Gaby Soto crosses the goalline to put six points on the board for the Huskies in Juneau's first high school football game in nearly two years. Soto scored three touchdowns for the Huskies in the first half. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

7 points: Juneau wins big in season opener

Seven takeaways from the first game in two years

Juneau football is back.

If the Huskies felt rusty coming off 674 days without a game before Saturday’s season opener against Colony High School, it didn’t show on the field. The Huskies clinched a 53-12 victory over the Knights, with several players contributing big plays to the win.

Noah Chambers throws the ball downfield Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021.

Noah Chambers throws the ball downfield Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021.

“It was great. It certainly checked all the boxes, especially for week one,” said coach Rich Sjoroos on Monday morning. “Until you get on the field and see it, you don’t know what you’ll have for sure.”

The win prompted the Alaska Sports Broadcasting Network to put the Huskies in the No. 2 spot after the first week of conference play.

Full-time, in-person learning returns for Juneau’s students

Here are seven takeaways from the game and a peek into the week ahead.

— Momentum made a difference Saturday, Sjoroos said.

The Huskies opened the scoring with a 26-yard field goal a little more than three minutes into the first quarter and never looked back.

According to Sjoroos, the game’s top defensive play came when senior Wallace Adams shook the ball loose from Colony inside Juneau’s 10-yard line shortly before the end of the half— sending Juneau into halftime with the wind in their sails. In addition, Adams put several kicks into the end zone for the Huskies.

Juneau benefited from exceptional line play on both sides of the ball, Sjoroos said.

The Huskies dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage, shutting down Colony’s inside running game and gashing the Knights for big plays when on offense.

“Momentum swings can really be magnified in high school football,” he said.

— Sjoroos said the win was a team effort with key contributions from several players. Senior James Connally had a big catch down the sideline for a 38-yard gain and scored his first high school touchdown.

“That woke everyone up,” Sjoroos said.

Huskies football returns-after nearly 700 days between games

—Running backs Gaby Soto, a senior, and junior Jamal Johnson read blocks well, and the defense achieved the goal of “swarming.” Sjoroos said that it was tough to tell who made a tackle when watching game films because so many Huskies contributed to each one.

“It’s something we’ve been preaching and the kids are embracing,” he said.

photos by Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire 
Wallace Adams makes his way up field after catching a pass Saturday. In addition to his work as a receiver, Adams opened scoring for Juneau with a field goal and forced a key fumble. Right, Noah Chambers throws the ball downfield

photos by Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire Wallace Adams makes his way up field after catching a pass Saturday. In addition to his work as a receiver, Adams opened scoring for Juneau with a field goal and forced a key fumble. Right, Noah Chambers throws the ball downfield

— Quarterback Noah Chambers, a senior, completed nine of 16 passes for 232 yards, an effort Sjoroos called “the best game of his high school career.”

—Saturday’s crowd brought life to the field. “The crowd was energetic. The cheer squad was great, making noise at all the right times. It felt like old Juneau football,” Sjoroos said.

— In the week ahead, Sjoroos said the team will focus on getting ready for Dimond, who comes to town Saturday.

“You always find things to improve,” he said. “We can’t be satisfied. The team will make the biggest change from week one to week two for better or worse.”

Hunter Derr sacks the Colony High School quarterback to force a turnover on downs early in Saturday’s home-opener. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Hunter Derr sacks the Colony High School quarterback to force a turnover on downs early in Saturday’s home-opener. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

— The roster will grow for this week’s game, as nine additional players cross the threshold of having enough practices to suit up for the game.

“We are focused on getting chemistry right with the guys who have not been in the line up yet,” Sjoroos said. “We are tweaking things and looking at a list of things to improve.”

• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@jueauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

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