Payton Grant, left, plays football against East Anchorage High School on Sept. 4, 2021. Grant scored in last week’s away game against Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Payton Grant, left, plays football against East Anchorage High School on Sept. 4, 2021. Grant scored in last week’s away game against Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

7 points: Juneau football brings the heat to Service in away game

It’s Juneau’s first road win for the season.

The Huskies brought the ruckus against Service High School during an away game on Saturday, defeating the Anchorage team 49-12.

Solid defense, including some interceptions returned touchdowns, had the Juneau high school team moving fast out of the gate, said coach Rich Sjoroos in an interview.

“I think people are just excited to have football back in Alaska,” Sjoroos said. “We’re excited just to be playing.”

The win marks Juneau’s first road win this season so far. It improves the Huskies’ record to 4-1 both overall and in the Cook Inlet Conference.

A stalwart defense

“Defense did great,” Sjoroos said. “We had four interceptions and ran a few back for touchdowns.”

Wallace Adams, senior, was a huge presence for the defense, Sjoroos said.

“Any time you’re scoring on defense, that means you’re having a good day,” Sjoroos said. “We were able to get some points on the board defensively.”

Payton Grant, left, plays football against East Anchorage High School on Sept. 4, 2021. Grant scored in last week’s away game against Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Payton Grant, left, plays football against East Anchorage High School on Sept. 4, 2021. Grant scored in last week’s away game against Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Teamwide progress

The team is getting where it needs to be as the season progresses, Sjoroos said.

“We need to know where we stand, what we need to work on, what we need to get better at,” Sjoroos said. “I was pleased with the trip and how the kids prepared for it.”

Changing up some of the roles players are filling is proving fruitful, Sjoroos said.

“We’re getting some new guys in the mix that maybe weren’t with us the whole offseason,” Sjoroos said. “Chemistry is a big thing for me with football. It requires all 11 guys to be synching.”

Becoming well-traveled

As the Huskies play more away games in Anchorage, they’re becoming better at dealing with the difficulties built in by the distance, Sjoroos said.

“It was kind of an obstacle they needed to overcome. Even as coaches we did,” Sjoroos said. “It’s an obstacle you have to overcome.”

[7 points: Huskies outlast East Anchorage]

Individual performance

Several players scored their first touchdowns of the season, Sjoroos said, including Payton Grant, Matt Hartsock and Kadin Messmer. Messmer, a senior, scored his first lifetime touchdown, Sjoroos said, which fired the team up. Other players also had a standout game.

“Noah Chambers had a solid game offensively,” Sjoroos said of the team’s senior quarterback.

Noah Chambers throws the ball during a game against East Anchorage High School on Sept. 4, 2021. Chambers turned in another solid performance last week as the Huskies beat Service High School in an away game. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Noah Chambers throws the ball during a game against East Anchorage High School on Sept. 4, 2021. Chambers turned in another solid performance last week as the Huskies beat Service High School in an away game. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Winter is coming

As fall storms wrack Juneau, the weather here and away is going to turn for the worse.

That’ll have implications for the players, Sjoroos said, as the temperature in Anchorage begins dropping.

“It’s definitely gonna start cooling down in the next couple of weeks,” Sjoroos said. “You gotta remind everyone to dress appropriately. You don’t want to put yourself in a spot where the weather’s getting the best of you.”

Hustlin’ Huskies

The team was able to keep up the energy through all four quarters against Service, Sjoroos said.

“Defensively ,they had a good game plan and they went with that game plan. Kids seemed composed throughout the entire game,” Sjoroos said. “We’ve had games where we bleed out our energy real fast and we still had some in the tank at the end.”

Kadin Messmer, right, runs the ball during a football game against Dimond High School on Aug. 21, 2021. Messmer scored a touchdown during last week’s away game against Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Kadin Messmer, right, runs the ball during a football game against Dimond High School on Aug. 21, 2021. Messmer scored a touchdown during last week’s away game against Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Coming days

The Huskies will square up against Bartlett High School in their next away match on Sept. 18.

“Bartlett is probably the hottest team in the state right now, winning three in a row. They knocked off South (Anchorage High School) last week,” Sjoroos said. “It’s fun to be playing these bigger schools. It raises the level of competition.”

After that, Juneau welcomes South Anchorage High School to Juneau on Sept. 25 for the Huskies’ senior night.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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