Football crosses over into basketball season
Fullmer returns to take over Chugiak program
Chugiak’s Luke Plumb goes up for a shot during a loss to Palmer in the Doc Larson Classic in Wasilla last month.
STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH
Even the start of a new sports season can’t erase the way Chugiak High’s 2011 football campaign ended.
Chugiak was forced to forfeit three of its wins due to use of an ineligible player and missed the playoffs. But some of those football players are hoping to use what happened this fall as fuel for the 2011-12 basketball season.
“It’s motivation for us football players to exceed in another sport,” senior Steven Puterbaugh said.
Puterbaugh is one of two returners for the Mustangs, and the only one with significant varsity minutes from last year, said head coach Kevin Fullmer.
Senior Wade Snell is the other returner for the Mustangs.
Chugiak missed out on a trip to the state tournament last year, but the Mustangs are hoping to get there this year, Puterbaugh said. The team also wants to improve upon last year’s record, he said.
Hard work will be essential to reach those goals, Puterbaugh said.
Though many are new to varsity, Chugiak is learning at a fast rate, Puterbaugh said.
“We have a lot of stuff that we as a team have to offer this season,” he said.
Prior to the tipoff of the team’s first game, Puterbaugh said he knew Chugiak would be a stronger squad from last season. The tight-knit group is a major factor for that prediction, he said.
“We as a team are more together — even before our first game — than we were last year,” Puterbaugh said. “We all know each other really well.”
Fullmer, a 1981 Chugiak graduate, is back at the helm of Mustangs basketball after a two-year hiatus. Fullmer most recently served as an assistant coach at Bartlett under his brother, Greg, where the siblings won a Class 4A state championship last year.
Fullmer was Chugiak’s head coach from 1996 until 2009. In 2006, he took the Mustangs to the Class 4A title game, which Chugiak lost to West Anchorage.
Fullmer replaces Orin Wear who stepped down after last season to be closer to his family in the Mat-Su Valley.
Chugiak’s many new faces are still adjusting to a new coach, Fullmer said.
“I’m getting used to what my guys can and can’t do,” he said.
The entire roster has a positive mindset, Fullmer said.
“They all want to learn,” he said. “They all have good attitudes.”
The Cook Inlet Conference is sure to draw fierce competition this season, Fullmer said.
“Our conference is the ACC of the state,” he said. “Every game is a dog fight.”
Those conference games will be even more important this season because only the top two CIC teams will earn automatic state berths. Other automatic Class 4A berths include two from the Northern Lights Conference and one from the Southeast and Mid Alaska conferences.
The final two spots will be determined by Winning Percentage Index standings. This is the first time WPI will be used to determine who goes to state.
While Fullmer will miss some aspects of Bartlett, he said, he’s glad to be back at Chugiak.
“They’re good guys to be around,” Fullmer said. “I enjoy coaching them.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org