Donnie Fry wanted the Eielson Ravens’ defensive players to maintain sanity against the Nikiski Bulldogs in Saturday afternoon’s rematch of last year’s small schools state championship football game.
“With their offense, if you get crazy and start blitzing and shooting (the gaps) a lot, they’ll just run underneath you,’’ Fry, the Ravens defensive coordinator, said. “So basically, gap responsibility and maintain that gap.”
The Ravens, last year’s small schools state champions, also maintained the lead on Saturday in their 34-7 win at Buck Nystrom Field at Eielson High School on Eielson Air Force Base.
The former Greatland Conference rivals — Eielson now plays in the Aurora Conference and Nikiski competes in the Peninsula Conference — were scoreless at the end of the first quarter and tied the game 7 early in the second before the Ravens went ahead for good.
“When you’ve got two wing-T (offense) teams, you kind of know what gives each other trouble,’’ said Ravens head coach David DeVaughn. “So it’s trying to figure out what they did to adjust to give us fits. It’s always a chess match.”
Eielson got checkmate to help it improve to 5-1 overall while Nikiski slipped to 4-2.
“We just didn’t play very well — a lot of mental errors and you can’t do that,’’ said Nikiski head coach Ted Riddall.
“You can’t put your offense at second (down) and 15 (yards to go) five to six times in a row,’’ Riddall added. “If you’re not getting positive yards on first down, you’re kind of getting behind the stick.”
Kalib Dunlap, before finishing with 11 carries for a game-high 147 yards and getting sidelined in the third quarter by a knee sprain, provided the contest’s first score with a 4-yard run with 10:49 left in the second quarter.
Bulldogs quarterback Dennis Anderson lined a high 23-yard pass to Dylan Broussard to make it 7-7 with 5:27 left.
Eielson seized the lead for good with quarterback Antonio Griffith’s 4-yard burst with 1:57 before halftime.
Andrew North garnered 76 of his 79 yards on Saturday in the second half, starting with a 12-yard dash that put Eielson up 20-7 with 9:07 left in the third quarter.
With 11:46 left in the fourth quarter, North stretched the lead to 27-7 by breaking two tackles and peeling off a 64-yard run.
“When we run that (wing-T) offense, it’s not about the one guy but it’s about those five guys up front doing what they’re supposed to be doing at the time,’’ DeVaughn said of the Ravens’ offensive line. “When they do their job, we look really good.”
Eielson’s long-run derby continued with a 71-yard sprint by Caleb Velez with 3:23 left for the game’s final touchdown.
“They got down, drove them and (holes) just opened real wide. It was nice,’’ Velez, who contributed 142 yards on 18 carries, said of Eielson’s offensive line.
Tackle Matt Gustafson aided the Ravens’ defense with one solo sack and two sack assists.
Gustafson said that a teammate on the sideline told the Ravens defense that the Bulldogs offense was doing its snap counts once it got to the line.
“As soon as that happened, we were able to get off the ball faster than them, and we were able to get back there and make plays,’’ Gustafson said.
Broussard led the Bulldogs rushers with 46 yards from five carries and the senior tight end had two receptions for 27 yards. Anderson threw 43 yards on five of 12 attempts and he ran for 33 yards on 23 carries.
Homer 66, Redington 0
The host Homer football team rolled to a 66-0 victory over Redington Sr. junior varsity Friday night in nonconference play.
This is the first year that Redington Sr. is open, and the school only enrolls underclassmen thus far, so the mismatch that was possible ended up happening as the Mariners improved to 2-4 overall.
Homer ended any suspense early by taking a 37-0 lead after one quarter and a 51-0 lead at halftime.
Michael Swoboda started the game with a 78-yard kickoff return for Homer. Josh Fisk and Teddy Croft then followed with long touchdown runs before Fisk returned a punt 58 yards for a touchdown and capped the quarter with another touchdown run.
In the second quarter, Jaime Rios threw a touchdown pass to Jack Heimbold and Kyle Wells ran for a touchdown.
Rios ran for a touchdown in the third quarter, while Hunter Patton ran for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Homer ended the game with 306 yards of offense to Redington’s 99.
Seward 50, Voznesenka 6
The host Seahawks notched a Peninsula Conference victory over the Cougars on Friday.
Seward improved to 2-1 in the league and 2-4 overall, while Voznesenka dropped 0-3 and 0-5.
Mariners 66, Huskies 0
Redington 0 0 0 0 —0
Homer 37 14 7 8 —66
Hom — Swoboda 78 kickoff return (Swoboda kick).
Hom — Fish 44 run (conversion failed).
Hom — Croft 38 run (Stephens run).
Hom — Fisk 58 punt return (Swoboda run).
Hom — Fisk 27 run (Croft pass from Swoboda).
Hom — Heimbold 19 pass from Rios (Wells run).
Hom — Wells 8 run (conversion failed).
Hom — Rios 2 run (Swoboda kick).
Hom — Patton 11 run (Wells pass from Rios).
First downs 5 14
Rushes-yards 40-80 29-252
Passing yards 19 54
Comp-att-int 2-4-0 2-7-0
Return yards 0 123
Punts 5-25.4 0-0
Fumbles 2-0 6-5
Penalties 2-10 2-20
Rushing — Redington: Reed 19-(-7), Hal 12-83, Pike 9-4. Homer: Rios 11-27, Croft 1-38, Wells 4-14, Heimbold 5-48, Stephens 2-9, Fisk 2-71, Patton 4-45.
Passing — Redington: Reed 2-4-0—19. Homer: Rios 1-6-0—19, Croft 1-1-0—35.
Receiving — Redington: Amirault 2-19. Homer: Heimbold 1-19, Swoboda 1-35.