MaxWire National Blog

Covering High School Sports in America

Category: Alaska Football

  • One of his 8 touchdown runs.

    Jace Daniels had a spectacular opening game of the season three weeks ago, scoring seven touchdowns in a 51-16 win over Nikiski. In a 78-6 win over Homer on Saturday, Daniels did one better.

    The Kenai Central (Kenai, Alaska) senior running back rushed 17 times for 270 yards and scored six rushing touchdowns in the big win over Homer, a team that reached the medium school state championship game last year. Daniels also scored two defensive touchdowns, one on a fumble return and another on an interception return, according to the Peninsula Clarion.

    With three games under his belt, Daniels leads the nation in rushing and scoring. He has carried 56 times for 825 yards, including a 485-yard effort in the season opener. Daniels had 270 yards on 17 carries against Homer.

    Daniels also has 16 touchdowns, 14 of them rushing, to lead the nation.
  • The nation's first state football champions — Soldotna (Alaska) and Eielson — were crowned on Saturday and of course it was in the frigid state of Alaska.

    Soldotna Stars

    On indeed a frigid day, Soldotna warmed up offensively en route to a 62-20 win over Homer in the medium-school championship game.

    According to the Anchorage Daily News, Drew Gibbs rushed eight times for 153 yards, leading a 447-yard rushing attack. Soldotna (9-1), which piled up 31 first downs, had a 34-0 halftime lead and 55-6 after three.

    Reid Schmelzenbach added 130 yards rushing and a 53-yard touchdown run.

    Eielson Ravens

    It was the fifth state crown in 13 title games for the Stars, who outscored opponents 516-32 this season.

    Snowfall and slippery conditions contributed eight fumbles, according to the newspaper.

    In the small-school title game, Eielson won its first state title since 1992 with a 27-7 win over Nikiski. Eielson won the title 20 years ago when Alaska had just one division.

    Courtesy photo

    Viliamu Aukusitino, Service

    In large-school semifinal play, Service (Anchorage) quarterback Viliamu Aukusitino was at it again with an absolute monster game as he accounted for 533 yards and seven touchdowns in a 49-34 win over West (Anchorage).

    Aukustino also added two interceptions on defense.

    It helped offset a huge game from West's Conor Feckley, who completed 26 of 51 for 446 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target was Leroy Elliott with 194 receiving yards and three touchdowns. 

    Service will play South (Anchorage), a 25-7 winner over Palmer, in next week's title game.

  • A football legend continues to grow in Alaska.

    It started last year when Viliamu Aukusitino, then a junior, quarterbacked Service (Anchorage, Alaska) to the large-school state championship.

    Now a 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior - who also stars at cornerback - "Amu" is better than ever. He proved it over the weekend by sparking the Cougars to a 58-10 rout of Juneau-Douglas (Juneau, Alas.) with a truly dominating performance during the state quarterfinals.

    Courtesy photo

    Viliamu Aukusitino, Service

    In the first half alone, he accounted for 454 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns in a variety of ways. He was most devastating on defense, returning interceptions for touchdowns of 46, 45 and 32 yards. And then there was the blocked field goal which he raced nearly the length of the field (90 yards) to score a fourth defensive touchdown. In addition, he completed 10 of 15 passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns, while running nine times for 86 yards.

    The score was 52-3 at halftime.

    Juneau-Douglas coach Rich Sjooros told the Anchorage Daily News that Aukusitino "has great instincts. Not too many come along like him in high school, especially in Alaska. He's just a special kid and he can hurt you in so many ways."

    Colleges showing interest in him so far include San Diego State, Hawaii, Colorado, California and North Dakota.
  • We are guessing nearly every coach dreams about being able to retire on a winning note – particularly a state championship. If so, Service (Anchorage, Alaska) coach Jason Caldarera is living the dream.

    After 19 years with the Cougars overall, Caldarera stepped down as head coach Wednesday so that he could spend more time with his family. He will remain as the school's athletic director and also to continue to teach physical education.

    "I had some health issues in the fall and I had to put some things in perspective," Caldarera, 40, told the Anchorage Daily News. "My daughter was the starting quarterback in flag football at the end of the year and I realized how much I missed (seeing her play). I don't want to have that feeling anymore."

    Caldarera played for Service during his high school years and was an assistant from 1993-99. He took over a highly successful Cougars program that had won three consecutive state titles and continued the tradition. Service played in three of the past four state championships. The Cougars finished 10-0-1 last season.

    "Not many people get a choice to leave on the top or to leave without controversy," Caldarera told the newspaper. "I'm doing this totally of my own free will."

    In other coaching news around the country:

    * Boys basketball coach Marvin Neals of Cardinal Ritter (St. Louis) and girls basketball coach Ray Preston of Davenport (N.Y.) each won their 600th basketball game Wednesday. Neals has won four state titles in 30 years of coaching, including three at Ritter, most recently in 2010.

    "I was a little uptight most of the day because of the anticipation," Neals, 69, told "This is a tribute to all of the outstanding kids that I coached. I've been blessed to have a lot of awards in my life but I take it in stride."

    As for Preston, in his 33 years he has posted a 600-157 record, good for second place all-time in New York. Preston, who has been coaching at Davenport since 1978 and was inducted into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame last year, is only wins from tying retired state leader John Kuhn of Red Hook (N.Y.).

    "There are a lot of memories," Preston, 63, told The (Oneonta) Daily Star. "I thank the girls for being part of it. Obviously, any girl who's played for me is a part of it and it's a big number."

    This is second big milestone for Preston this school year. This past fall he recorded his 400th girls soccer victory.

    Finally, we know high school football is huge in Texas, and when a highly coveted job comes open there is bound to be a lot of interest. Even the number of applicants for the open position at Lovejoy (Lucas, Texas) surprised us.

    * As reported by the Dallas Morning News, the school received more than 200 applications for the job, which ultimately went to Matt Green. Most recently Green was the offensive coordinator at Lake Travis (Austin, Texas) for the past three seasons, when the Cavaliers extended their state championship win streak to five.