In unveiling their new offense Saturday night at Adair-Kennedy Field, Thunder Mountain High School seniors Cale Jenkins and Riley Olsen proved that Falcons are meant to fly.
Starting quarterback Jenkins connected with receiver Olsen for 51- and 62-yard touchdown passes in a 50-20 win over Juneau-Douglas High School, putting the shine on a new-look offense that has the Falcons balancing their power-run game with an explosive aerial attack.
Jenkins, who anchored a run-first offense last year, couldn’t be happier to graduate from game-manager to gunslinger.
“It was nice to be able to change from the power run last year and convert so much with the pass this year,” he said. “It felt good.”
The Falcons controlled the game by halftime with a 21-0 start and went up 29 before the Crimson Bears were able to get on the board in the third quarter.
Falcons head coach Randy Quinto was relieved after the game that his seniors were able to succeed with the new offense.
“We were worried about the offense, a brand-new offense. Bringing that out and unveiling that, it turned out good,” said Quinto.
Both of Olsen’s touchdowns came from slant passes over the middle he caught in stride. Jenkins led Olsen perfectly for the Falcons’ first touchdown, a 62-yarder with 8:31 left in the first quarter. His second came with 6 minutes to go in the second on a nearly identical 51-yard slant where Olsen burned the Crimson Bears defensive backs for a 21-0 lead.
The Crimson Bears’ offensive rhythm suffered under a lack of blocking. JDHS found spurts of success offensively, but junior quarterback Bubba Stults was never allowed time in the pocket.
“They (the offensive line) had a hard time sustaining the blocks,” said JDHS head coach Kevin Hamrick. “They made some good blocks, and had some good plays but it wasn’t consistent.”
Stults laid down a few nice completions when given time, including a 20-yard, second-quarter teardrop that brought the Crimson Bears into Falcon territory. The drive stalled at the 35, however, as the Falcon’s talented linebackers and surging defensive line never allowed the Crimson Bears to put a drive together.
With only 18 players in pads for the season opener, some of JDHS’ struggles came from not being able to run full scrimmages in practice. Hamrick said his offensive line needs more time to “go live” before they’re going to be comfortable on game day.
“We had a couple guys cramping up, a couple guys dinged up and you could tell we weren’t very deep. I was looking around for a replacement and I couldn’t find one,” Hamrick said.
Stults, who looked banged up on a play in the third quarter, even had to take the field as a linebacker toward the end of the game.
The Crimson Bears got on the scoreboard with 5:14 left in the third off a 21-yard pass to junior Liam Van Sickle. Stults connected with Van Sickle again in the fourth, splitting coverage on a 6-yard bullet to bring the game to 43-13.
JDHS running back and linebacker Lance Galletes-Fiagatuso — who was all over the field on Saturday making sacks and taking direct snaps at fullback — scored the Crimson Bears’ final touchdown with just seconds left in the game, a 45-yard run that proved him the heart of JDHS’ understaffed squad.
“We have to have more heart, we can’t make any excuses,” Galletes-Fiagatuso said. “That team’s not 30 points better than us. We can do better.”