Bartlett crushed Eagle River 65-6 on Saturday night, when the evening’s biggest winner was Dimond.
No, they are not playing three-dimensional football in the Cook Inlet Conference.
But Bartlett’s second straight victory, courtesy of a line-of-scrimmage-dominating, opportunity-exploiting, ground-game-rampaging performance at Anchorage Football Stadium, eliminated Eagle River from postseason consideration and delivered Dimond the CIC’s last remaining spot in the large-school playoffs.
With one week remaining in the regular season, Dimond and Bartlett still could end up tied in the conference standings. But Dimond owns the tie-breaker on the strength of its 16-0 win over Bartlett, so the point is moot.
The CIC, which this season gets five playoff berths, will be represented by South, West, Service, Chugiak and Dimond. Three of the CIC’s four conference games next week, the last week of the regular season, will determine seedings.
Chugiak’s victory over East on Friday night ended any shot Bartlett had at the postseason, but the Golden Bears proved spoilers against Eagle River. Bartlett, which last week snapped its program’s 17-game losing streak, snuffed Eagle River’s postseason ambitions lickety-split — the Golden Bears generated an 18-0 lead before eight minutes ran off the clock and led 40-0 at halftime.
“It’s a complete and total credit to the character of our kids,’’ said Bartlett coach Daniel Esparza. “We told our guys, ‘We’re going to control what we can control, and that’s winning games.’ ’’
The Golden Bears (2-5, 2-4 CIC) did that Saturday by pounding the Wolves (1-6, 1-5 CIC) with a potent rushing game initiated by an offensive line that furnished gaping holes and finished by a stable of running backs that blew through those openings.
Bartlett turned 47 carries into 442 yards rushing, which, for the offensive line, mean lunch is soon on Esparza. The coach promised to spring for grub for the O-line if Bartlett gained at least 300 yards. He mused he’s a teacher on a limited salary, so it’s looking like Costco pizzas for the boys.
Bartlett running back Edress Irving turned the first half into his personal recruiting tape. He rushed for 115 of his game-high 131 yards and three touchdowns in the first two quarters — he struck from 29 yards, 57 yards and 5 yards — and logged seven of his eight carries in that span. He also intercepted a pass in the first half.
Cole Kenney’s 83 yards on four carries included a 71-yard scoring burst. Kyree Honore (10 carries, 81 yards), Isaiah Masina (six carries, 51 yards), C.J. Hoffman (six carries, 40 yards), Dana Atafua (six carries, 34 yards) and Jordan Pace-Alexander (seven carries, 22 yards) each rushed for one touchdown.
Defensively, Bartlett copped five turnovers. The Golden Bears generally smothered Eagle River’s running attack at the line of scrimmage and also applied relentless pressure on Wolves quarterback Pete Kott. All that held Eagle River to just 166 yards total offense, which Esparza said was a credit to the defensive players and coaches Nick Middleton, Matt Witthoeft and Brian Mercereau.
Eagle River, which was without head coach Jason Brewer, who was deployed with his National Guard until earlier in the week, got off to a rough start.
The Wolves went for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 37 on the game’s opening possession but were stopped by a bevy of Bartlett defenders, led by Stephen Veatch, who later intercepted a pass. Irving scored two plays later.
Kaleb Johnson’s interception of Kott on Eagle River’s next possession led to Atafua’s touchdown run. And after Eagle River went three-and-out on its next possession, Irving answered with a 54-yard scoring dash.
The rout was on. Bartlett led 18-0 after just 7:50 ran off the clock.
“It was a good confidence-booster,’’ Irving said of that quick start.
Eagle River finally managed a touchdown in the third quarter on Isaiah Banks’ 20-yard run.
Still, it is the Golden Bears, playing for pride, who are just one of three CIC teams on a two-game winning streak — the others are West and Chugiak, both playoff-bound.
“We just didn’t give up,’’ Irving said. “We just kept playing, no matter what the outcome.’’
Find Doyle Woody’s blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
Eagle River 0 0 6 0 — 6
Bartlett 18 22 13 25 — 65
Bartlett — Irving 29 run (kick failed), 9:36.
Bartlett — Atafua 13 run (pass failed), 6:32.
Bartlett — Irving 54 run (run failed), 4:10.
Bartlett — Masina 23 run (Torres run), 5:41.
Bartlett — Irving 5 run (Belgarde kick), 4:12
Bartlett — Kenney 71 run (Belgarde kick), :14.
Bartlett — Hoffman 30 run (kick failed), 11:17.
Eagle River — I. Banks 20 run (pass failed), 4:51.
Bartlett — Honore 1 run (Freelove kick), :56.
Bartlett — Pace-Alexander 6 run (kick blocked), 1:42.
Bartlett — Lambert recovered Eagle River fumble in end zone (kick failed), :33.
Eagle River Bartlett
First downs 6 18
Rushes-yards 33-97 47-442
Passing yards 69 18
Return yards 153 150
Passes 7-16-3 1-2-0
Punts 4-23.3 2-25.5
Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 7-53 10-100
RUSHING — Eagle River: Hall 11-35, L. Banks 6-29, Kott 10-26, I. Banks 2-25, Ragina 1-1, Collins 2-0, Team 1-(-19). Bartlett: Irving 8-131, Kenney 4-83, Honore 10-81, Masina 6-51, Hoffman 6-40, Atafua 6-34, Pace-Alexander 7-22.
PASSING — Eagle River: Kott 7-16-3—69. Bartlett: Belgarde 1-1-0—18, Jones 0-1-0—0.
RECEIVING — Eagle River: I. Banks 4-29, Metzel 2-16, Collins 1-24. Bartlett: Irving 1-18.
By DOYLE WOODY