Through the first four weeks of the season, all three of the top-ranked Juneau Huskies’ victories came on their home turf. Their lone loss came on their first road trip.
Their second road trip ended in triumph Saturday afternoon when Juneau trounced the Service Cougars 49-12 in a Cook Inlet Conference game at Service High.
“The message was win by one point,” said Huskies senior quarterback Noah Chambers. “It doesn’t matter if you win by a lot or a little, if you win your standings go up and you get a better seeding (in the playoffs). That’s what we’re focused on right now.”
The Huskies won by a lot more than one point to improve to 4-1 while dropping Service to 1-4 on the year and 1-3 in the CIC.
The Huskies were coming off a huge win over previously top-ranked East and were powered by a passing attack that was explosive in limited opportunities and a defense that dominated.
“We’ve been talking as a team just trying to find the formula to get us a win on the road,” said Juneau coach Rich Sjoroos. “Defense did a great job setting the tone and we did enough on offense to put some points on the board. I thought it all came together.”
Chambers was at the helm of the offense and finished 7-of-15 for 133 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
“I love airing it out,” he said. “We run a run-heavy offense but when we have opportunities to throw, I love to take advantage of them.”
Chambers’ most impressive throw came when he hit senior wide receiver James Connally in stride for a 43-yard strike late in the third quarter. Connally had a step on the nearest defender and once Chambers delivered the pinpoint pass, Connally dashed to the end zone to put the Huskies up 35-6.
“There’s no better feeling than hitting your receiver in the hands and seeing them off to the races,” said Chambers.
Juneau’s defense wasn’t able to hold Service scoreless, but it generated as many points as the Cougars, thanks to two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.
The first came from senior safety Wallace Adams, who high-pointed an overthrown lofted pass by Service quarterback Coen Niclai over the middle of the field and then tight-roped the left sideline all the way to the end zone.
“To highpoint and read the quarterback’s eyes, it all came from my coaches, so I got to give my thanks to them,” said Adams.
Juneau’s second defensive touchdown came in the final minutes with victory well in hand. Senior linebacker Kadin Messmer undercut a route from Niclai to his intended receiver and ran the ball back 40 yards in the opposite direction. He made quite a few nifty jukes and cuts and even broke a few tackles on his way in for the score.
Adams reeled in a second interception with 29 seconds left in the game to thwart Service’s last chance to put more points on the board. His range and ball skills as safety have been at an elite level dating back to his sophomore season, Sjoroos said.
“Two years ago, as a sophomore, he had an interception in every game he played,” the coach said. “Last year we don’t get a season because of the events of the world but then he comes back this year and has an interception in every game until last week, but he made up for it today with two.”
The Huskies head home knowing their quest for a state title is far from over. They expect every opponent to come at them hard.
“We definitely have a target on our head after beating East,” said Chambers. “If we show up like this every game, I think we have a good chance at going far in this tournament.”