Skip to main Content
High School Sports

In an opening-night football showstopper, Colony scores late to edge South

  • Author: Matt Nevala
  • Updated: August 11
  • Published August 11

One of the goals when the curtain rises on opening night is to perform at such an action-packed level the audience assuredly comes back for more. After the show put on by Colony and South on Friday night, high school football fans might want to buckle up for more drama in the weeks ahead.

In a final act fit for Broadway, Colony scored 15 fourth-quarter points to kick off its season with an improbable 27-26 victory over the Wolverines at South High. Senior quarterback Eric Christy's run-pass option keeper from six yards out with 41 seconds remaining proved quite the crescendo for Colony.

"Honestly, everything is kind of blur right now," Christy said minutes after scoring the decisive touchdown. "I think I'll have to watch the film to figure out what really just happened."

Let's first rewind just a bit.

South and new head coach Walter Harmon appeared primed to put last season's two-win campaign behind them when junior running back Carson Jungwirth scored on a 3-yard touchdown run with 9:23 left in the fourth quarter. The play gave the Wolverines a 26-15 advantage.

That's when Colony's Julian McPhail stepped into the spotlight. The senior returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown 13 seconds later, cutting the South lead to 26-21.

Colony managed to get the ball at South's 29-yard line with 1:06 remaining. Christy hit McPhail on back-to-back passes to the left sideline, picking up 23 quick yards. On second-and-four, he ran to his right and pump-faked multiple times. Then he made a go of it, launching himself at about the 3-yard line and getting some air before landing in the end zone.

Zane Virvilo and Julian McPhail of Colony force South quarterback Spencer Martin out of bounds. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

Colony managed to get the ball at South's 29-yard line with 1:06 remaining. Christy hit McPhail on back-to-back passes to the left sideline, picking up 23 quick yards. On second-and-four, he ran to his right and pump-faked multiple times. Then he made a go of it, launching himself at about the 3-yard line and getting some air before landing in the end zone.

"The defensive end crashed hard on our running back so I pulled back the ball," Christy said. "I had to try to dive for it, and hoped for the best."

After Colony's two-point conversion attempt failed, kicker Noah Krozel — the state's reigning Gatorade boys soccer player of the year — boomed a touchback into South's end zone. The Wolverines took over with 41 seconds and one timeout remaining.

And they nearly pulled off the monster comeback.

Senior quarterback Spencer Martin, he of 252 passing yards and three touchdowns on 20 completions, completed a pair of quick-hitters before connecting with senior receiver Dorian Mellon on a 44-yard flare down the left sideline. Noah Winsor's 39-yard field goal attempt as time expired fell just short.

Discouraging for the moment, yes. Yet Harmon said the night was far from a total loss.

Keep in mind, Colony finished 7-2 last season and is one of the state's most consistent programs.

"We're poor South, winners of something like three games in the last five seasons," Harmon said. "Who thought we'd go nearly 70 yards in just a few seconds and even have a chance to win that game? We were playing with house money right there.

"But tonight our players showed they're intelligent, confident and ready to keep on improving."

South’s Allen Tadhg pulls in a pass as Colony’s Julian McPhail defends. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

Junior receiver Jayden Heartwell-McKoy meshed well with Martin, grabbing nine balls for a game-high 99 receiving yards. The Wolverines, who face defending Division I state champion Bartlett next week, outgained Colony in total offensive yards, 340-278.

For Colony, Krozel kicked field goals of 27, 28 and 36 yards. Christy finished with 51 rugged rushing yards on 27 carries, and senior running back Zane Vrvilo rushed 14 times for 87 yards.

As first-year head coach Fred McKenney gathered his team in the end zone opposite the one where Christy scored the game-winning touchdown, he shouted "I love Colony football" square in his players' faces.

In unison they screamed it right back at their coach, twice.

"We certainly made our share of mistakes tonight, but in the end we came together as a team," Christy said. "Every one of these guys showed they had heart."

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.

Comments