FAIRBANKS—North Pole expected Wasilla Warriors senior Devon Teeling to be a punishing running back in Friday night’s homecoming and Railbelt Conference high school football game for the Patriots.
Teeling did his damage with a 293-yard performance on 38 carries, but the Patriots seemingly experienced more pain from the 12 penalties they accrued in the 43-29 loss, including seven encroachment infractions on defense.
North Pole’s first three penalties at Patriot Pride Field were enroachments, with the third one occuring before Teeling scored on a 1-yard run for his first of two touchdowns in the contest that clinched Wasilla’s first playoff berth since 1999 and eliminated North Pole from postseason contention.
“It hurts and our inexperience hurts,” Patriots head coach Richard Henert said following a somber postgame meeting with his team on the field.
The Patriots finished wth 12 penalties for 63 yards compared to the Warriors’ six for 41.
“We made a lot of mistakes in a lot of our games,” Henert reflected, “but I don’t want to try to make it sound that way but it seems like it more of us making mistakes and we’re as good as the other team.
“We were making mistakes that are hard to come back from, but give all the credit to Wasilla for the win. We’ve played some teams, but it just seems like we’ve been a lot closer in games than the score would indicate a lot of times because of things (penalties) like that.”
The loss, besides dropping North Pole to 1-4 Railbelt and 2-5 overall, put a damper on quarterback Moo Rogers accomplishing a rare achievement in Alaska high school football. The 5-foot-8, 165-pound junior reached the 1,000-yard plateau in passing and rushing with one game left in the regular season for the Patriots.
“Moo is a tough kid and it’s been a pleasure blocking for him,” said Patriots senior right tackle Isaac Masters, who also plays at defensive tackle.
Rogers completed 15 of 29 passes for 218 yards to give him 1,210 yards through the air and he rushed 23 times for 121 yards to reach 1,043 for the season.
“The great thing about the way he did it was it was a total team thing,” Henert said. “He had enough receivers to spread the ball around to get the passing yards and he had the offensive line and enough running backs to keep the focus off him to get the rushing yards.”
Ray Johnson scored on a 4-yard run to give North Pole a 15-14 lead with 4:43 left in the second quarter.
Rogers accounted for three touchdowns for the Patriots. He scored on a 4-yard run to give North Pole an 8-7 lead with 3:37 left in the first quarter and his 9-yard bolt with 6:42 left in the third cut the Warriors lead to 28-22. He also connected with Anthony Gibson a 35-yard touchdown pass to bring North Pole within seven, 36-29, with 7:55 left in the fourth quarter.
Teeling, who also pushed Wasilla’s lead to 28-15 in the third with a 49-yard run, did more cutting against the Patriots than he did in the Warriors’ last visit to the Interior. Wasilla won 37-6 at Lathrop on Sept. 3, as Teeling rushed 32 times for 200 yards and two touchdowns, mostly with power runs up the middle.
A turf toe injury he sustained earlier this week led the 5-foot-10, 205-pound senior to change his running style Friday.
“Instead of pushing off, I was just trying to cut back and not put weight on it (toe),” Teeling said.
One thing that didn’t change for him was the work of the Warriors’ offensive line.
“They did amazing. They did their blocking assignments perfectly every time,” Teeling said.
Wasilla head coach Kent Rilatos told his offensive linemen to just tie up the Patriots defensive linemen.
“We don’t have to dominate, we don’t have to move them down the field, we just have to tie,” he said. “We just have to tie with their guys and let Devon pick the holes and do the rest.”
The Warriors (4-1, 5-2) took advantage of the Patriots’ defense focusing on Teeling, as quarterback Ben Fielder threw four touchdown passes, with three going to Tyler Anderson (52 yards in the second quarter, 7 in the third and 48 yards in the fourth). Braydon Kuiper caught a 16-yard TD with 2:15 left in the second for a 21-15 lead for Wasilla.
The Lathrop Malemutes dropped to 2-5 with their fifth straight loss of the season, a 37-20 setback to the Houston Hawks in a nonconference game Friday in Houston.
More details on the game will be provided when they become available.
Also Friday, the Chugiak Mustangs shocked the fifth-ranked West Anchorage Eagles 34-32 one day after the Mustangs had to forfeit their other wins this season because they used an ineligible player. The top-ranked Service Cougars downed the Eagle River Wolves 66-35 and the Palmer Moose thumped the Colony Knights 42-6.
Contact staff writer Danny Martin at 459-7586.