Think of Bartlett's 53-7 romp over visiting South as high school football's Flashback Friday.
Or Air Esparza, The Sequel.
Just as it did in Week 5 of the season a year ago in racking a 56-30 victory, the run-first, run-a-lot Golden Bears and Daniel Esparza, the co-head coach and offensive coordinator, flashed a multi-dimensional dynamic that pierced the Wolverines with passing.
Bartlett senior quarterback Zai Malia-Hughes completed 8 of 14 passes for 137 yards and four touchdowns Friday. He connected with senior Jonnavin Suon six times for 100 yards and two of those touchdowns.
Just like last year, when Bartlett quarterback Aaron Egoak threw four touchdown passes against South, the Golden Bears improved to 2-0 in the Cook Inlet Conference. They're 3-2 overall. Just like last year, the Golden Bears are ranked No. 3 among Alaska's Division I teams, those with the largest enrollments.
And just like last year, South slipped to 0-2 in the CIC. The Wolverines are 1-4.
And — sense a trend? — just like last year, Bartlett complemented its passing attack with its usual running rigor. This time around, the Golden Bears turned 55 rushes into 363 yards. That bounty combined with their passing exploits to give them a nice, round 500 yards total offense.
Suon, who also caught one of Malia-Hughes' two conversion passes, said he tries to keep Esparza mindful that the Golden Bears can accomplish good things through the air.
"We hustle him because we know our receivers can catch and our quarterback can throw," Suon said.
Suon caught a 15-yard strike from Malia-Hughes in the first quarter and a 4-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. The latter, combined with Suon's extra point, gave Bartlett a 46-0 lead and assured a cushion that prompted a mercy-rule running clock in the fourth quarter.
A point-differential of 35 points or more after three quarters triggers a running clock. The Golden Bears got to that point despite a 68-yard touchdown bolt from South running back Henry Kimmins with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter that cut Bartlett's lead to 46-7.
Malia-Hughes, who completed all four touchdowns on roll-outs, joked that contributing to so many points made him feel a little like Bartlett's touchdown-making running back Jontay Edwards. Even so, he wasn't focused on putting up big numbers.
"As long as we win, I'm satisfied," Malia-Hughes said.
Malia-Hughes also connected with Dallas Tellef on a 20-yard touchdown pass and Montaie Crouse on a 16-yard score. Bartlett also received a 6-yard touchdown run from Hunter Cargill, as well as an 31-yard interception return from Don'rail Ingram and a 10-yard scoring run from Ingram. Bartlett's Vaituu Motuga put points on the board on the game's first snap from scrimmage — an errant South snap — when he tackled Chance Phonsavang in the end zone.
Esparza said South's stout interior defense early on opened up the passing game for Bartlett.
"South did a good job of taking the run game away from us between the tackles, and that opened up the perimeter for us," Esparza said.
For what it's worth, Malia-Hughes also had a hand in Bartlett's passing success against South last year, when he caught one of Egoak's touchdown passes.
Despite giving up big rushing yards Friday, South's defense was more physical than it was in a 28-0 home loss to Service last week. Still, the long slide continues for the Wolverines. They have gone 4-18 since winning the state title in 2014.
Kimmins' long touchdown run marked South's second offensive touchdown in five games this season. The Golden Bears held the Wolverines to 126 yards total offense — 107 of those yards came on two plays, Kimmins' touchdown and Phongsavang's 39-yard run in the first quarter.
South 0 0 7 0 — 7
Bartlett 16 16 14 7 — 53
Bartlett — Motuga tackled Phonsavang in end zone, 14:49.
Bartlett — Suon 15 pass from Malia-Hughes (run failed), 8:06.
Bartlett — Cargill 6 run (Cargill pass from Malia-Hughes), 2:17.
Bartlett — Ingram 31 interception return (Alaniva pass from Malia-Hughes), 6:14.
Bartlett — Tellef 20 pass from Malia-Hughes (Edwards run), 1:16.
Bartlett — Couse 16 pass from Malia-Hughes (Suon kick), 8:17.
Bartlett — Suon 4 pass from Malia-Hughes (Suon kick), 3:53.
South — Kimmins 68 run (Winsor kick), 1:51.
Bartlett — Ingram 10 run (Suon kick), 9:22.
RUSHING — South: Kimmins 3-70, Phonsavang 8-56, Stokes 1-11, Lincoln 1-1, Bentz 6-(-6), Team 1-(-11). Bartlett: Cargill 12-79, Lear 12-71, Fudge 9-69, Edwards 14-69, Wilson 6-38, Ingram 3-36, Suon 1-15, Borschnack 1-(-1), Malia-Hughes 1-(-13).
PASSING — South: Bentz 4-12-2–5. Bartlett: Malia-Hughes 8-14-1–137.
RECEIVING — South: Cason 1-3, Pelenato 1-3, Stokes 1-1, Kimmins 1-(-2). Bartlett: Suon 6-100, Tellef 1-20, Couse 1-15.