The East T-birds got a little defensive Saturday, and now they are atop the Cook Inlet Conference standings.

East’s 29-26 home win over Colony coupled with Dimond’s loss catapulted the T-birds into sole possession of first place in the state’s premier league in addition to handing coach Jeff Trotter his 75th career win at the school.

Defense saved the day for the T-birds, who dug themselves out of an early 12-0 hole and shut out Colony in the fourth quarter. The defense also scored on a pick six when Toa Samoa returned an interception 41 yards.

East needed the defensive gem because its offensive playmakers struggled at times. The T-birds fumbled the opening kickoff and missed three scoring opportunities on their first four possessions by overthrowing open receivers.

The T-birds found their rhythm in the second quarter behind the passing attack of quarterback Austin Johnson and wideout Brandon Young.

East’s Brandon Young and Austin Johnson. File photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Goon Gallery

One of the CIC’s top scoring duos, Johnson and Young connected on five passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns on back-to-back drives. Both scores came on fade patterns to the corner of the end zone.

Young finished with seven catches for 104 yards, accounting for most of Johnson’s 110 yards through the air. The T-birds’ tandem has eight TD connections this year.

East’s passing game helped seize a 15-12 advantage, but it was the defense that created separation.

Two plays after the T-birds took the lead, they struck again after Samoa snagged a pick took it to the house as the lead swelled to 21-12.

East tacked on a 2-point conversion to make it 23-12 after Johnson found Muhammad Sabally on a jump ball, which was fitting because they are both basketball players for the defending Class 4A state champions.

Even still, the game was far from a slam dunk for the T-birds.

CIC Week 5 Scores
Service 28, Dimond 14
West 47, Bartlett 6
South 19, Chugiak 18
East 29, Colony 26
Juneau 55, Auburn (WA) 49 2OT

East’s defense made the difference by making life tough on Colony’s rushing attack, holding the Knights to a season-low 138 yards and making six tackles for loss.

The T-birds swarm to the ball and feature heavy hitters up and down the line. They held Colony to minus-2 yards on its first two possessions of the third quarter and didn’t allow any points over the final 14 minutes.

East’s running game accounted for 246 yards, led by Andrew Montenegro’s 129 yards. The slippery halfback broke off a 63-yard run before being pushed out of bounds at the 1-yard line. No matter, he got the ball on the very next play and scored his TD to put East up 29-19.

Saumani Atiifale added 54 yards on the ground and Samoa chipped in 33 yards to complement Montenegro, the bellwether back who had a team-high 18 carries on the day.

Montenegro managed to find space with a 63-yarder and four more runs of 9 yards, but other than that it was tough sledding.


CIC Football Standings

East 4-0 4-1
Dimond 3-1 4-1
West 3-1 4-1
Service 3-2 3-2
Colony 2-3 2-3
South 1-3 2-3
Bartlett 1-3 1-4
Juneau 0-4 1-4


Early on, the Knights were gettin’ Figgy with it as kicker Johnny Figgins booted field goals of 37 and 30 yards in the first quarter.

He was already the only kicker in the CIC with a field goal and now he’s got three.

Colony pushed its lead to 12-0 after Hayden Shafer scored on a 5-yard run. Figgins’ PAT was blocked.

The Knights stopped a 23-point run when freshman signal caller Marley Fakatoumafi found Trevor Jamison on a 26-yard TD pass right before halftime. Fakatoumafi’s pass got to Jamison a split second before an East defensive back’s diving attempt to break up the pass.

On the scoring drive, Fakatoumafi showcased awesome touch and youthful audacity. He dropped in a beautiful over-the-shoulder throw to Teagan Olson for a 30-yard gain and on the next play made a sloppy pitch on an end around that led to a fumble and loss of 7 yards.

Fakatoumafi finished with a season-high 148 passing yards. Jamison hauled in four receptions for 66 yards.

Late in the third quarter, Colony pulled within 29-26 after Ben Holladay scored on a 2-yard run. The 5-foot-9, 230-pound offensive lineman was called on to run the fullback dive and delivered his first career TD.

Colony’s Ben Holladay. File photo by Bruce Eggleston/MatSu Sports

In the fourth quarter, Figgins made the play of the game when he ran 23 yards on a fake punt first down from his own end zone. It wasn’t a called fake, Colony coach Robbie Nash said, but Figgins made the decision to go for it.

The drive stalled in the end and three plays later the Knights were back in punt formation. This time the snap went through Figgins’ hands, but the junior tracked down the ball and got off a 43-yard punt under duress.

Colony’s final drive saw the Knights use their third string QB after Fakatoumafi left with an ankle injury. Already without reigning Gatorade Player of the Year Jack Nash, who is out with a knee injury, the Knights finished the game with Jerimiah Brown under center.

Colony 12 7 7 0 – 26
East 0 23 6 0 – 29

Colony – Figgins 37 FG
Colony – Figgins 29 FG
Colony – Shafer 5 run (kick blocked)
East – Young 5 pass from Johnson (Atiifale run)
East – Young 8 pass from Johnson (Johnson kick)
East – Samoa 41 interception return (Sabally pass from Johnson)
Colony – Jamison 26 pass from Fakatoumafi (Figgins kick)
East – Montenegro 1 run (kick blocked)
Colony – Holladay 2 run (Figgins kick)
No Scoring

Additional Article Sponsors:
Arctic Slope Regional Corporation | Korndrop Family Foundation | Kari and John Ellsworth | Krispy Kreme | Burgerfi | Moose's Tooth, Bear Tooth and Broken Tooth Brewing | Midas Alaska | BOSCO's | Replacement Glass | Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson, LLC. | Nicole Johnston | Loren Kroon | Darren Lieb | R&M Consultants, Inc. | Alaska Oil and Gas Association | Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska | RE/MAX Dynamic Properties Kevin Taylor | Continental Auto Group | William Cotton | Joey Caterinichio & Ja Dorris | Advanced Diagnostics, INC | Foley & Pearson, P.C. | Aspen Endodontics | Residential Mortgage | Invisalign-Ben Ward | Aktive Soles | Sarah & A.J. Schirack | Alice & Gunnar Knapp | The Conway Family | Don Clary & Judy Besh | Lisa Keller/Multisport Training of Alaska | Dan Rufner | On the Border| Amy & Jason Miller | Harlow Robinson | Team Heat | Todd Whited, Mark and Jamie Johnson | Firetap | Coho Financial Group | Jason & Shannon Metrokin | Kathleen Navarre | Jim Hajdukovich | Zareena and Allen Clendaniel | Mark Silverman | Rick Mystrom | Kathie Bethard | Joe Alston Dr. | Justin Libby, DDS | Team Moriarty |
School Boosters:
Coho Financial Group, BOSCO's, Continental Auto Group, Invisalign-Ben Ward, Aspen Endodontics, Kathleen Navarre, Advanced Diagnostics, INC