No. 1 Chugiak claims Railbelt title with 44-25 win over No. 2 Colony
Chugiak turned a highly anticipated showdown into just another romp as the No. 1 ranked Mustangs galloped to a 44-25 win over No. 2 Colony to win the Railbelt Conference and complete an undefeated regular season.
“This feels amazing, especially on our home field,” said Chugiak’s Ramal Maad, who ran for 59 yards and two touchdowns as the Mustangs secured the top seed in the Division I state playoffs, which start a week from Friday.
The game was played in front of a raucous crowd, with fans filling Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium on a busy night at Chugiak High that also saw the school host volleyball matches, a gymnastics meet and an elementary school cross country running race.
Derryk Snell scored four times for Chugiak, which entered the game as the state’s top team in the most recent statewide media poll and will host the No. 4 seed from the Cook Inlet Conference in the first round of the Alaska Division I playoffs next weekend.
Snell said the big Thursday night game — which was televised live — was a fun one to be a part of.
“I liked it, it was a great atmosphere,” said Snell, who ran for 69 yards on 15 carries and caught eight passes for 183 yards.
The Mustangs thoroughly dominated the Knights, who also entered the Thursday night showdown undefeated. Chugiak racked up a 462-117 advantage in yards gained and ran twice as many plays as Knights, who finished the regular season 7-1 overall and 3-1 in the Railbelt.
For the second time this season, Chugiak scored on its first play from scrimmage — and for the second time it was a long pass to Snell, who hauled in a 45-yard strike from Hunter Harr after Chugiak’s defense forced a three-and-out on Colony’s opening drive.
The Mustangs were rolling after a 3-yard Maad scamper made it 13-0 with 2:16 left in the first, but Colony showed its first signs of life when Oliver Wyche took the ensuing kickoff 89 yards to the house to cut the lead to 13-7.
Unfortunately for the Knights, Wyche’s score meant Chugiak got to go right back to work on offense — and that’s exactly what they did, pushing the lead to 20-7 with a 7-play, 75-yard drive that took just 2:07 off the clock and ended with a 35-yard Snell touchdown run.
A Matt Davis fumble recovery led to Chugiak’s next score, a 7-yard touchdown pass from Harr, who hit Snell with a perfect back-shoulder throw in the front of the end zone to take a 20-point lead midway through the second quarter.
Davis and the Chugiak defense were smothering all night, holding the Knights to just six first downs and keeping Colony without a completed pass.
“The defense played absolutely great,” said Chugiak head coach Roger Spackman, whose team won its second Railbelt title in as many seasons in the league.
Colony took a bit of wind out of Chugiak’s sails before the end of the first half, getting 10 points off turnovers in the closing minutes of the second quarter. The sloppiness started when Julian McPhail intercepted a Harr pass and bolted 49 yards for a touchdown with 5:42 to go, then continued when the Knights converted a Chugiak fumble deep inside Mustangs’ territory into a late 30-yard Krozel field goal that made it 27-17 at the half.
Despite leading by just 10 points, Chugiak thoroughly dominated the opening half, outgaining the Knights by more than 200 yards while forcing four punts, a lost fumble and a field goal try on Colony’s six offensive possessions.
The second half was a repeat of the first — minus the Chugiak miscues. Maad got things started with a 19-yard scoring sprint behind the blocking of his dominant offensive line and Snell, who took out two Colony defensive backs on the play to open up room for Maad to break free.
Chugiak then used a bit of razzle-dazzle to essentially put the game out of reach as the third quarter came to a close, with Maad taking the handoff from Harr and throwing a 40-yard bomb to Snell, who laid out to catch what appeared to everyone — Maad included — to be an overthrown ball.
“That’s Derryk Snell,” said Maad, who ran for 59 yards on seven carries.
The long pass set up Snell’s final score of the game, a 4-yard rumble that made it 41-17 Mustangs.
Chugiak’s special teams pushed the lead to 44-17 when Jacob Oshesky’s recovery of a pooch kickoff led to a 29-yard Thomas Sitz field goal with 8:42 left in the game.
Eric Christy added an 8-yard touchdown run for the Knights to provide the game’s final score.
Snell’s four touchdowns gave him 31 for the season, keeping him just shy of the pace set by North Pole’s Perry Monzulla, who scored a state record 44 touchdowns in 11 games in 2004.
“He’s unreal,” said Spackman of Snell, who won the Railbelt and Alaska Offensive Player of the Year awards last season as a junior.
Snell was the leader of a balanced offensive attack that got at least 37 rushing yards from five different players. Austin Harr piled up 53 yards on 13 bruising carries, Hunter Harr had 40 yards on eight runs and Tyler Huffer reeled off 37 yards on just five carries. Hunter Harr again led an efficient, deadly air attack, completing 10 of his 16 pass attempts for 158 yards and two scores.
Chugiak has outscored its opponents by an average 29.9 points per game this season and hasn’t won a game by fewer than 13 points. The Mustangs are averaging 41.9 points per game, while giving up just 12 points per contest.
But despite the dominance, the Mustangs (8-0 overall, 4-0 Railbelt) know how fickle the playoffs can be. After defeating the Knights to win the Railbelt title last season, Chugiak found itself on the outside looking in after suffering a first-round loss to Service.
“We’ve just got to focus on next week,” said Snell.
Chugiak won’t know who it’ll play in the playoffs until after this weekend’s games, but Maad said whoever the Mustangs, Chugiak will be itching to erase the memory of last year’s first-round loss.
“That’s going to fuel us,” he said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated by one the number of touchdowns Snell has scored this season.
MUSTANGS 44, KNIGHTS 25
Chugiak 13 14 14 3 — 44
Colony 7 10 0 8 — 25
Chu — Derryk Snell 45 pass from Hunter Harr (Thomas Sitz kick), 10:19
Chu — Ramal Maad 3 run (kick missed), 2:16
Col — Oliver Wyche 89 kickoff return (Noah Krozel kick), 1:59
Chu — Snell 35 run (Sitz kick), 11:45
Chu — Snell 7 pass from H. Harr (Sitz kick), 7:51
Col — Julian McPhail 49 interception return (Krozel kick), 5:42
Col — Krozel 35 field goal, :23.2
Chu — Maad 19 run (Sitz kick), 4:00
Chu — Snell 4 run (Sitz kick), :37.9
Chu — Sitz 29 field goal, 8:42
Col — Eric Christy 8 run (Parker Kizer run), 5:44
First downs 21 6
Rushes-yards 53-264 35-117
Passing yards 198 0
Comp-att-int 11-17-1 0-5-0
Fumbles-lost 3-1 2-1
Punts-avg. 1-29.0 5-32.8
Return yards 31 138
Penalties-yards 10-78 11-63
RUSHING — Chugiak: Snell 15-69, Maad 7-59, A. Harr 13-53, H. Harr 8-40, Tyler Huffer 5-37, Chase Wedel 3-4, Aaron Tomasoulo 2-2. Colony: Eric Christy 8-48, Kaiden Jimenez 12-39, Jake Hessinger 7-18, Parker Kizer 6-7, Haeden Leavitt 1-4, Julian McPhail 1-1.
PASSING — Chugiak: H. Harr 10-16-1—158, Maad 1-1-0—40. Colony: Christy 0-4-0—0.
RECEIVING: Chugiak: Snell 8-183, Ty Carlos 1-12, Maad 1-6, A. Harr 1-(-3).