In bagging the Cats, the Nikiski High School football team have let the cat out of the bag.
The Bulldogs defeated the Skyview Panthers 55-0 Friday night in a nonconference game, posting their fourth consecutive shutout and their fifth overall this season.
"That's the secret -- we don't want that to get out," said Nikiski coach Scott Anderson. "That's been a big key for us. Our defense has been tough."
In fact, the Bulldogs haven't surrendered a point since playing to a 40-20 win over Service on Sept. 1, and the Nikiski defense has given up a minuscule 39 points in eight games this season.
"Our hidden secret is our defense. People talk about all the points our offense puts up, but that's set up with our defense," Anderson said.
Nikiski's offense certainly was proficient Friday, posting 492 yards of offense. The Bulldogs stuck with their ground game in the wet conditions, churning out 401 yards, of which Steve Calderwood accounted for 240.
"I have to give the credit to the line today," Calderwood said. "We focused on the line all week. Our line was just outstanding today."
Anderson concurred with the assessment.
"Skyview has a real tough defense -- that's the best aspect of their team," Anderson said. "The offensive opened a lot of holes. Skyview had a lot of guys sitting inside to stop the run, and we were still able to move the ball."
Calderwood got the ball rolling for the Bulldogs,carrying the ball eight times on their opening drive, including a 16-yard touchdown scamper.
Calderwood added another touchdown on a 2-yard run late in the first quarter, then got his hat trick with a 50-yard punt return in the second quarter.
Nikiski's Geoff Sanger scored on a 72-yard pass from quarterback Josh Reilly before Calderwood had a chance to find the end zone again. Calderwood finished off the first-half scoring with a 1-yard run for his fourth touchdown of the game.
The Bulldogs added three touchdowns in the final quarter of play. Lineman Chris Parrish recovered a Nikiski fumble in the end zone for a score, Ian Mellberg scored a touchdown on a 7-yard run and David Holloway returned a blocked punt 44 yards for the Bulldogs' final score of the game.
Chuck Seater converted on 5-of-7 extra point attempts and Holloway scored a two-point conversion on a pass from Reilly.
"Nikiski's a heck of a football team," said Skyview coach Wade Marcuson. "They get off the ball so fast, they hit, they explode, and they're a really disciplined football team. They do all the little things right."
Still, Marcuson some plenty of things done right by the Panthers. Topping the list was the play of Mark McGarry, who held Holloway to two catches for short gains and picked off Reilly twice from his cornerback position.
McGarry also caught five passes for 28 yards and set up Skyview's best scoring opportunity with an 87-yard kickoff return to open the second half.
Marcuson said he liked the way quarterback Ely Evanson threw the ball, pointing out that some of his interceptions were due to receiver error, and saw some good things from his offense.
Skyview's Ely Evanson tries to fend off Nikiski's Zach Hall in the first half Friday.
Photo by M. SCOTT MOON
"We tried some stuff, and the thing I did like was that when we went back to the I-formation, our usual offense, we did move the ball with Adam Kosydar plowing ahead for a few yards at a time."
Skyview finishes the regular season with an overall record of 4-4 and a 2-2 mark in the Northern Lights Conference. The Panthers were officially eliminated from postseason play when Soldotna defeated Kenai Saturday.
Nikiski, 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the Great Land Conference, will host the Kardinals Saturday at noon in a small schools playoffs semifinal.
BULLDOGS 55, PANTHERS 0
Nikiski 14 21 0 20 -- 55
Skyview 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Nik -- Calderwood 16 run (Seater kick), 8:36
Nik -- Calderwood 24 run (Seater kick), 0:17
Nik -- Calderwood 50 punt return (kick failed), 6:10
Nik -- Sanger 72 pass from Reilly (Seater kick), 3:34
Nik -- Calderwood 1 run (Holloway pass from Reilly), 0:28
Nik -- Fumble recovered by Parrish in the end zone (Seater kick), 9:56
Nik -- Mellberg 7 run (kick failed), 4:18
Nik -- Holloway 44 punt return (Seater kick), 2:28
First downs 22 6
Rushes-yards 57-401 34-13
Passing yards 91 52
Return yards 126 14
Passing 4-9-3 7-23-5
Punts-avg 1-33.0 7-29.3
Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 6-60 8-75
Rushing -- Nikiski: Calderwood 32-240, Crumpacker 8-82, Mellberg 4-38, Reilly 7-22, Alexander 2-13, Allen 3-3, Alleman 1-3. Skyview: Kosydar 12-37, Dalebout 4-7, Reeve 5-1, Quelland 2-(-2), Singleton 1-(-4), Evanson 11-(-26).
Passing -- Nikiski: Reilly 4-9-3--91. Skyview: Evanson 7-23-5--52.
Receiving -- Nikiski: Sanger 2-86, Holloway 2-5. Skyview: McGarry 5-28, Reeve 1-16, Dalebout 1-8.
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