The Juneau Douglas Crimson Bears football team narrowly won a defensive battle in their first playoff game Saturday, edging the East Anchorage Thunderbirds 7-6 at Adair-Kennedy Field.
With all-state senior starting quarterback Philip Fenumiai sidelined with a leg injury, the Bears were forced to turn to freshman backup Brady Mallinger.
Head Coach Rich Sjoroos kept the offense simple for Mallinger, sticking to the ground for most of the game. The Crimson Bears only touchdown came on a two-yard run by Lah Fafita in the first quarter. Adam Soto kicked what would prove to be the decisive extra point.
East scored its only touchdown in the second quarter on an eleven yard pass from quarterback Jesse Vanilau to Tyler Rowles. But the extra point failed.
Both teams sputtered offensively in a scoreless second half.
The Crimson Bears take on top-ranked Service next Saturday in the semifinals of the state’s large-school division. The undefeated Cougars got a scare from the Palmer Moose in their opening round playoff game Saturday. Service needed a late touchdown run from quarterback Amu Aukusitino, and a game clinching interception from Alan Busey to squeak past Palmer, 34-32.
South Anchorage will take on West in the other semifinal matchup.
Meanwhile, an injury-plagued season is over for Thunder Mountain.
The Falcons lost their opening round playoff game to Homer Friday night 46-6 in front of a home crowd. It was the first time Thunder Mountain had hosted a playoff game. Unfortunately it came against the Mariners, who earlier this season trounced the Falcons 84-20.
The score was closer this time, but the result was the same. Thunder Mountain’s only touchdown came in the second quarter when quarterback Camden Thomas hit Ben Jahn for a 15-yard scoring strike. A two-point conversion attempt failed.
Homer running back Dyllan Day had three touchdowns for the Mariners, who will take on Kenai next Saturday in the inaugural championship game for the newly formed medium-school division.