Guns a'blazing, the South Wolverines showed there's a new sheriff in Alaska prep football Saturday night as they prepared for a big Texas showdown next weekend with a 57-12 whupping of Chugiak at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium.
"We came out here and wanted to make a big statement to the rest of the state," said South running back Nicholas Settle, who galloped to a game-high 156 yards on just eight carries.
The Wolverines (2-0 overall, 2-0 in the Cook Inlet Conference) now have a clash against Stephenville, Texas, looming Friday night under the Texas lights.
Ranked No. 2 in Alaska entering the game -- and with No. 1 West losing Friday -- the Wolverines look poised to take over the top spot in advance of their big road trip.
"We're very excited about getting to play down there," said South coach John Lewis.
Chugiak actually had the upper hand to open Saturday's contest after recovering an onside kick on the first play of the game. But South's stingy defense forced the first of six Chugiak punts, setting the tone for the night. The Wolverines forced three Chugiak turnovers and held the Mustangs to 12 yards rushing in the first half, which ended with South holding a 42-0 lead.
"They're going to be a tough team to beat," said Chugiak coach Roger Spackman, whose team fell to 0-1 in the CIC and 1-1 overall.
While South's defense was solid, it was the offense that truly shined against the Mustangs. Settle piled up 150 of his yards by halftime, while Justice Augafa rushed for two touchdowns and returned a punt for another by the break.
Augafa got things going with a 1-yard run in the first quarter, then scored again 15 seconds later on a 14-yard carry. His second score was set up by a bone-rattling hit on the ensuing kickoff by Jacob Hoover, who jarred the ball loose for Sam Cook to recover deep inside Mustangs territory.
Settle's 30-yard run made it 20-0 after one quarter, and the Wolverines were on their way to a rout.
Chugiak had an opportunity to get back in the game early in the second quarter when South punter Andrew Jarrell fumbled a snap and was tackled inside the 1-yard line. But South's defense was up to the challenge, stuffing the Mustangs and forcing a missed field goal try by Tyler Tulare.
Spackman said his team's inability to convert the gimme was a turning point.
"That was huge," he said.
Settle added his second 30-yard touchdown run on South's next drive, which took four plays and was keyed by a 33-yard pass from quarterback Colin Thompson to Alain Devoe.
South forced a Chugiak punt, which Augafa at first appeared uninterested in fielding. But the ball bounced directly to the speedy senior, who alertly scooped it up and scampered 52 yards to paydirt past a stunned Chugiak special-teams unit.
"We were just wildly inconsistent," Spackman said.
After another Chugiak punt, Settle provided the game's most electric play when he took the handoff and raced 72 yards through the heart of the Chugiak defense.
Lewis said he was particularly pleased with the play of his offensive line, which was shuffled around a bit after a lackluster performance in South's 20-0 win over Dimond in Week 1.
"That was the biggest thing for us," he said. "The o-line playing well will keep the defense fresh."
South's first score of the second half was emblematic of the entire game. After Chugiak forced South to turn the ball over on downs, the South defense was late getting on the field as Chugiak snapped the ball. But the Mustangs' Vander Lekites fumbled the pitch from quarterback Ben Stewart, and by the time Lekites could recover he was being tackled in the end zone by South's Matthew Keogh.
Settle hauled in a 16-yard catch-and-run from Thompson late in the third, pausing only long enough to run over a Mustang defender at the goal line.
Cook added a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth that put South up 57-0.
Chugiak's Kenny Lee gave the home fans something to cheer about with a pair of late touchdown runs for the Mustangs, the second coming as time expired.
Spackman said his team will have to execute better if it wants to compete in the CIC this season.
"We've got to take care of our business better," he said.
The Mustangs play Bartlett next Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Bartlett High.
South will take a week off from Alaska competition to test itself against a team from the epicenter of high school football. Lewis said his team is ready for the test, and he thinks the Wolverines have sent a clear message that they're the team to beat in the 49th state.
"I sure hope so," he said.
WOLVERINES 57, MUSTANGS 12
South 20 22 8 7 — 57
Chugiak 0 0 0 12 — 12
SOU — Augafa 1 run (Seglem kick), 6:34
SOU — Augafa 14 (Seglem kick), 6:19
SOU — Settle 30 run (kick missed), 1:41
SOU — Settle 30 run (Cook run), 6:53
SOU — Augafa 52 punt return (Seglem kick), 5:05
SOU — Settle 72 run (Seglem kick), 1:53
SOU — Safety (Keogh tackled Lekites in end zone), 6:37
SOU — Settle 16 pass from Thompson (kick missed), 4:16
SOU — Cook 2 run (Seglem kick), 9:59
CHU — Lee 4 run (kick missed), 7:10
CHU — Lee 8 run (no try allowed), :00
RUSHING — South: Settle 8-156, Augafa 20-95, Cook 8-78, Morse 3-5, Thompson 2-3. Chugiak: Lekites 7-70, Lee 7-39, Young 4-21, Williams 3-13, Quigley 1-4, Regina 1-0, Stewart 13-(-24).
PASSING — South: Thompson 7-8-0--133. Chugiak: Stewart 5-16-0--85.
RECEIVING — South: Devoe 3-60, Settle 3-54, Hudson 1-19. Chugiak: Snell 4-72, Lekites 1-13.