The evidence of Service's first-half funk Saturday afternoon included six penalties, three fumbles, one of which it lost, two dropped passes, an ejection, a couple instances of players uncertain where to line up and general malaise.
So high are the standards for the defending state large-school champion and current top-ranked team that the Cougars were not enamored with themselves after a 32-0 Cook Inlet Conference victory over winless Eagle River .
"We try to play a perfect game every game,'' said quarterback C.J. Toomer. "We know a lot is expected of us, and we expect a lot out of ourselves. We can't fall asleep on any team.''
While Service (3-1, 3-0 CIC) played much sharper in the second half at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium in Chugiak -- only one penalty, for five yards, for instance -- coach Numi Ilalio hasn't been pleased with his team in its last two games. Service beat East 50-28 a week ago.
After leading East just 28-20 at halftime last week, Service led by a relatively tame 19-0 at halftime Saturday.
Granted, the Cougars played without senior all-purpose threat Amu Aukusitino, the all-state returner who is basically a Swiss Army Knife in pads but sat out to rest an injury. Still, Ilalio would like to see his team sharper.
"We played undisciplined, and it's tough when you play undisciplined,'' he said. "It really affects everything you do. I could care less if we win football games, I just want us to play disciplined.''
Toomer sparked Service in the first half, when he racked 96 of his game-high 122 yards rushing, most of them on zone reads in which he took off out of the pocket and gained big chunks of yardage. Those gains helped lead to his two 1-yard touchdown runs and a 5-yard touchdown run from Ihro Raguindin.
"The holes were there,'' Toomer said. "(Ilalio) said, if you can get five, go. So I did.''
Toomer threw second-half touchdown passes of 5 yards to Nick Butler and 27 yards to Kylelle Brown, and completed 14 of 22 passes for 208 yards, without an interception.
As a first-year starter, Toomer, a junior, is making strides while Aukusitino, who quarterbacked Service to the title last season, has been used at running back while he recovers from a shoulder injury.
"He was definitely making good reads,'' Ilalio said of Toomer. "We's definitely getting better. He wasn't sharp last week. He had a great week of practice this week, and you play like you practice.''
Service forced four turnovers and held Eagle River to 101 yards total offense. Hiapo McCandless recovered two fumbles, Samuel McCallum recovered one and Trevor Howe snagged an interception after Anthony Sheppard tipped a pass at the line.
Eagle River (0-4, 0-4 CIC) was shut out for the first time this season, yet continued to improve, especially given its opponent Saturday.
The Wolves snuffed the Cougars' drive at the Eagle River 5-yard line to start the fourth quarter, with linebacker Jachi Madubuko stuffing runs for negative yardage on both third and fourth downs. Eagle River also reeled off a 19-play drive that consumed 8 minutes, 59 seconds in the fourth quarter.
"Leaps and bounds,'' Madubuko said of his team's improvement. "I guess the scoreboard doesn't show it, but they're the state champions and we held them to 32 points.
"Small mistakes. We'll find a game where we won't make those mistakes and the scoreboard will show it.''
As part of the CIC's Military Appreciation Weekend, Ilalio, who recently retired from active duty after 24 years in the Army, was honored in a pregame ceremony. During the ceremony, he received a plaque from his players.
"I was very touched,'' Ilalio said.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
Service 7 12 6 7 -- 32
Eagle River 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Service -- Toomer 1 run (Raguindin kick), 7:30.
Service -- Raguindin 5 run (run failed), 4:01.
Service -- Toomer 1 run (run failed), :08.
Service -- Butler 5 pass from Toomer (run failed), 1:40.
Service -- Brown 27 pass from Toomer (Raguindin kick), 10:50.
Service Eagle River
First downs 18 8
Rushes-yards 45-216 29-75
Passing yards 208 26
Return yards 22 46
Passes 14-22-0 5-13-1
Punts 0-0.0 2-39.5
Fumbles-lost 3-1 4-3
Penalties-yards 7-68 3-20
RUSHING -- Service: Toomer 21-122, Jones 12-57, Raguindin 9-21, Corder 3-16. Eagle River: Hall 9-49, Oberlander 5-26, Eller 6-10, Madubuko 1-4, Ireland 1-1, Team 1-(-2), Collins 6-(-12).
PASSING -- Service: Toomer 14-22-0--208. Eagle River: Eller 3-9-0--18, Collins 2-4-1--8.
RECEIVING -- Service: Butler 4-68, Brown 4-29, Williamson 3-29, Fromm 1-63, Howe 1-14, Robinson 1-5. Eagle River: Duxbury 3-9, Dunn 1-13, Collins 1-4.
Week 4 scores
North Pole 43, Kenai 9
Service 32, Eagle River 0
Nikiski 54, Seward 0
Soldotna 38, Homer 8
Lathrop 48, Wasilla 32
Kodiak vs. Thunder Mountain, not reported
Valdez vs. Barrow, not reported
Juneau 21, Colony 20
South 41, Chugiak 3
West 35, Bartlett 0
Palmer 26, West Valley 7
Houston 32, Skyview 26
East 21, Dimond 0