The Juneau Huskies are leaders of the Cook Inlet Conference pack heading into an atypical Week 5 match-up. Juneau now sits 4-0 after their 42-13 victory against Colony High School, a game coach Rich Sjoroos said was especially important to come out on top of.
“The game against Colony was a big one just in the whole standing situation because both us and Colony going in were 3-0 going in conference, so getting that fourth win and putting us in top standing right now, it’s definitely a big boost going forward,” Sjoroos said.
Next up for the Huskies, they’ll host the West Valley High School Rams of Washington State at home Friday night for the first night game Juneau’s seen in three years. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Sjoroos said that even though Washington is a 4A school with what they’re touting as one of the top three quarterbacks in the state, the Huskies plan to approach the game with the same mindset and execution they’ve carried all season long.
“We’ve watched some film on (Washington’s quarterback), definitely a very skilled player, quick release, very accurate, as well, hard to rattle him it looks like, so we’re going to have to try and get pressure and do good coverage and tackle well and things that we’ve done to this point, we’re just going to have to do them at a higher level to try and get their team off the field and give our offense a chance to put some points on board,” Sjoroos said. “I was joking, I’ve been checking the weather forecast every hour, you know, a little rain wouldn’t hurt either, so we’ll see what that brings for Friday night.”
Jarrell Williams and Jamal Johnson continue to be dominant leaders for the Huskies’ offense; last game Williams had 94 yards with 18 carries and two touchdowns, and Johnson had an outstanding game with 25 carries for an impressive 337 yards and 3 touchdowns. Sjoroos said that while both Williams and Johnson continue to put up big plays, he still intends to move players around as a way of continuing to develop depth as they move into the second half of the season.
“We’re definitely starting to see who some of the leaders are as far as numbers and carries and touches and things like that. Jamal Johnson and Jarrell Williams definitely have been leading the way on offense, so we want to continue to find ways to keep the ball into their hands but at the same time just pick and choose spots to get other guys involved; last week MJ Topou had his first big catch of the year with a 66-yard reception, and we’re starting to see other guys in practice that are making plays, so I think as we get into this game and hopefully all of the other conference games that remain, we’ll start to see some other guys make some plays, as well,” Sjoroos said.
Being 4-0 midway through the season can add pressure on any team in that position, but Sjoroos said for the Huskies, they deal with it by simply not talking about it. According to Sjoroos, it’s all about staying focused on putting the team in the best seat going forward into the playoffs.
“Our whole goal from the beginning is still the same even in week 5, just keep trying to find ways to get better, develop depth from within the team and just find out what our weaknesses are so we can fix them going into the playoffs,” Sjoroos said. “I know scheduling these tough games against out-of-state teams kind of helps with that, if there’s something we’re not good at, they’re going to try and expose that and we’ll try to take any weaknesses we have and turn them into strengths as we get into the second half of the season.”
Another aspect of Juneau football that remains consistent going into week 5 is the high-caliber of play of the Huskies defense, which Sjoroos said continues to be the team’s driving force, especially in their last game against Colony that saw Huskies down 13-0 early on in the start.
“Colony has been pretty explosive with one of the better players in the state, No. 21, and I think (our defense) did a good job of keeping him in check and not letting him make too many big plays,” Sjoroos said. “Our team as a whole, in weathering the storm of being down early in the game, to be able to bounce back on the road like that and just kind of tune out the crowd noise and scoreboard and just play football, it’s really a testament to their resiliency.”
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know & Go
What: Juneau Huskies vs. West Valley Rams
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9.