Kenai's Stuart Stretch runs the ball in the third quarter against Juneau Saturday afternoon.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
With just 17 players in uniform for Saturday’s season opener against Juneau-Douglas, the Kenai Kardinals didn’t look like much of a match for the visiting Crimson Bears.
Chris Hinkley threw for 145 yards and two touchdowns as Juneau rolled to a 39-0 nonconference thumping of the state’s four-time defending small-schools champions.
“They’re a good football team,” Kenai head coach Jim Beeson said following the game.
Kenai was forced to play the game without its star player, junior running back/defensive back Bill Chimphalee. Chimphalee, along with starting lineman Wes Quade and backup Cody Booth, was suspended from the team indefinitely for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.
“We have some adversity and we just have to deal with it,” Beeson said of his team’s disciplinary situation.
Kenai's Dusty Ward gets a pass off under pressure from Juneaus Silver Maake in the second quarter Saturday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Beeson said he does not yet know how long the players’ suspensions will last.
Without Chimphalee to patrol the secondary, Hinkley was able to pick apart the Kenai defense, finding five different receivers in an efficient performance.
Juneau appeared to score on the first play from scrimmage, but had a 71-yard strike from Hinkley to Daryl Lew was called back on a penalty.
The Crimson Bears got on the board late in the first quarter on an impressive 95-yard, 10-play drive capped by a 14-yard swing pass from Hinkley to Alex Robinson. Jesse West’s kick failed, leaving the defending state large-schools champions ahead 6-0.
The first quarter was played fairly close, and Kenai managed its best offensive period of the game, picking up 30 yards of offense and a couple first downs.
Kenai got a bit of hope in the second quarter when defensive back Josh Werba snared Hinkley’s throw and gave the Kardinals the ball in Juneau territory.
Werba was a bright spot for the Kenai defense, coming up with a number of hard hits out of the defensive backfield.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Stuart Stretch busted up the middle of the Juneau defense for an 11-yard run down to the Juneau 33.
Unfortunately for Kenai, that would be as close as the Kardinals would get all afternoon. Two negative runs and a fumble forced Kenai to punt the ball away a position they would find themselves in often on the day.
“I thought we came out and played well in the first half,” Beeson said.
Stretch finished the game as Kenai’s leading rusher, grinding out 34 yards on 12 carries. Tyler Smith added 12 rushing yards for Kenai, which was held to just 33 yards of total offense on the day. Juneau finished the afternoon with 274 yards of offense, led by Silver Maake’s 61 yards on the ground and Alex Fagerstrom’s 99 all-purpose yards.
Kenai nearly escaped the first half down by only a touchdown, but a defensive breakdown enabled Hinkley to find a wide-open Fagerstrom for a 46-yard score with just one minute left in the half.
Hinkley who threw for more than 2,000 yards and 36 touchdowns last year said he was happy with how his team looked in its first test since winning last year’s title.
“I’m pretty happy with how this young team came together,” he said. “This was definitely a stepping stone for us.”
Juneau didn’t waste any time stretching its lead out in the second half. After Kenai’s opening drive of the half stalled deep in its own territory, Carlo Ebron took a short punt and scampered 33 yards for Juneau’s third touchdown of the game and a 19-0 lead.
Kenai handed Juneau its fourth score of the game late in the third quarter. A hard hit jarred the ball loose from Kenai running back Tyler Smith, and Zach Heppner recovered the ball on Kenai’s 1-yard line. Hinkley converted the quarterback sneak, and West’s kick gave Juneau a 26-0 advantage.
Nate Wilson and Fagerstrom each added touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to give the Crimson Bears their final margin of victory.
“They’re going to be there again this season,” Beeson said. “They get after it, they play hard and they’re well-coached.”
As for his squad, Beeson said Kenai must find a way to deal with a difficult situation and move forward as the conference season nears.
Next up for the Kardinals is Ketchikan, which is scheduled to visit Kenai Saturday.
Crimson Bears 39, Kardinals 0
Juneau 6 7 13 13 39
Kenai 0 0 0 0 0
Jun Robinson 14 pass from Hinkley (kick failed), 2:25
Jun Fagerstrom 46 pass from Hinkley (West kick), 1:00
Jun Ebron 33 punt return (pass failed), 9:40
Jun Hinkley 1 run (West kick), :30
Jun Wilson 14 run (try failed), 7:11
Jun Fagerstrom 25 run (West kick), 1:56
First downs 9 5
Rushes-yards 25-129 37-26
Passing yards 145 7
Return yards 73 12
Passing 11-19-1 1-6-0
Punts-avg 2-33 8-26.6
Fumbles-lost 1-0 7-3
Penalties-yards 11-70 6-40
Rushing Kenai: Stretch 12-34, Smith 12-12, Gustkey 1-(-9), Ward 12-(-11). Juneau: Maake 9-61, Wilson 7-35, Fagerstrom 4-33, Hinkley 3-0, Owens 1-0, Robinson 1-0.
Passing Kenai: Gustkey 1-4-0-7, Ward 0-2-0-0. Juneau: Hinkley 11-19-1-145. (comp, att, int, yards).
Receiving Kenai: Stretch 1-7. Juneau: Fagerstrom 3-66, Lew 3-28, Robinson 2-27, Ebron 2-17, Maake 1-7.
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