Anchorage — Bringing sportsmanship to a lopsided game Saturday night, South coach John Lewis instructed quarterback Alec Valdez to take a knee and let time expire against East.
In the first half.
The defending large-school state champion Wolverines opened their season with Nicholas Settle motoring 86 yards for a touchdown on the opening kickoff, and they rarely tapped the brakes in a 65-6 throttling of the Thunderbirds in the only Cook Inlet Conference game of Week 1.
South's defense hounded East into seven turnovers at Anchorage Football Stadium, They also returned two interceptions to the house, blocked a punt, limited the T-Birds to 55 yards total offense on 50 plays from scrimmage, and drove East back for negative yardage on a dozen plays.
Basically, South looked like a program that is not content to sleep on its considerable laurels.
By the time Valdez an interception 42 yards for a touchdown and a 21-6 lead, only 4 minutes, 42 seconds had elapsed. The Wolverines led 48-6 at halftime, and that's against an East program that advanced to the playoffs in each of coach Jeff Trotter's two previous seasons.
Settle required just 12 seconds to get the Wolverines on the scoreboard, and East promptly fumbled away the ball on its second snap from scrimmage. But a poor snap to Valdez on the ensuing play prompted Matthew Schnellbaecher's 68-yard fumble return and trimmed South's lead to 7-6.
That about covered East's highlights for the evening.
South quickly received a 1-yard scoring run from Andrew West, Valdez's pick for six and Roman Stephan's 22-yard touchdown run before the first quarter ended with the Wolverines in command, 28-6.
Under Alaska high school football rules, a 35-point lead at any point in the fourth quarter triggers the mercy rule -- a running clock. For a point of reference, consider that South reached a 35-point cushion with 3:58 left in the second quarter.
The Wolverines' usual depth was again in play -- 11 different South players carried the ball. Also, its defense proved swarming and physical. Defensive lineman John Widmar furnished a defensive touchdown when he batted a pass by East quarterback Clayton Washburn, snatched the ball out of the air and returned it 27 yards late in the first half.
South didn't rack ridiculous yardage -- 297 yards total offense -- but that was principally because it operated so often on a short field. Stephan carried the evening with 120 yards rushing on just 10 totes.
East's schedule -- "the buzz-saw,'' as Trotter termed it last week -- does not get any easier. Next up is defending state runner-up Service. After that comes Palmer, which opened the season Friday night by beating CIC member Bartlett and has reached the playoffs 13 straight seasons.
South this week plays Bartlett.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
East 6 0 0 0 -- 6
South 28 20 17 0 -- 65
South -- Settle 86 kickoff return (Imlach kick), :00
East -- Schnellbaecher 68 fumble return (kick failed), 11:08
South -- West 1 run (Imlach kick) 7:53
South -- Valdez 42 interception return (Imlach kick), 7:18
South -- Stephan 22 run (Imlach kick), 4:38
South -- Hoover 1 run (Imlach), 8:41
South -- Settle 3 run (run failed), 3:41
South -- Widmar 27 interception return (Imlach kick), 2:27
South -- Settle 24 pass from Valdez (Imlach kick), 10:47
South -- Stephan 3 run (Imlach kick), 5:47
South -- FG 35 Imlach, 4:09
First downs 5 13
Rushes-yards 36-27 46-226
Passing yards 28 71
Return yards 147 159
Passes 4-14-3 3-4-0
Punts 5-28.6 2-47.5
Fumbles-lost 5-4 3-2
Penalties-yards 10-99 3-20
RUSHING -- East: Lealoa 10-15, Scott 6-11, Berry 4-7, Fonoti 2-9, Brown 3-2, Hawk 2-(-6), Washburn 8-(-12), Team 1-(-15). South: Stephan 10-120, Settle 5-32, Hoover 8-29, Augafa 5-26, Valdez 6-12, West 4-8, Morman 1-8, Cook 3-4, Light 1-1, Maisey 1-(-4), Kile 1-(-6).
PASSING -- East: Washburn 4-14-3--28. South: Valdez 2-3-0--55, Kile 1-16.
RECEIVING -- East: Piliati 2-26, Brown 1-4, Berry 1-(-2). South: Devoe 1-31, Settle 1-24, Hudson 1-16.