Chugiak football coach Duncan Shackelford knows how tough the game can be for a young team, so after the Mustangs dispatched Colony 35-7 at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium on Saturday, he made his way across the field to give a little pep talk to the Knights.
He praised their tough play and told them wins will come their way if they keep working hard.
"I got a ton of respect for those kids over there," Shackelford said.
Colony, a playoff team last season, hasn't won a game this season and, coming into Saturday's nonconference game, had been shut out in all but one. The young, rebuilding Knights started five sophomores and have only one returning letterman from last season's squad.
Colony couldn't muster a first down against Chugiak until the second half, after it already trailed by 35 points. Once the Knights achieved a first down, they continued marching down the field on an 81-yard drive that ended with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Rob Lorentz to Antonio Bush.
Colony coach Brian MacIntosh said scoring that touchdown immediately lifted the spirit of the entire team.
"I forgot what the score was," he said. "It was like we won the game."
For Chugiak, the challenge of the week was to regain a competitive edge after losing two straight Cook Inlet Conference games, said Shackelford.
"Last week there was no intensity," he said. "We wanted them to take it personally this week. It was just a great week of practice."
The practice paid off to the tune of two quick touchdown drives in the first quarter. Running back Dylan Timberlake made the bulk of the carries on the Mustangs' opening drive and finished it with a 1-yard touchdown run. Just before the end of the first quarter, quarterback Jacob Wenzl turned a broken play into a 14-yard scramble for a score.
Justin Schneider shouldered most of the load for the Mustangs after the first quarter, running for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. He scored on a 1-yard blast with one second remaining in the first half and he broke away for a 20-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter.
Shackelford said he was happy with Schneider's play and with an offensive line that helped the Mustangs accumulate 313 rushing yards. He said the Mustangs will have to keep it up if they want a crack at the postseason.
"We can't lose," he said. "If they keep up the same intensity, we will put ourselves in a good position."
Chugiak (3-2, 2-2 CIC) is tied with Bartlett, West and East for third place in the CIC and will close its regular season with games against Dimond, West and East.
For Colony (0-5, 0-3 Railbelt Conference), the rebuilding will continue as the Knights learn what kind of intensity is needed to play winning varsity football.
Senior Ty Farber is the only letterman from last season's team and he said the Knights keep finding a way to come into each game with an optimistic outlook, hoping it's their week to win.
"We build up and build up before the game," Farber said. "We're not the best, but we play hard and have fun while we do it."
Macintosh said a lot of his players came straight from last season's freshman team and some weren't ready for the high level of emotion that comes with playing varsity football.
"They're good kids and they're athletes," Macintosh said. "This is the most fun they've had for a few weeks."
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
Colony 0 0 7 0 -- 7
Chugiak 14 7 14 0 -- 35
Chugiak -- Timberlake 1 run, (Lowe kick), 8:40
Chugiak -- Wenzl 14 run, (Lowe kick), 1:19
Chugiak -- Schneider 1 run, (Lowe kick), 0:01
Chugiak -- Schneider 20 run, (Lowe kick), 11:38
Chugiak -- Snell 1 run (Lowe kick), 10:02
Colony -- Bush 16 pass from Lorentz, (Syren kick), 6:41
First downs 6 19
Rushes-yards 28-59 53-313
Passing yards 52 14
Return yards 77 85
Passes 2-3-0 6-13-2
Punts 3-24.3 0-0.0
Fumbles-lost 5-2 3-2
Penalties-yards 2-10 10-90
RUSHING -- Colony: Peltier 15-52, Niver 1-20, Summers 2-4, No. 15 1-1, Lorentz 6 (-18). Chugiak: Schneider 16-124, Wenzl 6-57, Timberlake 12-43, Fitzhugh 5-25, Nicholson 8-21, Benzel 3-20, Snell 2-8, Leavitt 1-3, Harris 2-3.
PASSING -- Colony: Lorentz 6-11-1--52, Niver 0-2-1--0. Chugiak: Wenzl 2-3-0--14.
RECEIVING -- Colony: Root 3-17, Bush 2-18, Bilafer 1-8. Chugiak: Plumb 1-11, Simpson 1-3.
By JEREMY PETERS
Anchorage Daily News