FAIRBANKS — The Lathrop Malemutes received a compliment last Saturday about their discipline. The same discipline could be a factor in tonight’s 7 o’clock Railbelt Conference football game against the Colony Knights at Lathrop High School.
Juneau-Douglas downed Lathrop 23-6 in last Saturday in Juneau. Crimson Bears head coach Rich Sjoroos told the Malemutes he was impressed with their discipline in the rain-hampered conference game.
“He gave us a compliment during the (postgame) handshake line, and then he came into our locker room and talked to the coaches and players,” Lathrop head coach Rusty Ham said during a telephone interview Monday. “He told me to my face that this is the best disciplined team that Lathrop has ever had.”
“A compliment like that goes a long way to our coaches and our staff that we’re doing the right thing,” Ham said.
The Malemutes (1-3 Railbelt, 2-3 overall) want their season to go on longer, and a win tonight over the Knights would keep alive Lathrop’s hopes for one of the conference’s four postseason berths for the large schools state tournament in three weeks.
“This is the inside lane to the playoffs,” Ham said. “We have to play the perfect game (tonight) to make the playoffs.”
The Malemutes recently got the perfect opportunity to learn about the Knights (1-2, 3-2) before they came to Fairbanks.
The Lathrop coaches and players first observed Colony on Aug. 31 during a 21-20 loss to Juneau-Douglas in a Railbelt game at Colony High School in Palmer. The Malemutes were in the Matanuska Valley for a Sept. 1 game at Wasilla, which Lathrop won 48-32.
“They seemed to have a hard time running against Juneau’s defense, so they tried to take advantage of their (Colony) tall receivers,” Ham said.
The Malemutes have been using several tall players in the defensive secondary during practices this week.
“We’re trying out to found out who will be the best matchup, and it’s been really competitive,” Ham said.
Contact staff writer Danny Martin at 459-7586.