This past week featured some exciting postseason play, shocking results and dominant performances at both the prep and collegiate level across the Alaska sports landscape. On the high school football front, a pair of upsets took place in Anchorage as both Homer and Colony avenged lopsided regular-season losses in their respective playoff games while both Lathrop and Juneau took care of business with similar formulas. The South High volleyball team snapped a long losing streak but more importantly raised a large sum of money for a great cause. The University of Alaska Anchorage volleyball and men’s hockey teams completed sweeps at home.
Headlines and highlights
Arguably the most shocking result of the week in high school football action was the upset of Bartlett in the semifinal round of the Division I playoffs to a team that it beat by nearly 40 points in the regular season. After the Golden Bears handed them a humbling 46-7 defeat on the road in Week 6 on Sept. 17, the Colony Knights took a long look in the mirror and went back to the drawing board.
“When we lost to them, we had a serious talk in the locker room after that and at practice the following week,” Colony coach Robbie Nash said. “The team really changed, their whole attitude changed and they’ve really been proving it week in and week out.”
With a chance to punch their ticket to the state championship game for just the third time in program history and the first time since 2006, Nash’s youngest son Jack, was the difference for the Knights. He recorded seven total touchdowns with six coming on offense and one on a huge momentum-shifting 87-yard interception return for a touchdown just before halftime.
“I knew that if I were to score before halftime, it would bring us to an advantage and they would fold, and that’s kind of what happened,” Jack Nash said.
Jack Nash, the CIC Defensive Player of the Year, finished the game with 238 yards and five touchdowns through the air and added another 105 yards and a score on the ground.
Even though it came in a losing effort, Bartlett senior running back and CIC Offensive Player of the Year, Niko Alailefaleula, finished his illustrious high school career with another strong outing in which he ran for 227 yards and three touchdowns.
After getting shut out 46-0 by Houston in the regular season, Homer exacted sweet revenge in the Division III state championship game with a thrilling 22-20 triumph. The Mariners not only stunned Houston they spoiled the Hawks’ perfect season by claiming the first ever title for Homer. Senior quarterback Carter Tennison missed the first matchup between the two teams and was the difference in the title game as he had a hand in scoring 16 of the Mariners’ total points
The two-headed rushing attack of senior running back Tyler Clooten and junior quarterback Jenner Webb combined for over 300 yards on the ground and helped Lathrop claim its second straight Division II state championship over Soldotna in a game that was much closer than last year’s meeting between the two teams. The game was essentially decided by two pivotal plays, one in each half, in which the Malemutes stepped up on defense just before halftime and cashed in on a gutsy gamble to go for it deep in their own territory in the third quarter.
The only prep football game from this past weekend that wasn’t even relatively close and saw the higher seeded team win in commanding fashion was top-ranked Juneau’s 39-6 trouncing of defending Division I state champion Bettye Davis East. The Huskies had already avenged their loss in last year’s state title game with a 19-14 win over the Thunderbirds on the road in the final week of the regular season. This time around, they completely blew the doors off of East in an impressive showing in which their defense forced four turnovers, which included three interceptions.
Senior quarterback Jarrell Williams led the charge for Juneau on both sides of the ball with 235 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries on offense and two interceptions and a forced fumble on defense. Senior running back Jamal Johnson ran 23 times for 140 yards and a pair of scores and also caught a touchdown from Williams.
The prep flag football season came to a close last week with the CIC regional semifinals and championship game. South and Dimond punched their tickets to the title game with double-digit wins over Service and West. In their third matchup of the year after splitting the regular season series, the Lynx captured their third straight championship and 10th in program history with a dominating 27-9 win over the Wolverines. Junior Maile Wilcox scored a pair of touchdowns with the first coming through the air on a running back option and then on defense via an interception she returned for a short touchdown. Senior quarterback Kali Hibbert scored Dimond’s other two touchdowns on a two-yard run and a pass to fellow senior Lauren Tufaga.
The West High riflery team defeated Chugiak at home Friday. Captain Mary Kim led the Eagles with a score of 281-13x while Dawson Schwan of the Mustangs recorded the same score. Chugiak earned the A-team win for two points, West won both the B and C team bouts for four total points. The Eagles finished with a higher combined total of the A, B and C teams to earn an additional point.
