Lathrop’s Griff Roder, center, rips the jersey off Juneau United’s quarterback Max Wheat during their game at Thunder Mountain High School on Saturday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Lathrop’s Griff Roder, center, rips the jersey off Juneau United’s quarterback Max Wheat during their game at Thunder Mountain High School on Saturday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau defense shines late in loss to Lathrop

Unified team scores two second-half touchdowns in under a minute

The Juneau unified football team was on the verge its seventh consecutive scoreless quarter when senior Hansel Hinckle decided to do something about it on Saturday night at Thunder Mountain High School against Lathrop.

Hinckle picked off an errant pass and galloped about 25 yards into the end zone with just 22 seconds left in the third quarter, giving fans something to cheer about in a game that was pretty bleak up until that point. The Malemutes scored two touchdowns in the first 90 seconds of play and forced four turnovers in the first quarter alone, eventually winning 40-13.

“I thought I came too soon under the ball but it just happened to be there,” Hinckle said. “And I was running toward the sideline and decided to cut back, and the hole was there.”

After giving up 40 unanswered points in the first half, Juneau shut out the Malemutes over the final two frames.

“Very impressive with these guys with being resilient and playing hard and through adversity,” Juneau coach Randy Quinto said. “I thought they played well tonight, we just fell behind early.”

“The first half we were making silly mistakes, we just weren’t doing our assignments,” Hinckle added. “Our coach talked to us at half, changed our defense and everybody started to pick up their man and their responsibilities.”

The first mistake came on the very first play of the game. Lathrop senior quarterback Jaden Littell tossed it laterally to senior Michael Zadra, who converted a 71-yard touchdown pass to senior Dana Mowry. It was Zadra’s first career touchdown pass.

“We actually put that (play) in just two or three days before the game even started,” Zadra said. “It was an idea from our coach and he just thought it would work.”

The Malemutes got the ball right back on an onside kick before driving 39 yards for another touchdown, this one by senior Juan Mendez.

The teams traded fumbles before Deondric Henderson picked off Juneau quarterback Cooper Kriegmont and scored a 50-yard touchdown. On just the second play of the ensuring Juneau drive, the Malemutes forced another turnover. Littell went for it on fourth-and-18 from the 23-yard line and found Mendez in the end zone to go up 26-0 after the extra point with 11:17 left in the second quarter.

The score remained 26-0 for much of the rest of the quarter as penalties stifled drives by both teams.

Lathrop’s Bubba Maschmeier and Zadra added touchdowns though in the closing two minutes of half to give the Malemutes the 40-0 lead.

Juneau quarterback Max Wheat and running back Caleb Traxler rushed the ball in the second half and picked up several nice gains.

Just a minute after Hinckle’s interception, Kriegmont picked off backup quarterback Jace Henry and ran it in for a second touchdown.

Traxler said he can sense the team is starting to come together.

“That first quarter was pretty rough but that second half we came out and we dominated,” Traxler said. “So I feel pretty good about the second half and feel if we can just pull our stuff together at the beginning and come out strong we’ll do a lot better than we did tonight.”

Juneau (0-4) will play on the road next weekend against Wasilla (1-4), who lost on Friday to Chugiak 17-14, and Lathrop (3-1) takes on Kodiak (1-2).

The Juneau United junior varsity team defeated Lathrop in an earlier contest at TMHS. Freshman running back Gaby Soto scored a touchdown with just seconds left on the clock to lift his team to a 25-22 victory.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.


Juneau United’s Ethan Jaenicke, right, offers some encouragement to quarterback Max Wheat during their game against Lathrop at Thunder Mountain High School on Saturday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau United’s Ethan Jaenicke, right, offers some encouragement to quarterback Max Wheat during their game against Lathrop at Thunder Mountain High School on Saturday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau United’s Cristian Batac, right, is chased by Lathrop’s Bubba Maschmeier at Thunder Mountain High School on Saturday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau United’s Cristian Batac, right, is chased by Lathrop’s Bubba Maschmeier at Thunder Mountain High School on Saturday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau United’s Hansel Hinckle is kept from completing a reception on the goal line by Lathrop’s Michael Zadra, left, and Bubba Maschmeier at Thunder Mountain High School on Saturday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau United’s Hansel Hinckle is kept from completing a reception on the goal line by Lathrop’s Michael Zadra, left, and Bubba Maschmeier at Thunder Mountain High School on Saturday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

More in Home

Juneau School District administrators and board members review the updated budget for the current fiscal year during a Board of Education meeting Tuesday night at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
The Juneau School District had a $9.5M projected deficit this year. It’s now a $633,185 surplus. How is that possible?

Resignation of 34 employees since January, health insurance savings among reasons, officials say.

Rep. Sara Hannan (right) offers an overview of this year’s legislative session to date as Rep. Andi Story and Sen. Jesse Kiehl listen during a town hall by Juneau’s delegation on Thursday evening at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Multitude of education issues, budget, PFD among top areas of focus at legislative town hall

Juneau’s three Democratic lawmakers reassert support of more school funding, ensuring LGBTQ+ rights.

Allison Gornik plays the lead role of Alice during a rehearsal Saturday of Juneau Dance Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland,” which will be staged at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé for three days starting Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
An ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that requires quick thinking on and off your feet

Ballet that Juneau Dance Theatre calls its most elaborate production ever opens Friday at JDHS.

Danielle Brubaker shops for homeschool materials at the IDEA Homeschool Curriculum Fair in Anchorage on Thursday. A court ruling struck down the part of Alaska law that allows correspondence school families to receive money for such purchases. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Lawmakers to wait on Alaska Supreme Court as families reel in wake of correspondence ruling

Cash allotments are ‘make or break’ for some families, others plan to limit spending.

A waterfront view of Marine Parking Garage with the windows of the Juneau Public Library visible on the top floor. “Welcome” signs in several languages greet ships on the dock pilings below. (Laurie Craig / For the Juneau Empire)
The story of the Marine Parking Garage: Saved by the library

After surviving lawsuit by Gold Rush-era persona, building is a modern landmark of art and function.

Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, mayor of the Inupiaq village of Nuiqsut, at the area where a road to the Willow project will be built in the North Slope of Alaska, March 23, 2023. The Interior Department said it will not permit construction of a 211-mile road through the park, which a mining company wanted for access to copper deposits. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
Biden shields millions of acres of Alaskan wilderness from drilling and mining

The Biden administration expanded federal protections across millions of acres of Alaskan… Continue reading

Caribou cross through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in their 2012 spring migration. A 211-mile industrial road that the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority wants to build would pass through Gates of the Arctic and other areas used by the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, one of the largest in North America. Supporters, including many Alaska political leaders, say the road would provide important economic benefits. Opponents say it would have unacceptable effects on the caribou. (Photo by Zak Richter/National Park Service)
Alaska’s U.S. senators say pending decisions on Ambler road and NPR-A are illegal

Expected decisions by Biden administration oppose mining road, support more North Slope protections.

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 13. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House members propose constitutional amendment to allow public money for private schools

After a court ruling that overturned a key part of Alaska’s education… Continue reading

Most Read