With their playoff destiny in their hands, the Juneau Huskies did everything they could to ensure Saturday night wasn’t their last home game of the season.
The result was a 67-24 drubbing of the visiting Bartlett High School Golden Bears. The lopsided win secured the Huskies the top seed in their conference and means the Huskies (5-3, 3-1 Chugach) will host South Anchorage High School Saturday, Oct. 12 at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Stadium.
“They’re a very strong team,” said Juneau football coach Rich Sjoroos. “They’ll come to Juneau and not be fazed by anything, so hopefully we can get all of Juneau out here. It will be the first home football game since 2011, it’s been eight years. Hopefully, everyone’s excited to have some playoff football here in Juneau, and we get a big crowd out here to make it rowdy and make it hard on them.”
A cold rainy night coupled with a game that was well in hand at the half meant there wasn’t much of a crowd by the end of Saturday’s 43-point win, but the same conditions that made things unpleasant for spectators helped the Huskies out.
Over the course of the game, the Golden Bears coughed up the rain-slicked football six times — botched hand offs, flubbed kick returns and forced fumbles all contributed to the total.
At one point, four-straight Bartlett possessions ended with fumbles in their territory.
“My plan was to just to try to keep pace with them, but we really benefited from some turnovers and great field position in the second quarter,” Sjoroos said.
Instead, the Juneau offense led by quarterback Cooper Kriegmont, who was filling in for the injured Noah Chambers, turned those miscues into points.
“The fact we were able to capitalize on those is big,” Sjoroos said.
Several drives were also extended by Bartlett penalties, too.
At the end of the first quarter, the Huskies enjoyed a 20-8 advantage but had a commanding 46-8 lead at the half.
Kriegmont was a major part of that.
He rushed for five touchdowns during the game and threw for another score to running back Ali Beya.
“I challenge guys a lot, and I was challenging him on a lot of things, and he stepped up to every curveball that was thrown at him, and he managed a great football game,” Sjoroos said.
Any time Juneau needed a first down it seemed like Kriegmont was able to find a seam and pick up the yardage required with a combination of patience and power that Bartlett was unable to stifle.
Sjoroos said offensive linemen including Ethan Jaenicke, Marcos Yadao, Jake Ferster, Sione Veikoso and Landon Guthrie did a good job giving runners room to work.
“There’s a whole group of guys who were doing a great job up there,” Sjoroos said. “If our running back is getting five yards before he’s getting touched, that’s a good thing up front.”
Gaby Soto added three scores of his own, including a nice up-the-gut sprint that gave the Huskies their first points of the night. Jamal Johnson, who spelled Kriegmont at quarterback once the game was put away, also scored on a long run late in the game.
Should the Huskies ride the momentum of their big win into a win next week, it’s possible Juneau could host a second playoff game, but Sjoroos didn’t want to look too far forward.
“That is a carrot that hangs out there, and that’s never been done before in Juneau so getting that first one’s the priority, and we’ll see where that takes us,” Sjoroos said.