The biggest Cook Inlet Conference football blowout in a decade unfolded Saturday afternoon when Service showed up with a roster loaded with size and experience and Eagle River showed up with a roster full of first-year players. So it came as little surprise when the Cougars shut out the Wolves 72-0.
The game ball went to Service's defensive line, which repeatedly blew past Eagle River's offensive linemen. But it was senior Emetrius McLeod who put on a show with four touchdowns -- two of them the result of interceptions -- and a safety.
"I was just doing my job," said McLeod. "I was doing my assignments, running my routes hard and blocking. We came out like we were playing anyone else and took care of business."
Senior quarterback Darrin Tatum put the first points on the scoreboard with a 15-yard run. Tatum went on to rush for a second touchdown and threw for four more, twice finding McLeod for touchdowns.
The game was the most lopsided CIC contest since 2004, when East shut out Dimond 75-0 in what remains the league's worst blowout.
Head coaches of both teams said Eagle River's youth and inexperience were a factor in the game. Eagle River coach Matt Turner said his roster has one freshman, 11 sophomores, four juniors and eight seniors.
"Only one of our seniors had ever played before, and two of our juniors are brand new to football," said Turner. "Only four of our guys had taken a snap before."
Experience isn't lacking on the Cougars' bench. Service (2-0 overall, 1-0 CIC) is primarily made up of juniors and seniors, many of whom played for the state title last season. They showed their experience by holding the Wolves (0-2, 0-1) to five first downs and pushing them to punt eight times.
And if inexperience wasn't enough of a battle for Eagle River, the Wolves were also fighting several injuries. Last week they lost senior running back Leroy Banks to a concussion. And at Saturday's game, starting defensive lineman Dylan Smith was strapped to a stretcher and put in an ambulance after taking a helmet to the back of his head. The game was halted for nearly 20 minutes as medical personnel assessed Smith. Turner said Smith showed signs of a concussion.
It was hard to "bring the team back up" after watching a team leader be taken off of the field, Turner said. He said other members of the team suffered a variety of smaller "boo-boos."
The Wolves only get five days before they step onto the field again -- they play East on Thursday. Turner said that won't give the Wolves enough time to change anything about the way they play, but he's hoping everyone heals quickly.
Service's upcoming game is going to be a "huge" moment for the team, coach Kevin Kern said. The Cougars will see West for the first time since losing to the Eagles 28-16 in last year's state football championship.
"They always play hard against us and we always play hard against them," said Kern. "We have a lot to work on still. We had too many penalties (5 for 47 yards). I don't know if it was just the style of play or what, but it's nothing we can't clean up."
Service 14 28 23 7 — 72
Eagle River 0 0 0 0 — 0
Service — Tatum 15 run (Beelman kick), 5:51
Service — McLeod 38 pass from Tatum (Beelman kick), 3:30
Service — McLeod 3 pass from Tatum (Beelman kick), 10:30
Service — Tatum 10 run (Beelman kick), 8:51
Service — McLeod 31 interception (Beelman kick), 5:32
Service — Allen 20 pass from Tatum (Beelman kick), 4:45
Service — Morrell-Bucy 45 interception (Beelman kick), 8:42
Service — Fromm 10 pass from Tatum (Beelman kick), 7:17
Service — McLeod 10 safety, 6:50
Service — Hogan 10 run (Beelman kick), 2:10
Service — McLeod 26 interception (Cuellar kick) 5:25