A flat week of practice followed by an indifferent first half didn't exactly prompt West High football coach Tim Davis to hand out literal or figurative hugs at halftime Friday night.
Instead, he called out his club.
The Eagles answered with three touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second half on the way to a 35-0 Cook Inlet Conference victory over Bartlett at Anchorage Football Stadium.
"I did throw the gauntlet down and they responded with enthusiasm, and they took a game that was a game and turned it into a blowout in about six minutes,'' Davis said.
Those three touchdowns actually came in a span of 7:39, but that's just nitpicking.
The Eagles (3-1, 3-0 CIC) knew Davis was right, so they dialed in their focus after leading 14-0 at the break and quickly enforced a 35-0 advantage that prompted the fourth quarter to be played with a running clock as mandated by mercy rules.
"Once we get things rolling, we get fired up and get going,'' said West quarterback Conor Feckley.
After Lincoln Tulimasaelii bolted 60 yards up the right sideline for a touchdown on the second snap from scrimmage in the second half, Feckley connected with Leroy Elliott on a 37-yard strike and hooked up with Eric Vandervort on a 15-yard touchdown. Elliott caught six passes for 123 yards and Vandervort latched onto four for 56 yards.
Feckley completed 13 of 20 passes for 257 yards, but it was his legs that furnished the Eagles some life in the first half, when he rushed seven times -- six of them scrambles -- for 75 yards.
"The line did a good job and guys were open -- they came back to the huddle and told me they were open -- (but) I just saw some opportunities and I took them,'' Feckley said.
Those forays set up Tulimasaelii for a 4-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and a 10-yarder in the second quarter. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder gained 138 yards on just nine carries.
Feckley throws right-handed, but he used his left hand, while in the grasp of a defender, to hook a 19-yard completion to Dave Tuilimu in the third quarter. He also punted twice for an average of 36.5 yards -- with his left foot.
"I write with my left hand and punt with my left foot, but I throw with my right hand,'' Feckley said. "I'm a weird kid.''
While Bartlett (0-4, 0-3 CIC) could not muster a hint of a running game against West -- minus 27 yards on 19 carries -- sophomore quarterback Zyrelle Jones showed continued improvement. The 6-4, 200-pounder throws a nice, tight ball, and each week he appears more poised and makes better decisions.
Jones completed 16 of 23 passes for 136 yards without an interception.
"It was definitely his best game,'' said Bartlett coach Daniel Esparza.
Bartlett has yet to score a point in its three CIC games -- "We need to punch it in; I'm not shaving until we do,'' Esparza said -- but it also has faced the most punishing early-season schedule in the league.
The Golden Bears' first three games were against defending state champion Service (42-0), last season's state runner-up in South (49-0) and West. Those are the three unbeaten teams in league play.
Bartlett junior Edress Irving caught six passes for 40 yards, and D'Coursey Reynolds and Kyree Honore each caught three passes. Six different Bartlett receivers recorded at least one catch.
"I'm proud of our receivers and skill kids,'' Esparza said. "We've been on them about making plays, and making it want to happen, and they did that tonight.''
Afterward, Esparza told his team its playoffs begin next week against Dimond. Bartlett has four league games left. Four wins usually guarantees a CIC team one of the league's four berths in the state large-school playoffs.
While Bartlett's schedule has proved brutal, West's escalates perfectly. The Eagles opened against winless Eagle River (49-6), beat winless Chugiak (48-13) and took care of winless Bartlett. Next up is East (1-2 CIC), followed by Dimond (2-1), South (4-0) and Service (3-0).
"We like being able to get better and better for the end of the season with Service and South, which are two powerhouses,'' Feckley said.
One thing the Eagles would do well to clean up against tougher teams, though, is their penchant for penalties. They were flagged 13 times for 138 yards Friday and through three league games have averaged 12 penalties and 105 yards of backtracking per game.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
West 7 7 21 0 -- 35
Bartlett 0 0 0 0 -- 0
West -- Tulimasaelii 4 run (Carson kick), 4:27.
West -- Tulimasaelii 10 run (Carson kick), 3:54.
West -- Tulimasaelii 60 run (Carson kick), 10:56.
West -- Elliott 37 pass from Feckley (Carson kick), 7:16.
West -- Vandervort 15 pass from Feckley (Carson kick), 3:17.
First downs 18 8
Rushes-yards 27-224 19-(-27)
Passing yards 257 136
Return yards 63 51
Passes 13-20-0 16-24-0
Punts 2-36.5 6-25.3
Fumbles-lost 3-1 2-2
Penalties-yards 13-138 3-15
RUSHING -- West: Tulimasaelii 9-138, Feckley 8-68, Sailele 4-24, Faamasino 2-9, Tuilimu 1-1, Auza 1-(-1), Bozzini 2-(-15). Bartlett: Heckman 2-4, Honore 4-(-2), Rowland 1-(-2), Irving 4-(-9), Jones 8-(-18).
PASSING -- West: Feckley 13-20-0--257, Bozzini 0-1-0--0. Bartlett: Jones 16-23-0--136, Schmidt 0-1-0--0.
RECEIVING -- West: Elliott 6-123, Vandervort 4-56, Apulu 1-32, Wilson 1-27, Tuilimu 1-19. Bartlett: Irving 6-40, Reynolds 3-48, Honore 3-11, K. Johnson 2-19, Rowland 1-12, B. Johnson 1-6.