The Service Cougars were the visitors Saturday night at Bartlett High, but it was the Golden Bears who were sent home packing after getting shut out for the second consecutive week.
Service’s 55-0 victory in the nonconference football game tells the story of two teams headed in different directions. A year ago, Bartlett steamrolled Service 70-32 in the first round of the Division I playoffs.
“Last year we played Bartlett here in the playoffs and we got spanked,” Service senior linebacker Connor O’Farrell said. “We lost big time, so we came back, fixed a few things, tightened up our defense and took it to them this time.”
Two games into the season, the Cougars have put together a pair of impressive wins and their offense has been potent and explosive.
Over the same span, the Golden Bears have not scored a single point and haven’t been able to stop either of their opponents from scoring.
“We just got to get better,” Bartlett coach Daniel Esparza said. “(We’ve) got to get back to practice and get better and get healthy. We had a lot of guys get banged up the last couple days so we just got to get healthy and get back to the drawing board.”
The Cougars, who were 4-5 last season under first-year coach Kahlil Bolling, looked polished on the offensive side of the ball, and their defense came to play too.
“Last week we struggled a little bit with our defense in the first half,” O’Farrell said. “We went into the locker room, cleaned up a bit and we focused on alignment this week. Everyone was aligned correctly and that’s how we got a 55-0 win.”
Service’s dominated the line of scrimmage against undersized units for the Golden Bears. The offensive line opened wide lanes for the Cougars’ running backs, and the defensive line consistently got penetration and got plays in the backfield from their linebackers all game long.
“This game was a huge game for us linebackers and the defensive line,” O’Farrell said. “The line’s job was to keep my linebackers clean, and they did a really good job of that so we could flow and make tackles.”
With its 0-2 start, Bartlett has already matched its loss total from a year ago when it finished 8-2 and was undefeated in Chugach Conference play. Esparza cited a lack of experienced upperclassmen and a rash of injuries as reasons for the early struggles this year.
“We had 38 seniors,” Esparza said of last year’s group. “We’re just young and trying to figure it out, trying to figure football out and win games. Sometimes there are some growing pains, but we have a good team here and we’ll get it going in the next couple of weeks.”
Service’s running backs picked up big chunks of yards nearly every time they ran the ball, often refusing to go down on first contact. Senior Ryan Williams, in particular, gashed the Bartlett defense using a blend of power and elusiveness, and Service’s up-tempo style caught Bartlett by surprise a few times.
“We try to go fast and push the ball, we always try to get the defense non-ready,” O’Farrell said. “They got a couple flags for 12 men on the field or (they weren’t) ready, and that’s the key to our success.”
Week 2 high school football scores
Cesar Chavez (Arizona) 53, East 0
Chugiak 56, Kodiak 0
Houston 18, Eagle River 14
Juneau 56, Antelope Union (Arizona) 18
Palmer 37, Dimond 15
Service 55, Bartlett 0
South 38, Colony 7
Valdez 32, Seward 6
Wasilla 28, North Pole 12
West 21, Lathrop 14
Eielson at Kenai Central, canceled
Homer at Redington, canceled
Soldotna at West Valley, canceled
Nikiski at Monroe, canceled
(Barrow and Ketchikan were idle this week)