Service, South on collision course

Doyle Woody

September 15 can't get here fast enough.

That's the night defending state large-school football champion Service entertains South in a rematch of last year's state championship game and a meeting of what look like the top two teams in the Cook Inlet Conference.

Given what has transpired through the season's first three weeks in the CIC -- namely, a series of blowouts -- Service-South doesn't shape up as the latest Game of the Century so much as the Game of the Millennium. (Only to be trumped if the Cougars and Wolverines claw at one another in the playoffs; then, presumably, we're going Game of the Epoch on you).

In any event, of the nine CIC games played this so far, five have been so lopsided -- a 35-point lead or larger after three quarters -- that the entire fourth quarter was played with a running clock mandated by mercy rules. Another game went to a running clock for the final 10 minutes. And only one game -- Dimond 14, Chugiak 7 -- has been decided by a touchdown or less.

One blessed upside -- haven't heard a single coach utter "parity.''

What we appear to have in the eight-team CIC -- and, remember, four teams gain playoff berths -- are Haves and Have Nots.

The apparent Haves -- South (3-0 CIC), Service (2-0), West (2-0) and Dimond (2-0). West and Dimond, though, come with asterisks -- they each beat Eagle River (0-3) and Chugiak (0-2) and don't play Service and South until the final two weeks of the regular season.

The apparent Have Nots -- Bartlett (0-2), East (0-2), Chugiak and Eagle River. To be fair, more caveats -- Bartlett and East each had the misfortune of playing their first two league games against Service and South, so, no feeling-out jabs from opponents, just a couple of straight right crosses delivered pronto after the opening bell.

The asterisks and caveats are merely a fluke of the schedule, mind you, not a conspiracy of schedule-making. As always, the real conspiracy, to listen to outraged coaches and players on the sidelines at nearly every game, is how the game officials never give Team X a break and are always looking to stick it to them. We hear this tired conspiracy theory so often, let's just scrap the fancy artificial-turf fields and play all CIC games on a grassy knoll.

Of course, truth is occasionally revealed on CIC sidelines, as in this exchange a couple of weeks ago on the South sideline after an East player made a long return of a kickoff before stepping out of bounds.

South Player 1: "Who missed the tackle?''

South Player 2: "Everyone.''

Anyhow, early indications peg Service and South as the superior sides in the CIC. Those teams are locks to fill two of the conference's four playoff spots. The jury is still out on West and Dimond, and, frankly, we don't have any kind of handle on which teams will get the final two playoff berths.

Service in the previous two seasons won a state title and was runner-up. The Cougars are so loaded that their brilliant all-state quarterback, Amu Aukusitino, is playing at running back because of an injury (gee, think it's his throwing shoulder?). And he's still shredding defenses. So gifted and determined is Aukusitino, he could probably heavily influence a game at nose tackle.

In the meantime, junior C.J. Toomer has stepped in at quarterback -- and shredded defenses.

South features its usual litany of 43 running backs (only a slight exaggeration) and a third-year starter in quarterback Zach Lujan, who lends the offense a second dimension. The Wolverines' defense is quick and agile.

Count on both teams being undefeated in the CIC by the time they meet. Service has Eagle River and Chugiak on tap before then. South prefaces the big game with one against Chugiak, then one in California against Vista Murietta, which from what we've read, sounds like a tremendous college program.

In the next two weeks, the CIC pecking order below Service and South could become a little more clear.

Still, Sept. 15 can't get here fast enough.

This column is the opinion of Daily News reporter Doyle Woody. Find his blog at or call him at 257-4335.

Doyle Woody