Huskies Coach Breaks Down Win over Colony; Dimond Next

    Juneau's Hunter Derr, Lucas White and Sam Sika sack Colony quarterback Harvey Pullen. (Klas Stolpe)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau Huskies coach Rich Sjoroos had a team full of momentum in Saturday’s 53-12 win over Colony at Adair Kennedy Field and is hoping his team stays focused as Dimond visits this Saturday.

      Sjoroos said the first quarter field goal by senior Wallace Adams was key in last Saturday’s game.

      “Even though it was only a field goal, just getting some points early in the game to settle everybody’s nerves was pretty good,” Sjoroos said. “In years past, we might not have the confidence in our kicking game like we do now. In some years, we might have just went for the end zone. But if you are not kicking field goals in that situation, you are not showing confidence in your kicking game. I was just in the mindset that I don’t want to chase points unless I had to. Just getting some points on the board would be better and it worked out.”

      Sjoroos mentioned the second drive was equally important.

      Looking at third and long, senior quarterback Noah Chambers hit classmate James Connally for a 38-yard gain down the sideline.

      “It got everything going,” Sjoroos said. “The crowd revved up… it was like getting the sports car going and we kicked it into gear after that.”

      That momentum rolled into the end of the second quarter.

      Colony had a brief spark before the half, on a run headed into the end zone, but Adams put a crushing hit on the Knights’ ball carrier to stop the gain.

      “Then we hit a couple first downs to keep it out of our end,” Sjoroos said. “We finished that half by taking away their momentum. Dashing their hopes of getting any points on the board was really big.”

      Juneau scored on the first play of the second half and Sjoroos said, “You couldn’t ask for anything better than that to get things rolling again.”

      Surprisingly, Juneau only ran 10 offensive plays in the second half, yet the Huskies scored 21 points in that time.

      “I think pretty much any program would take that,” Sjoroos said. “They did get a couple scores on us, but both times we answered right back. We kept momentum, which is big for high school football.”

      Sjoroos was surprised the Knights went for a fourth and two on their first drive in the first quarter and inside their own 30-yard line.

      “I just know that when you practice during the week, and especially for the first game of the year, you probably don’t spend a lot of time on situational fourth-and-ones inside your own 30 on the first drive of the season,” he said. “You assume you practice a lot and your plays are good. You are running them in practice and they look good and you are going to march down the field and, especially since the team hasn’t seen you, you will have the advantage and element of surprise. I’m sure they felt super confident they were going to convert that.”

      Instead the Huskies got a big junior class sack from Hunter Derr with tackling assists from Lucas White and Sam Sika for perfect field position.

      On Colony’s second drive, the Knights had a botched snap on the punt and hit a short kick for more Juneau field position.

      “Our first two drives were great field position,” Sjoroos said. “So that helped with all the nerves.”

      Sjoroos also noted that Juneau kicking game kept Colony starting on their own 20.

      “Driving 80 yards is a lot tougher than driving 50 yards,” he said.

      SCORE BY QUARTER

      Colony    0  -  0  -   6   -   6   =   12

      Juneau   10  - 15  -  21 -  7    =   53

      HOW THEY SCORED

      1ST QTR

      8:11 - Huskies - Adams 10-yard field goal. 3-0.

      3:22 - Huskies - Soto 2-yard run. Adams PAT. 10-0.

      2ND QTR

      10:27 - Huskies - Soto 4-yard run. Soto 2-pt conversion. 18-0.

      3:34 - Huskies - Soto 40-yard run. Adams PAT. 25-0.

      3RD QTR

      11:41 - Huskies - Johnson 71-yard run. Adams PAT. 32-0.

      7:27 - Huskies - Chambers 61-yard pass to White. Adams PAT. 39-0.

      3:39 - Knights - Pullen 30-yard pass to Nash. PAT no good. 6-39.

      3:11 - Huskies - Chambers 41-yard pass to Connally. Adams PAT. 46-6.

      4TH QTR

      11:54 - Knights - Pullen 20-yard pass to Nash. PAT no good. 12-46

      11:03 - Huskies - Adams 66-yard interception. Adams PAT. 53-12

      HUSKIES STATS

      Passing: Noah Chambers 9-16 for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Payton Grant 0-1.

      Rushing: Jamal Johnson rushed seven times for 103 yards and one touchdown. Gaby Soto 11-85 and three touchdowns. Jarrell Williams 3-25. Chris Harris 2-15. Payton Grant 1-2. Chase Darbonne 1-2. Noah Chambers 3 - minus 20.

      Receiving: James Connally 3 catches for 98 yards and one touchdown. Lucas White 1-61 and one touchdown. Wallace Adams 1-34. Chris Harris 2-29. Jamal Johnson 1-9. Sam Sika 1-2.

      Interceptions: Huskies - Wallace Adams 1, Huskies - Chris Harris 1.

      Turnovers: Colony - 3, Juneau - 0.

      Coach Sjoroos said the team has a goal for each game.

      For every running play they do, a goal of no more than 10% of those plays go for zero or negative yards.

      “I feel if you are constantly going forward, even if they are not big gains, you are leaving yourself in a position to get a first down,” he said.

      Juneau was at 14% against Colony, higher than it wanted but understandable for the first game of the season.

      Colony was at 40%.

      “Forty percent of their running plays went for zero or negative yards,” Sjoroos said. “Even though they were able to get a few big gains here and there on us, we really kept them in check on their third and fourth down conversions.”

      Eighteen of the Colony running plays went for zero or negative yards.

      “That was a stark difference in the game,” he said.

      Big plays are also a goal, such as pass plays over 20 yards and running plays over 10 yards.

      Colony had three pass plays over 20 yards, Juneau had five. Both teams had six run plays over 10 yards.

      “So when you look at the third and fourth and short downs that we stopped them, that was really the difference in the game,” he said.

      The Juneau offensive and defensive lines were overlooked by Colony.

      Thus the Knights attempted to go for it on short fourth downs, such as their opening drive.

      “Who can’t get a yard,” Sjoroos said. “I would have been confident, too, that we could get a yard. That would be my mindset, too. The risk, though, if it doesn’t work out, especially early in the game on the road like that can be…”

      Said Sjoroos, “We missed some stuff, but at the same time we made big plays and we tackled well when we needed to. We were disciplined, focused on the ball and not jumping off sides. Some of the mistakes you can make early in the year, I felt like we controlled a lot of that.”

      Juneau rallied to the football. They kept emotions in check. They understood down and distance.

      “All the things you preach to kids and want to see them do, I felt like they did a lot of that for the first game,” Sjoroos said. “Now the challenge is are they going to be satisfied and are they going to still be hungry… I think I know the answer but at the same time it is something you still have to keep your thumb on because it is easy to get full of yourself. I don’t feel this team is like that. We have lofty goals in mind and we are not going to get there if we are complacent.”

      Juneau will host the Dimond Lynx at 3 p.m. Saturday on Adair Kennedy Field. (JV action at noon).

    Above - Juneau defensive lineman Sam Sika (13) pursues Colony quarterback Harvey Pullen. Below - Juneau's Wallace Adams tackles Colony's Jack Nash as the Huskies defense closes in.

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