The Dimond riflery team defeated East 7-0 on the same night. The Lynx were led by Kolter Kalt’s personal best of 291-18x and a perfect score in the prone position while the Thunderbirds were led by Samuel Woolley with a score of 257.
The Eagle River riflery team defeated Service to remain undefeated. Isabelle Greidanus led the Wolves to victory with a score of 289-17x, and John Eby led the Cougars with a team-high of 281-10x.
The South High varsity volleyball team was able to get back in the win column for the first time in a long time with its 3-1 victory over Eagle River. The Wolverines weren’t even the biggest winners of their annual Dig Pink Night. That distinction belonged to an ongoing fight against breast cancer, according to head coach Amy Mestas. The program’s boosters not only raised awareness, but a grand total of $10,847.75 for the Dig Pink Foundation that donates all proceeds to the Side Out Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports metastatic breast cancer research. The amount included an impressive $1,370.75 that was collected in a “Miracle Minute” held during the school day.
One week after upsetting top-ranked Dimond on their home court, the Colony varsity volleyball team suffered a stunning defeat of its own on the road. The West High Eagles went the distance with the Knights before ultimately prevailing 3-2 last Monday.
On the college volleyball scene, UAA improved its overall record to 21-1 and remained undefeated in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play by completing regular-season sweeps of Seattle Pacific University and Montana State-Billings within a 72-hour period. Seawolves star senior Ellen Floyd had strong showings in both matches and with the five serving aces she recorded against the Yellowjackets, she brought her career total to 200 and broke the conference career record that Central Washington’s Erin Norris set 2006-09.
The UAA hockey team got back on track after dropping three straight games with a clean sweep of UNLV in a two-game series this past weekend. They snapped the losing streak with an 8-0 win over the Rebels on Friday night in which they scored the most goals they’ve recorded in a game since 2014. The Seawolves completed the sweep with a 2-1 victory Saturday.
Last week’s results
Juneau 39, East 6
Bartlett 46, Colony 33
Lathrop 21, Soldotna 18
Homer 22, Houston 20
Dimond 14, West 0
South 25, Service 13
Dimond 27, South 9
Dimond v East
Boys: Dimond 133, East 35
Girls: Dimond 131, East 31
Service v Bartlett
Boys: Service 134, Bartlett 19
Girls: Service 126, Bartlett 20
West 3, Colony 2 (18-25, 25-17, 25-20, 22-25, 15-9)
Dimond 3, Wasilla 1 (34-32, 25-17, 9-25, 25-17)
South 3, Eagle River 1 (25-27, 25-18, 25-11, 25-9)
South 3, Chugiak 0 (25-16, 25-8, 25-20)
West 3, Service 1 (25-17, 25-27, 25-23, 25-23)
East 3, Eagle River 1 (25-18, 25-22, 21-25, 25-15)
Dimond 3, Bartlett 1 (25-14, 21-25, 25-10, 25-14)
West 5, Chugiak 2
Eagle River 7, Service 0
Dimond 7, East 0
UAA 3, SPU 0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-13)
UAA 3, Montana State Billings 0 (25-16, 25-7, 25-19)
UAA 8, UNLV 0
UAA 2, UNLV 1
Three things to watch for this week
Colony v Juneau, 6:30 p.m. Friday
The Division I Alaska state title game will feature another regular-season rematch and a second-straight opportunity for the Knights to avenge another lopsided defeat. The Huskies handed Colony their first loss of the season and dropped them from the ranks of the unbeaten in embarrassing fashion in Week 4 on Sept. 2 by the score of 42-13. With both teams coming off impressive wins in the semifinals, the championship game shouldn’t disappoint although Juneau will likely be heavily favored this time around.
The 2022 high school wrestling season gets underway this week with the first round of dual meets. There will be three duals held on Wednesday at 6 p.m. around the city, including Service at Dimond, West at Chugiak and East at Eagle River. On Saturday, reigning Division I state champion Colony and every team in the CIC with the exception of state runner-up South will take part in the West Duals Tournament.
Janesville Jets at Anchorage Wolverines, 7 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday
For the first time since May 8 when they played their last home game of the Robertson Cup playoffs, the 2022 runner-ups will play in front of their home fans at Ben Boeke Ice Arena. The Wolverines will host the Jets for a two-game series Friday and Saturday.