The Cook Inlet Conference's first live glimpse of the Service High football team offered an eye-opening show.
Based on Saturday night's 42-7 manhandling of south-side rival Dimond, an optimistic take on the Cougars is they will present the rest of the league with a considerable, um, challenge.
The more pessimistic outlook: The Cougars look like a nightmare.
Service, which opened its season in Hawaii more than a week ago with a tie seized from the grasp of victory, didn't waver at Anchorage Football Stadium, stamping ownership of the line of scrimmage and dominating both sides of the football.
The numbers were numbing. The Cougars, behind the guidance of do-everything quarterback Amu Aukusitino, rolled up 461 yards of total offense. Service's defense throttled the Lynx, allowing a mere 150 yards total offense, and even that was severely misleading.
"We showed a lot,'' said Cougars wideout Alan Busey after he gathered 10 receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns. "We can play ball. We just want to perform and get it done.''
No one got more done than Aukusitino, the junior with a strong arm, explosive running ability and the fitness to play on both sides of the ball -- he's basically a Swiss Army knife in turf shoes.
He completed 18 of 34 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns, plus he added a two-point conversion pass to Busey and threw just one interception. Aukusitino also ran for 94 yards on seven carries, returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown and returned a punt 87 yards to set up Christopher Toomer's 1-yard touchdown late. Aukusitino accounted for 448 all-purpose yards.
"He can play any position,'' Busey said. "He's a utility player.''
After tying Leilehua High, 34-34, in Hawaii, nine days previous, the Cougars on Saturday provided ample evidence they are as big a threat as anyone to win the conference.
"If (Aukusitino) stays healthy, they're going to be tough to beat,'' said Dimond coach Chris Borst.
The Cougars (1-0-1 overall, 1-0 CIC), ranked No. 2 in the Alaska Sports Broadcasting Network poll, were no slouch on defense, either.
Consider: Of Dimond's 150 yards total offense, 115 came on two plays, both of them qualifying as either strange or flukes.
Ryan Brady caught a 35-yard pass in the first half on a long pass that was deflected into the air by another Dimond receiver. And Nathan Stephens picked up a Ryden Hines pass -- well, the throw was actually a lateral everyone else gave up on, but that Stephens feasted on in a show of awareness-- and ran 80 yards for a third-quarter touchdown.
Otherwise, No. 5-ranked Dimond (1-1, 0-1 CIC) gained just 35 yards on its other 48 offensive plays. And 16 of Dimond's 50 total offensive plays -- an astounding 32 percent -- went for negative yardage. Service sacked Hines six times and hit him countless times. No one can question Hines' toughness, just as no one could question Service's defense on Saturday.
"Our job is to take our opponent, whatever they're best at, and stop it and make them do something different,'' said Service linebacker Daniel Murakami, who was in on at least four sacks. "They're a running team, and we didn't let them run.''
Two series early in the second half demonstrated just how explosive Service can be.
On Dimond's first possession of the half, Murakami dropped running back Reeve Smith for a 5-yard loss on first down, the Cougars gang-sacked Hines for a 2-yard loss on second down and ganged up on Hines for a 7-yard loss on third down.
When the Cougars gained the ball on Hines' subsequent punt, they kept their drive alive when Christopher Toomer connected with Jasper Headstrom on a fake punt-turned-pass for 15 yards and a first down, and Aukusitino two plays later hit Busey for a 22-yard touchdown pass.
In the space of those four minutes, the Cougars proved themselves a team that can play ball.
Dimond 0 0 7 0 -- 7
Service 0 14 14 14 -- 42
Service -- Ilalio 4 run (Busey pass from Aukusitino), 9:03.
Service -- Ilalio 1 run (kick failed), 1:37.
Service -- Busey 22 pass from Aukusitino (Raguindin kick), 7:00.
Service -- Aukusitino 25 interception return (Raguindin kick), 5:05.
Dimond -- Stephens 80 run ( Corral kick), 2:46.
Service -- Busey 41 pass from Aukusitino (Raguindin kick), 9:55.
Service -- Toomer 1 run (Raguindin kick), 2:45.
First downs 7 21
Rushes-yards 38-104 24-147
Passing yards 46 314
Return yards 125 157
Passes 3-12-2 21-39-1
Punts 6-37.7 1-45.0
Fumbles-lost 3-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 9-73 12-114
RUSHING -- Dimond: Stephens 9-97, Chong 5-15, Lomu 3-5, Griffith 1-2, Smith 1-(-5), Hines 10-(-5), Team 1-(-9). Service: Aukusitino 7-94, Ilalio 11-29, Raguindin 6-24.
PASSING -- Dimond: Hines 3-12-2--46. Service: Aukusitino 18-34-1--242, Toomer 3-5-0--72.
RECEIVING -- Dimond: Brady 1-35, Smith 1-7, Chong 1-4. Service: Busey 10-177, Murakami 6-37, Butler 2-49, Lambe 1-20, Ilalio 1-16, Headstrom 1-11.