Here's something that should leave more than a few high school football coaches lying awake at night: After drubbing Great Land Conference opponent Houston 51-7 Saturday, the Nikiski High School football team says it still has room for improvement before the end of this season.
"After last game, we just wanted to get better," said Nikiski lineman Gabe Lavigueur. "All week in practice, coaches kept saying that this game would be a good opportunity to get better."
"It was kind of surprising," Nikiski head coach Scott Anderson said of the way the Bulldogs dominated the Hawks. "We came in expecting a close, tight game. Houston's got some good football players."
Instead, the Bulldogs scored on their first four possessions of the game, taking a 28-7 lead after one quarter of play.
Nikiski added a touchdown and a field goal in the second quarter, then marched down the field with its first possession of the second half for another touchdown. The Bulldogs added one more tally late in the third quarter to close out the scoring.
"Our offensive line came out in the first quarter and executed well, and the backs found the holes," Anderson said. "I'm really happy with the offensive line. It makes a difference when they can dominate the line of scrimmage like that."
In fact, with Lavigueur, Angelo Luna, Chris Pepper, Chris Parrish and Chris Overhuls doing most of the blocking up front, Nikiski compiled 302 rushing yards, and Bulldogs quarterbacks Josh Reilly and Todd Brigham had the time to combine for 108 passing yards.
"There were some of the biggest holes I've seen in a while," said Lavigueur. "That gives the running backs the opportunity to do what they do and use their speed. With the holes we made, we just let the running backs go to work."
Steve Calderwood took advantage of the opportunities provided, finishing off Nikiski's first drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Reilly capped the second Nikiski drive of the game with a 1-yard quarterback keeper for the score. Reilly threw for the Bulldogs' third touchdown of the game, finding Kyle Alexander all alone in the end zone after Houston's coverage collapsed on David Holloway underneath.
Houston's touchdown was set up on the ensuing kickoff, a short kick which the Hawks' Joe Foster returned 62 yards for a first-and-goal at the Nikiski 4-yard line. Houston quarterback Peter Clemens rolled out of the pocket to find Brett Erickson with the short touchdown pass.
Instead of keeping them in the game, though, the score only served to further fire up the Bulldogs.
"We just had that little lapse on the kickoff return," Anderson said. "We talked about that at halftime. You have to focus for the whole 48 minutes. You can't have mental let-ups like that."
The Bulldogs responded with a scoring drive, capped by a 7-yard run from Calderwood.
Ryan Crumpacker scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run late in the second quarter, and Chuck Seater added a 35-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
Crumpacker scored on an 8-yard run to finish off Nikiski's opening drive of the second half, and Neil Fucci added the final touchdown of the game on a 16-yard run with just under two minutes to play in the third quarter.
BULLDOGS 51, HAWKS 7
Houston 7 0 0 0 -- 7
Nikiski 28 10 13 0 -- 51
Nik -- Calderwood 1 run (Seater kick), 8:04
Nik -- Reilly 1 run (Holloway pass from Sanger), 5:55
Nik -- Alexander 19 pass from Reilly (pass failed), 3:28
Hou -- Erickson 3 pass from Clemens (Aldeman kick), 2:32
Nik -- Calderwood 7 run (Seater kick), 1:23
Nik -- Crumpacker 2 run (Seater kick), 4:02
Nik -- Seater 35 FG, 0:00
Nik -- Crumpacker 8 run (Seater kick), 9:54
Nik -- Fucci 16 run (kick blocked), 1:59
First downs 8 20
Rushes-yards 36-76 48-302
Passing yards 46 108
Return yards 0 66
Passing 9-17-3 9-16-0
Punts-avg 4-31.8 3-41.3
Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-1
Penalties-yards 9-82 10-90
Rushing -- Houston: Smith 17-69, Webb 10-52, Clemens 9-(-45). Nikiski: Calderwood 16-133, Crumpacker 7-82, Reilly 8-65, Fucci 6-34, Allen 5-(-2), Mellberg 3-(-3), Brigham 2-(-6), Pepper 1-(-1).
Passing -- Houston: Clemens 9-16-3--46, Haragan 0-1-0--0. Nikiski: Reilly 6-12-0--65, Brigham 3-4-0-43.
Receiving -- Houston: Haragan 3-19, Foster 3-19, Webb 2-5, Erickson 1-3. Nikiski: Holloway 6-58, Hall 2-31, Alexander 1-19.
Missed field goals -- Seater, Nik.
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