Falcons face Mariners in high school football

The Thunder Mountain Falcons take on the Homer Mariners in Juneau Thursday.

The Alaska high school football season got underway last week. The varsity Mariners beat the Valdez Buccaneers 52 to 14; the Falcons lost to the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears 68 to zero.

Players and coaches say they’ll be ready for tonight’s contest, which is a non-conference game.

TMHS football is just in its third season. Expectations are high, considering the team’s success last year when the Falcons even made the small schools’ division playoffs – losing to Soldotna.

But 13 members of that team graduated. Head coach Bill Byouer says the junior varsity and varsity number about 45 players this season, when everybody’s eligible and healthy.

With only 23 varsity players…

“We’ve been conditioning quite a bit,” Byouer says. “They’re not going to be coming off the field too much. And I’m hoping they survive without getting an injury, and we’ll be good.”

Most of the sophomores have already moved up to the varsity, says Falcons’ JV coach Tom Jollie.

His team scored two touchdowns against the Crimson Bears last week. It was still a lopsided contest at 52 points for JDHS and 12 for TMHS, but Jollie’s freshman development program seems to be working.

“We’ll keep working them and working them. You know physically they’re able to move up, it’s more just learning the technical portions of it,” Jollie says. “I’m not big on the win-loss record at the JV level; I want to see them improve because that means they’re ready to go to the varsity.”

TMHS had hoped to have permanent bleachers this season, but Byouer says a glitch in the contract has delayed them. That means portable uncovered bleachers will have to be set up for each home game.

“They will have those bleachers and everything set up starting in October. So we’re not going to have bleachers out here at the present time besides the portables that we get,” Byouer says.

The Homer Mariners and Thunder Mountain Falcons junior varsity kick off Thursday at 5 o’clock. The varsity squads take the field at 8 p.m.