The casual observer might have, after seeing a first-year Sitka team on the Nikiski High School football squad's schedule, penciled the Bulldogs in for an easy win in week two of the prep season.
Nikiski coach Scott Anderson didn't need to see Sitka's 39-7 win over Seward last weekend to know better.
"They've had football for several years down there," Anderson said earlier this week. "They have a large student population, and we knew they would have a good team.
"They have a big, physical team. If you look at them coming out on the field, they almost look like a small college team."
Sitka (1-0) and Nikiski (1-0) are scheduled to kick off at Nikiski Saturday at 2 p.m. Kenai (0-1) hosts another Southeast team, the Ketchikan Kings (0-1), Friday at 7 p.m. while Seward (0-1) visits Skyview (0-1), also at 7 p.m.
Homer is off this weekend and Soldotna (0-1) travels to Anchorage Saturday to face the Service (0-1) team that bumped the Stars from the opening round of the 1999 state playoffs at 6 p.m.
Nikiski won in week one, downing Houston 28-7 in a Great Land Conference matchup, putting the Bulldogs and Sitka tied atop the GLC standings.
Sitka and Nikiski put up similar numbers last week -- the Wolves ran for 160 yards and threw for 185, a total of 345 yards, while the Bulldogs ran for 236 and threw for 106, totaling 342 yards.
"It'll definitely be a game worth watching," Anderson said. "There's going to be some fireworks. I'm expecting a lot of offense."
Anderson said he was pleased with his team's performance against Houston, particularly with his underclassman who were able to step up and contribute at the varsity level.
"A lot of young kids are coming through for us," Anderson said. "Corey Grimm and Chris Pepper have been playing well on the offensive line, and a lot of that is because of good leadership from Seth Tauriainen and Gabe Lavigueur."
Anderson has been excited about the linebacking efforts of Chris Roofe and Neil Fucci as well.
Anderson said that the community has been a very good host to the Sitka team, which has been bunking in the Nikiski gym this week, as several churches organized dinners for the players and a barbecue is being planned for both teams this evening.
"I'm really excited to see Sitka, ACS and Ketchikan commit to high school football," Anderson said. "It's our job as coaches from the rest of the state to help them out as best we can."
Kenai and Ketchikan will be looking for their first wins of the season when they square off Friday at Ed Hollier Field.
The Kardinals visited Eielson a week ago for a non-conference game and lost by a touchdown in overtime while the Kings lost their inaugural Northern Lights Conference game at Homer.
Jeff Jackson led the Kardinals offense with 61 yards on 15 carries, scoring both Kenai touchdowns, but Kenai coach Jim Beeson would like to see his team take care of the little things that prevented them from winning at Eielson.
"Hopefully, we'll get a little better and win a football game," Beeson said. "They're a bigger team than us, but they don't have the numbers we do, so everybody should be playing all the time. It could come down to which team is in better shape."
Geoff Nordlund was Ketchikan's top offensive threat against Homer, carrying the ball 16 times for 97 yards.
The Skyview Panthers will look to find some bigger holes to run through when they take on the Seward Seahawks in a non-conference game.
A week ago, the Panthers were held to 12 yards on 31 carries. The Seahawks, likewise, were stymied by the Sitka defense, rushing for 19 yards on 27 carries.
Both Soldotna and Service opened the season with losses to teams from Mat-Su last week. While the Stars were edged by Wasilla, Service, the defending state champion, lost by three to Colony.
"I'm hoping we come out a little more confident," Soldotna coach Rob Dimick said. "We started out a little timid against Wasilla. In the second half, we realized we could play with them."
Sean Kelley led the Stars on the ground, picking up 36 yards, and quarterback Pat Rose threw for 68 yards, including a scoring strike to Shaun Williams during Soldotna's late rally.
Dimick said that speed and effort are the Stars' strengths right now, but some injuries along the line could play a role in Saturday's game.
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