Wins didn't always come easy for Bartlett football coach John Jessen.
When he started his career at Bartlett 16 years ago, Jessen said his team lost its first eight games.
"We didn't just get beat," he said. "We were victims."
The Golden Bears have been a little more productive since, and their 48-21 Cook Inlet Conference win over Eagle River at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium on Saturday night earned Jessen his 79th victory, moving him past Bob Swatosch for the most wins as a Bartlett coach.
"I really love our school, our community," Jessen said. "Our kids have been great through the years. I'm a lucky dude.''
The Golden Bears (2-1, 1-1 CIC) racked more than 400 rushing yards in a performance Jessen called almost Nebraska-like, but he wasn't happy with all the mistakes his team made.
Three fumbles and 115 yards in penalties set back more than one Bartlett drive. Still, the Golden Bears kept bouncing back with impressive plays that more than made up for the shortcomings.
No player personified that more than Keenan Honore, who was to blame for two fumbles, but was also responsible for two second-half touchdowns. He found the end zone on an 11-yard run and a 35-yard reception from quarterback Treshawn King-Dunbar. Honore, who said his fumbles were a result of trying to do too much and stretch for extra yards, said the team's mistakes came from a lack of focus.
"We just need to be more disciplined in practice," he said.
In all the years Jessen has coached, he said it's not unusual for teams to make mistakes early in the season, and he always hopes his teams will gain discipline sooner than later.
"I'll be telling them after practice, 'Don't wait too long to make your move,' " Jessen said.
The Golden Bears didn't wait long to pounce on the Wolves (0-3 overall, 0-2 CIC). Bartlett jumped to a 14-0 first-quarter lead with rushing touchdowns from Trent Anthony and King-Dunbar.
King-Dunbar punched in another short touchdown in the second quarter, creating a 21-7 lead. Michael Heckmann, who flashed some brilliant speed and agility on his eight carries, finished the first half scoring with a 13-yard run up the middle.
Eagle River stayed within striking distance, thanks to a 51-yard touchdown from Malcolm Bell and a 25-yard touchdown pass from Peter Kott to Javon Cross in the second quarter. Bartlett fumbled the ball on its 35 on the first drive of the second half, and after a couple of nice runs by Kott, it looked as though the Wolves might cut into Bartlett's 14-point lead. After a missed field-goal attempt from 30 yards left the Wolves with nothing, Bartlett marched right down the field and extended its lead to 22.
Eagle River coach Kenny Ray his team shows potential at times, but also lacks discipline and got into trouble with penalties at crucial moments. Ray said he isn't sure how to get his players to keep more level heads on the field.
"These kids, they watch the NFL, and they get enthusiasm going and it's hard to stop the adrenaline,'' Ray said.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
Bartlett 14 13 8 13 -- 42
Eagle River 0 13 0 8 -- 21
Bartlett -- King-Dunbar 4 run (run fail), 5:35.
Bartlett -- Anthony 11 run (Predmore pass from King-Dunbar), 1:49.
Eagle River --Bell 51 run (Oberlander kick), 11:05.
Bartlett -- King-Dunbar 2 run (King-Dunbar kick), 8:55.
Eagle River -- Cross 25 pass from Kott (kick blocked) 4:51
Bartlett --Heckmann 13 run (kick fail), 1:29.
Bartlett -- Honore 11 run (King-Dunbar run), 3:43.
Bartlett --Honore 35 pass from King-Dunbar (run fail), 10:04.
Eagle River -- Bell 9 run (Jeavonte pass from Kott), 8:56.
Bartlett -- Parker 8 run (King-Dunbar kick), 5:21.
Bartlett Eagle River
First downs 28 20
Rushes-yards 56-431 36-223
Passing yards 135 209
Return yards 55 60
Passes 10-11-0 12-30-2
Punts 0-0.0 2-32.0
Fumbles-lost 3-3 2-1
Penalties-yards 15-115 11-75
RUSHING -- Bartlett: Anthony 11-146; King-Dunbar 12-72; Heckmann 8-64; Parker 7-58; Honore 10-58; Brons 5-20; Kenney 3-13. Eagle River: Bell 16-125; Hall 3-11; Kott 15-96; J. Madubuko 2-1.
PASSING -- Bartlett: King-Dunbar 10-11-0--135. Eagle River: Kott 12-30-2--209.
RECEIVING -- Bartlett: Honore 7-101; Anthony 3-31. Eagle River: K. Madubuko; 5-87; Cross 3-75; Hall 1-20; Dunn 1-15; Duxbury 1-10; Bell 1-2.