High School Sports

Jack Nash leads underdog Colony to upset over undefeated Juneau in DI Alaska football championship

high school sports, football, colony, juneau, october

After two unsuccessful attempts at claiming a Division I Alaska prep football state championship in 2000 and 2006, the Colony Knights finally captured their first title in program history Friday.

The Knights capped off one of the most impressive and inspiring postseason runs in recent memory with a 14-7 win over previously undefeated Juneau.

“This is the third time Colony has been there and the last two times we were there, they had the team to beat but sometimes cards don’t go your way,” Colony coach Robbie Nash said. “There were some things that didn’t go our way but my kids never gave up.”

When the top-ranked Juneau Huskies made the trek from the state’s capital city to Palmer during Week 4 of the regular season and handed the Colony Knights a humbling 42-13 defeat on their homecoming night, it turned out to be the best thing for the home team, according to junior quarterback and free safety Jack Nash.

“I’m honestly blessed that we lost so early in the season because it made something click in our heads,” he said. “If we wouldn’t have lost that battle during the season, we wouldn’t have changed our scheme. I’d rather lose early than later.”

high school sports, football, colony, juneau, october

It served as the first of two galvanizing moments of their season from which they learned from. The other was a lopsided loss to Bartlett a few weeks later.

During the playoffs, Colony avenged both of their regular season losses thanks in large part to great adjustments and incredibly clutch plays from Jack Nash and the rest of team’s gifted young core.

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“It’s a good look for our future,” Robbie Nash said. “We thought we’d be a really good team this year and we said ‘Lets go to state’ but these kids continued to amaze me.”

While many expected a high-scoring affair between the two teams with the Huskies favored to prevail, the Knights were able to come out on top in the defensive battle by coming up with more timely stops in crucial situations.

“I knew that it was going to be a dogfight and I knew defense was going to win this game,” Jack Nash said.

Colony forced four turnover on downs, including an amazing goal line stand just before halftime where they kept Juneau from punching the ball into the end zone from three yards out. The Colony run defense was stout Friday, holding Juneau’s top two ball carriers to less than five yards per carry.

high school sports, football, colony, juneau, october

On the offensive side of the ball, Nash and the Knights moved the ball well at times, both on the ground and through the air. Even though they came up short on a couple of drives that resulted in missed field goals, Colony came through with a pair of impressive scoring drives.

The first came in the opening quarter and resulted in the first points of the game. Nash connected with standout junior wide receiver Jayce Underwood, who had gotten behind Juneau’s secondary on a 49-yard bomb to take their first lead of the game.

The Huskies tied the game early in the second quarter at the 10:23 mark and the game would remain knotted for the remainder of the period and the entire third quarter.

It wasn’t until the there were just 17 seconds left on the clock that the final points of the game were scored on a 10-yard Jack Nash run.

“That kid just amazes me sometimes, he really does,” Robbie Nash said. “He didn’t want to be the quarterback and he’s really developed into a quarterback we can count on and to take us all the way to state and win this thing.”

high school sports, football, colony, juneau, october
high school sports, football, colony, juneau, october
high school sports, football, colony, juneau, october

The game-winning drive was first set up and then extended by junior Cole Hamilton. Hamilton forced the Knights’ fourth turnover on downs with his fourth-down sack of Juneau quarterback Jarrell Williams. He then proceeded to make two huge catches for key first downs on the ensuing possession, including a 35-yard catch on third-and-long where he showed excellent concentration after initially bobbling it following a collision with two Juneau defenders.

“I was like ‘Man I got to catch this.’ I was in position, it got tipped up, I snagged that thing and was like ‘I got to do this for my team, this is my moment, I got to shine out,’ ” Hamilton said.

“He’s one of those people that I’ll always trust to come down with the ball,” Jack Nash said. “I threw it up and there was no surprise that he came down with it.”

Finally, he made the block that sprung Nash for the game-winning score on a play to left side of the field where he told his quarterback to follow him to pay dirt before the ball was even snapped.

“I knew it was going to work,” Hamilton said. “We had the wider part of the field and I was like ‘Jack I got this. I’m going to get you this touchdown’.”

high school sports, football, colony, juneau, october

While Jack Nash was the player carried off the field and his father Robbie was the coach who received the ceremonial Gatorade bath during a postgame interview, it was a total team win and triumph not just for the program but the entire Mat-Su community that came out in force to show their support.

“The community was huge behind us,” Robbie Nash said. “Anytime a Valley team comes into Anchorage and especially on this kind of stage, we’re rooting for the Valley.”

high school sports, football, colony, juneau, october

It marked a dream come true for all those involved but it was especially meaningful for the father and son tandem of Robbie and Jack Nash. The Knights’ two-way star had two older brothers come up through the program and never reach this pinnacle. For Jack Nash to be the one to lead a title-winning team brought his family’s football journey full circle in a sense.

“This is everything we ever dreamed of since I was little watching my brothers play under those Friday night lights thinking I was going to be there one day,” Jack Nash said. “I didn’t realize I was ever going to win state. Especially winning Colony’s first state title.”

high school sports, football, colony, juneau, october
high school sports, football, colony, juneau, october
high school sports, football, colony, juneau, october

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

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