The Lathrop Malemutes made another statement Friday night by steamrolling the Chugiak Mustangs 56-0 thanks to a five-touchdown performance from senior quarterback Jarren Littell and a dominant defensive effort.
The Malemutes improved to 3-1, a record that includes a historic win over Soldotna three weeks ago when they ended Soldotna’s 22-game winning streak.
Now, they’ve walloped an Anchorage team.
“Offense was clicking, defense got a shutout. It just felt great,” said Littell. “It was a statement game to show the rest of the state that we’re not to be played around with. We should be on everyone’s radar.”
While it was the Mustangs’ homecoming night, the Malemutes looked right at home as they moved the ball at will and kept Chugiak out of the end zone.
The Mustangs dropped to 1-3 in the nonconference game. Chugiak and Lathrop are both Division II teams; Chugiak plays in the Northern Lights Conference and Lathrop plays in the Railbelt Conference.
Littell led Lathrop’s offensive charge by throwing for four touchdowns and rushing for another score. His 1-yard rushing touchdown came on a quarterback draw on third-and-goal when it seemed like the Mustangs were about to complete a goal-line stand.
The Malemutes’ leading receiver was senior Dean Silva, who caught three touchdown passes and nearly had two more. He was tackled a yard shy of the goal line on two other receptions, the first time on Lathrop’s opening possession when his 35-yard catch-and-run set up a 1-yard touchdown. The second came when Littell hit him for a 12-yard gain on a slant route.
“He sees me, I see him,” said Silva. “Anytime I’m open he sees me. His vision is insane.”
The connection between the two seniors was apparent all night long, mirroring an off-the-field relationship that has been strong since they were sophomores.
“We’ve been a duo for about three years now,” said Littell. “We’ve just been learning and growing over every summer together, putting work in and it’s just showing up on the field.”
Silva has had an arduous journey to this point -- he’s played fewer than 10 varsity games his entire high school career.
“Sophomore year I fractured my leg against Soldotna and missed the rest of the season, came back (last year) and COVID really messed us up and limited (me) to three games,” he said.
Littell completed 8 of 13 passes for 216 yards and rushed for 57 yards on six carries. Silva’s five receptions, some of them contested catches, were worth 118 yards.
Leading the Malemutes on defense was senior newcomer Elijah Deans, who scored on a 30-yard interception return by taking advantage of miscommunication between Chugiak quarterback Alex Henderson and his intended receiver. Deans corraled the pass for a near walk-in score.
“I dropped back, I read the quarterback ... and it turned out to be a big play,” he said.
Deans is a native of Virginia who spent a year in Texas before making his first trip to Alaska this summer to visit his mother. He decided to stay for his final year of high school.
“When I got up here the traditions and everything they taught me at Lathrop made me comfortable and made me like the game more,” he said.
Deans also made it into the end zone on offense, scoring the game’s final touchdown on a play that began when he received a handoff to the right. When he couldn’t find a hole to run through, he reversed field and followed a convoy of blockers to the left front pylon for a 22-yard score.
“My coach always tells me to follow my blockers,” Deans said. “I went that way (right), I saw somebody go that way (left), so I changed my whole direction and got the touchdown.”