Kodiak wins battle of bears

  • By DEREK CLARKSTON
  • Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:06am
  • Sports

Before Friday night’s football game between Kodiak and Juneau-Douglas, Eric Wietfeld predicted that there would be a pick six during the contest.   

Kodiak’s Tyler Wietfeld made his pops look like the world’s greatest soothsayer. 

The younger Wietfeld intercepted a Bubba Stults pass in the second quarter and returned it 21 yards to the end zone. 

The 5-foot-11 senior had no idea about his dad’s prognostication when asked about it after Kodiak’s 28-20 nonconference win at Joe Floyd Track and Field. 

“Let’s not say that in the paper,” joked Tyler Wietfeld. “He won’t shut up about it.” 

Wietfeld and the entire Kodiak secondary was tested against Juneau, a Southeast Conference school that dropped from the large-school to the medium-school conference last season. 

Stults, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, passed for two touchdowns and a career-high 347 yards on 26 of 52 attempts.  

Kodiak’s defense might have bent — Juneau tallied 13 plays of over 10 yards — but it did not break. The Bears forced a fumble on the goal line, picked off Stults four times — twice by Wietfeld and one each by Spencer Hammond and Wesley Walker — and broke up several passes, including three on fourth down in Kodiak territory. The last failed fourth down enabled the Bears to run out the final 2 minutes, 11 seconds of the game and put an end to a three-game losing skid. 

“The secondary did a really nice job. The game plan was spot on,” Kodiak coach Bill McGuire said. “We did give up some big plays, but when it counted they buckled down and got stops.” 

Kodiak evened its season record to 3-3 as it heads into its last Northern Lights Conference matchup of the season this Saturday at Palmer. Both teams are 1-2 in the NLC and have been eliminated from postseason play. Kenai and Soldotna both clinched the conference’s two postseason berths with victories on Saturday. The Kardinals beat Palmer 56-35, while Soldotna downed Eagle River 62-6. 

“This win was critical to get our spirits up, but it is time to go to work for Palmer,” quarterback Andreas Carros said. A week after passing for a career high 340 yards in a 52-48 loss at North Pole, Carros used his legs against Juneau, rushing for a game- and career-best 97 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries. He passed for another 55 yards and a touchdown on 5 of 18 attempts.  

The signal caller’s one-yard scoring plunge 47 seconds into the fourth quarter put Kodiak up 28-12. 

“I’m more of a pocket passer. The inside joke on our team is that I’m slow,” said Carros, who broke free for a run of 46 yards in the third quarter. “I tried to prove them wrong today.” 

It didn’t take long for Juneau (4-2) to pull back to within one score. On the first play of the ensuing position, Stults hit tight end Hunter Hickok on a crossing route for a 79-yard score with 11:06 left. Stults ran in the two-point conversion to cut Kodiak’s lead to 28-20.   

Hickok, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior, was Stults favorite target, hauling in 14 catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns. Donavin McCurley added 101 yards on six receptions. 

Kodiak’s defense came up big on Juneau’s final two possessions getting an interception at midfield and stopping the Crimson Bears on a fourth-and-15 from the Bears’ 34.   

The Bears needed their defense, which gave up 676 yards to North Pole, because the offense sputtered. A week after accumulating 519 yards, the offense only churned out 261 yards — 206 on the ground — and punted eight times. Jay Miranda toted the ball 24 times for 84 yards and a touchdown.  

“We had some problems on offense getting that rhythm going,” McGuire said. “Jay and Carros did a nice job running the football, and we put some points on the board when it counted.” 

After punting on its first four possessions, Kodiak found the end zone on its fifth drive when Carros connected with Isaiah Galindez for a 17-yard scoring reception midway through the second. 

Four minutes later, Wietfeld stepped in front of a pass intended for Hickok and returned it 21 yards for a 14-0 lead. 

“He would run the out route every time and I knew it was coming,” Wietfeld said. “I saw the quarterback look at him and I just jumped the route.”     

The two teams traded touchdowns the rest of the way as first-year coach McGuire picked up his first marquee win against a ranked opponent — Juneau came in ranked fourth in the Alaska Sports Broadcasting Network medium-small school poll. This was Kodiak’s first victory against Juneau. The Crimson Bears won the innagural meeting in 2007.    

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