Rumors of Nikiski's demise may have been greatly exaggerated.
The Bulldogs, missing 22 seniors from last season, opened the 2002 campaign with a 37-21 Great Land Conference victory at Houston Saturday.
Nikiski is the two-time defending small-schools state champion, but the Bulldogs lost 22 seniors from last year's team and had just two returning starters on this year's squad.
What's more, the coaching staff underwent a bit of a shuffle when Scott Anderson stepped down from the head position. Lee Moore, the defensive coordinator, moved up to the head spot while Anderson stayed at his old spot of offensive coordinator.
Friday, the Bulldogs didn't miss a beat despite the changes, getting a big conference victory to open their season.
Senior running back Josh Winters keyed Nikiski's attack with 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Winters started for Nikiski as a sophomore, but then did not play football his junior year.
Friday, with scoring jaunts of 25 and 12 yards, he flashed his talents again and made one shudder thinking about what he could have added to last year's team.
Also getting in on the scoring for the Bulldogs were Louis Oliva on a 9-yard pass from quarterback Travis McGahan and Billy Anderson on a 7-yard run and a 5-yard run. Anderson finished with 93 yards rushing for the Bulldogs.
Nikiski, which steamrolled to 322 yards on the ground and held Houston to 141 yards total offense, had a 21-13 lead at halftime and expanded that lead to 29-13 after three quarters.
BULLDOGS 37, HAWKS 21
Nikiski 7 14 8 8 --37
Houston 7 6 0 8 --21
Nik -- Oliva 9 pass from McGahan (Winters kick), 7:36
Hou -- Richey 14 pass from Clemens (Richey kick), 0:45
Nik -- Winters 25 run (kick failed), 10:47
Hou -- Richey 37 pass from Clemens (kick blocked), 9:42
Nik -- Anderson 7 run (Winters run), 6:00
Nik -- Winters 12 run (Winters run), 7:48
Nik -- Anderson 5 run (Winters run), 11:26
Hou -- Harvey 11 run (Veit pass from Clemens), 0:04
First downs 25 12
Rushes-yards 56-322 35-129
Passing yards 21 138
Return yards 41 64
Passes 2-8-0 8-19-0
Punts 3-31 4-32.5
Fumbles-lost 2-1 5-0
Penalties-yards 5-30 10-74
Rushing -- Nikiski: Winters 25-154, Anderson 19-93, McGahan 7-92, Tumbaga 1-0, Womack 1-(-1), Russell 1-(-7), Landford 2-(-9). Houston: Clemens 20-79, Martinson 8-22, Smith 5-8, Harvey 1-11, Berry 1-(-1).
Passing -- Nikiski: McGahan 2-8-0-21. Houston: Clemens 8-19-0-138.
Receiving -- Nikiski: Gerke 1-11, Oliva 1-9. Houston: Richey 5-78, Sandidge 1-23, Redford 1-23, Veit 1-14.
Eielson 49, Skyview 0
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The statistic sheet reflected little to nothing in the way of offensive ventures or gains for the Skyview High School Panthers' season opener against Eielson High School in Fairbanks Saturday. The Ravens defeated the Panthers 49-0.
Skyview received individual performances from senior Mike Waer, who had eight carries for 30 yards, junior Brandon Cleveland, who had five carries for 12 yards, senior Trevor Tompkins who carried twice for 23 yards, and senior Lukas Fellman, who logged four carries for 19 yards.
Senior quarterback Justin Rainwater threw the ball 10 times with one pick and only one completion for 12 yards.
RAVENS 49, PANTHERS 0
Eielson 7 14 14 14 --49
Houston 0 0 0 0 --0
Eie -- Ecthinaw 18-yard touchdown reception from Skinner (Broussard kick), 8:43.
Eie -- Badger 4-yard tohdown run (kick fails), 4:11. Eie -- Skinner 11-yard touchdown run (Badger conversion run), 7:25.
Eie -- Stokes 1-yard touchdown run (Broussard kick), 6:04. Eie -- Rogers 25-yard touchdown run (Broussard kick), 7:12.
Eie -- Badger 20-yard touchdown run (Broussard kick), 1:18. Eie -- Rogers 23-yard touchdown reception from Skinner (Broussard kick), 11:33.
First downs 19 8
Rushes-yards 41-317 34-120
Passing yards 65 12
Passes 3-12-2 1-10-1
Punts 5-10 11-46
Penalties-yards 7-55 5-25
Rushing -- Eielson: Rogers 16-166, Badger 15-113, Stokes 4-9, Skinner 3-24, Hurlburt 3-5. Skyview: Waer 8-30, Cleveland 5-12, Tompkins 2-23, Fellman 4-19.
Passing -- Eileson: McGahan 2-8-0-21. Houston: Clemens 8-19-0-138.
Receiving -- Nikiski: Skinner 3-12-2-65. Skyview: Rainwater 1-10-1-12.
Homer 46, ACS 20
The Mariners opened up nonconference play with a victory over the Lions Saturday. No statistics were available as the Clarion went to press.
Juneau-Douglas 8, Kenai Central 6
Crimson Bears quarterback Chad Dubois hit receiver Ernest Monts with an 87-yard touchdown pass with 1:03 left to lift host Juneau to the nonconference victory Saturday night. The play came on fourth-and-15.
The Kardinals took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter when quarterback Michael Tunseth hit Dakota Craig for an 18-yard scoring strike.
That lead held until the fourth quarter, when Kenai took an intentional safety to avoid giving Juneau excellent field position. The ploy appeared to have worked until Dubois and Monts dropped the bomb on the Kardinals.
The game ended late Saturday night, so no statistics were available. They will be available in Monday's Clarion.
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