Chugiak football dominates second half to win season debut
Reigning Alaska Large Schools Offensive Player of the Year Derryk Snell picked up right were he left off Friday night, scoring a touchdown on his first touch of the season and finding the end zone twice more to lead Chugiak to a 20-6 nonconference high school football win over East at East High.
After forcing East to punt on its first possession, the Mustangs needed just six plays to cover 46 yards on their opening drive, taking a 7-0 lead on Snell’s 12-yard burst to the outside.
“That’s All-State material right there,” said East coach Jeff Trotter, whose team has seen massive turnover since it beat West 13-7 in the 2016 Large Schools (now called Division 1) championship game last October.
The defending champs cut the lead to 7-6 on their next possession thanks to a weaving 4-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jasun Duston.
That’s how things stood at the end of a dreary first half at East, where the rain didn’t stop until moments after the final whistle.
The slippery conditions made for a sloppy game by both teams, with each turning the ball over three times in a contest that saw 10 fumbles and 23 penalties.
Chugiak took control in the second half thanks to a couple big plays by Snell and a smothering performance by the defense, which gave up just 79 yards in the second half and 196 for the game.
It was a defensive stand that turned the momentum the Mustangs’ way for good late in a back-and-forth third quarter. With Chugiak clinging to its one-point lead, East marched down inside the 10-yard-line, setting up first-and-goal from the seven. But on first down, Duston was forced to take a long sack when the snap sailed over his head — one of nine Chugiak tackles for loss in the game. The T-birds’ drive stalled out there, with Chugiak’s defensive backs coming up big to thwart a pair of passes toward the end zone.
“We have lots of things to improve on but I just love the fact we hung in there mentally,” said Chugiak coach Roger Spackman, who coached East for nine seasons and spent three more as the school’s flag football coach before coming to Chugiak in 2014. “We made some mistakes and put ourselves in some bad situations but the kids hung in there and didn’t let it swamp ‘em. And that’s great.”
The big stand seemed to light the Mustangs’ fuse, and it didn’t take long for the team’s leader to blow things up. On the third play of the ensuing drive, Snell took a perfectly weighted pass from Hunter Harr in the middle of the field, bounced off a couple defenders and held off linebacker Jason Jenn-Lundfelt just long enough to dive to the front pylon for a 73-yard score just before the end of the third quarter.
“It was a great thrown ball and I was just thinking ‘Don’t drop it,’” Snell said.
Thomas Sitz’s extra point try was blocked, making it 13-6 heading into the fourth.
The Mustangs dominated the final quarter, forcing a pair of T-birds turnovers, including a Ramal Maad interception and a Snell fumble recovery. The duo teamed up for Chugiak’s final score, with Maad intercepting a wobbly Duston pass and returning it 18 yards to the 5-yard-line, and Snell finishing things off with a leaping touchdown grab in the front of the end zone to make it 20-6 with 3:43 left.
Snell’s fumble recovery on East’s next drive — his second of the night — effectively ended the game, as Chugiak ran out all but the final eight seconds of clock before punting back to the T-birds, who picked up their only positive yardage of the quarter on a meaningless 19-yard run on the game’s final play.
“He’s probably the best player on our team at five different positions,” Spackman said of Snell, who finished with a game-high 120 yards, including 79 receiving and 41 on the ground.
Trotter said East (0-1 overall, 0-0 Cook Inlet Conference) is rebuilding, with 18 or 19 of his team’s 22 starting positions filled by different players from last season. The Mustangs, meanwhile, entered the game with 17 seniors, were ranked No. 4 in the preseason media poll and are the defending Railbelt Conference champions.
“We knew it was going to be a bit of a battle,” said Trotter.
Harr led the troops well from his quarterback spot, going 3-for-7 with no interceptions and the long touchdown pass. The senior signalcaller also ran for 71 yards on 10 carries for the Mustangs, who got 46 yards on 16 carries from Anthony Jones and spread the ball around between nine different ballcarriers.
The win was a bittersweet one for Spackman, who got emotional as he recalled more than a decade of coaching on the Eastside.
“I spent a big part of my life here and I have a ton of fond memories, so I don’t really like coming back here to be honest with you,” he said. “Coming back here always turns you inside out.”
“I love ‘em, but it’s great to beat ‘em,” he said.
Chugiak (1-0 overall, 0-0 Railbelt Conference) will make its home debut Friday, Aug. 18, when the Mustangs host South in a 7 p.m. nonconference game at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium. Chugiak begins Railbelt Conference play Saturday, Aug. 26 at West Valley.
Snell said getting a big road win right out of the gates felt good, but the Mustangs know there are far bigger games ahead.
“It’s a great accomplishment, but it’s behind us and in the past and we’ve got to focus on next week,” he said.
MUSTANGS 20, T-BIRDS 6
Friday, August 11, 2017
At East High
Chugiak 7 0 6 7 — 20
East 6 0 0 0 — 6
Chu — Derryk Snell 12 run (Thomas Sitz kick), 8:05
East — Jasun Duston 4 run (run failed), 5:16
Chu — Snell 73 pass from Hunter Harr (kick blocked), 0:26
Chu — Snell 5 pass from Hunter Harr (Sitz kick), 3:48
First Downs 15 10
Rushes-yds 43-158 34-152
Passing yards 88 44
Comp-att-int 4-8-0 5-13-1
Punts-avg 4-30.7 6-20.5
Fumbles-lost 6-3 4-2
Penalties-yds 9-75 13-75
Returns-yards 18 0
RUSHING — Chugiak: Hunter Harr 10-71, Anthony Jones 16-46, Derryk Snell 8-41, Ramal Maad 2-19, Austin Harr 3-10, Kenny Sisson 1-3, Chase Wedel 1-(-7), Aaron Tomosoulo 1-(-10), Thomas Sitz 1-(-15). East: Sio Sefo 2-47, Colton Herman 1-26, Julian Baker 2-23, Kalani Medeiros 7-21, Armond Eppenger 8-17, Kapono Medeiros 1-13, Jasun Duston 12-8, D’Shone Smith 1-(-3).
PASSING — Chugiak: Hunter Harr 3-7-0— 87, Aaron Tomosoulo 1-1-0—1. East: Jasun Duston 5-12-1—44; Kapono Medeiros 0-1-0—0.
RECEIVING — Chugiak: Derryk Snell 3-79, Ramal Maad 1-9. East: Sio Sefo 1-13, D’Shone Smith 1-11, Julian Baker 1-10, Orson Fitiausi 1-8, Colton Herman 1-2.