddie Brakes noticed that Nading had a tendency to roll out to his right when under duress. Brakes placed defensive end Levale at left defensive end, allowing him to go right into Nading's field of vision.

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP

Juneau-Douglas 49, Palmer 29

Juneau-Douglas achieved its goal on Oct. 22 by capturing the first state football championship in school history.

Saldivar delivered the best performance by a running back in state championship history by rushing for a record-breaking 351 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.

Hinkley threw for three TDs and rushed for three more, as Juneau-Douglas flexed its muscles. Hinkley passed for 129 yards, which let him pass Soldotna's Mark Wackler for first-place on the single-season passing yardage list.

Play of the game: Gutsy kick in the second quarter.

With JDHS holding a seven-point lead in the second quarter, Ashe booted an onside kick. Bausler recovered the play and Juneau-Douglas went on to score another TD.

The kick sparked a 22-point swing and gave Juneau-Douglas enough of a cushion to bring the state championship to Juneau.



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