This article has been updated to include additional information about how Juneau scored.
The Juneau Huskies beat the South Anchorage Wolverines on Saturday at home in one of their most dominant performances of the season with a final score of 52 to 21. Coach Rich Sjoroos said with everyone being aware of the consequences of losing in the postseason, the team was prepared for extra intensity.
“Everybody kind of understands what’s at stake now, somebody’s career is going to end and these seniors don’t want it to be them, so there was a little extra intensity this week getting set up and getting ready,” Sjoroos said.
Despite a score from South Anchorage on the opening kickoff, it was all Huskies for much of the remainder of the game. Senior Payton Grant managed to score for Juneau on the Huskies’ opening drive with 10 minutes remaining in the first quarter. Jarrell Williams tacked on the two-point conversion to give Juneau a lead that would not be relinquished. It would be Grant who scored again in the following Huskies drive after solid defense from seniors Jamal Johnson and Lucas White forced South Anchorage to a fast four downs. Following a successful extra-point attempt the Huskies were up 15-7.
Senior Chris Harris came up big with an interception at the 11-yard line, which was followed by another score by Johnson running it into the end zone with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. The extra point was blocked, leaving the score at 21-7. Johnson would score in the opening drive of the second quarter, followed by a successful extra-point attempt, to bring the score to 28-7 and the Huskies would score again in the opening drive of the third quarter after Williams connected with Grant for a long pass down to the 23-yard line that eventually led to Williams running it in for the touchdown.
The Huskies struggled with securing extra points for much of the game, and with a little over eight minutes remaining in the third quarter, the score was 34-7. After another quick set of downs for South, the Huskies managed to score again on their following drive, this time Williams would connect with sophomore Jayden Johnson for a 40-yard strike with a little over two minutes left in the third quarter, though the extra point was missed and the score was at 40 to 7.
South Anchorage was shutout for their opening drive of the fourth quarter and the Huskies would once again manage to score on their opening drive after a long run from Grant ended at the 21-yard line. Williams connected with junior Thomas Baxter and with being four yards shy of the goal on fourth down, it would be Baxter again to power through to the end zone bringing the score up to 46-7 with a little over 7 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. On the very next drive, the Huskies recovered a fumble on the 26-yard line. This time, junior Anthony Garcia ran it into the end zone, scoring the Huskies final touchdown of the game with four minutes left in the fourth quarter.
South Anchorage would go on to score two touchdowns and pick up a two-point conversion with only two minutes left in the fourth, putting the final score at 52-21. Despite a few issues to clean up throughout the game, Sjoroos said he felt it was a great game and the team had one of their better practices of the season leading into it.
“I thought we had our best week of practice of the year and it kind of reflected itself on the field,” Sjoroos said. “Other than the opening kickoff and just kind of some poor tackling from some of our replacements there at the end, I thought it was just a real clean game and what we’ll do is take that information and do what we can to get better and get ready for East next week because that’s going to be a ballgame.”
Senior Brandon Campbell was back on defense after recovering from an injury that kept him off the field for most of the season. Sjoroos said his return bolstered the Huskies defense.
“He’s been showing up for practice all year long and it’s just awesome to see him out there,” Sjoroos said. “He’s got that great speed and even with just that one good arm he obviously proved he can still do some damage out there and is a big asset for us. So, it’s great having him back and it just adds a little more depth to our D-line and this team as a whole, we’re getting a little healthier, which is a good thing and hopefully we continue that as we continue into next week.
The Huskies 52 points scored is a school record for a playoff game, with 49 points being the former record. Sjoroos said it was technically a Juneau record because neither local high school nor the Juneau Huskies have scored that many points in a playoff game before. Sjoroos also said that Saturday’s game was only the 12th playoff game in the history of Juneau.
“That’s kind of how all the records roll now because it’s called Juneau football because you’ve got different kids from each school,” Sjoroos said. “But it was great to see the kids get a win and I know what’s coming next week. It’s going to be a healthy, hungry East team that wants to get some revenge from a couple weeks ago and we’re just going to have to bring our A game and study hard this week.”
Up next for the Huskies they’ll play Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School at home next Saturday. Because of the long history between the two high schools, Sjoroos said he expects it to be one of the more challenging games ever played at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Field. The game, which is a rematch of last year’s state championship, comes with a state title berth on the line.
“I really believe it will be the most challenging game that’s ever taken place on this field. I think to beat those guys next week with as much as they’ve been surging the last few weeks and the fact that they were able to go to West last night and get that win and as close as they played us when we were on the road up there a couple weeks ago, they’re not going to be in awe of Juneau,” Sjoroos said. “We met in the state finals last year and so there’s some history there, we’ve actually had a lot of playoff history with East going back all the way to the early 2000s, so I’m excited for it. I told these kids enjoy the fact that you’re a special select group that earned the right to play as far as you can on your home field, there is no more after next week, so you’ve gotten all the way to the finish line, kind of like making it to the final day of that ‘Survivor’ TV show, so just enjoy it and give it your all and hopefully we come out on top next Saturday.”
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at email@example.com.