Return of the Dark Side is playing to rave reviews at South entering Week 6 of the Cook Inlet Conference. Only time will tell if the sequel is as good as the original.
Back in the day, the Wolverines brought the force to the gridiron and embraced their Dark Side nickname, wearing black uniforms and warming up to the imperial march from Star Wars.
That was their identity under coach John Lewis. So was winning, as South captured the First National Bowl three times between 2006 and 2014.
Lewis stepped down in 2017 after piling up 81 wins in 14 seasons. When he came back in 2022, the team was a mess and finished 0-9. The Wolverines entered the 2023 season with several question marks at crucial offensive skill positions.
“We didn’t know who was going to QB our team, as well as catch a ball if it was thrown in the air,” Lewis said. “The cabinets were bare.”
The Wolverines are eating now, though.
After a slow start, South bounced back to post consecutive wins for the first time since 2020.
CIC Football Standings
“My football program is a group of real football players now,” Lewis said. “They all have come from different sports teams in our building. None of them really understood the game of football, never even watched it on TV.”
He’s given his players a crash course and toughened them up. After finding their footing, the Wolverines reversed an 0-3 skid with back-to-back wins over Colony, 31-23, and Chugiak, 19-18.
“Our first win over the defending state champs has been a high point in these kids’ football career so far. For me it was one of the most special moments to enjoy that with them.” Lewis said. “A second win in a row, especially coming back to do so, was as exciting for them.
“They believe now and that is very dangerous for everyone else.”
THIS WEEK IN THE CIC
South at Service 3pm
Dimond at Bartlett 5:30pm
West at East 5:30pm
Colony at Juneau 7pm
The first coach in South history when it opened in 2004, Lewis is the school’s career wins leader (83) and ranks sixth all-time among CIC coaches.
He dipped into his past to bring back some of that Dark Side magic, getting 2008 graduate Sterling Lopez to be his offensive coordinator. Lopez was part of the inaugural South team and became an all-state defensive end and all-CIC tight end.
“He understands who we are,” Lewis said. “Everyone thinks you have to spread it out and chuck it to be successful. Not true, because this Fly offense passed and ran to be No. 1 for over a decade.
“The key was building around your kids, having a coordinator that believes in the step-by-step approach, then lastly kids that believe in the system.”
South’s offense is led by quarterback Cole Yarrington and halfback Aaron Concepcion.
Conception is averaging 6.6 yards per carry and ranks sixth in the CIC with 375 rushing yards. He also eight receptions for 79 yards.
Yarrington ranks third in the CIC with 673 passing yards and fourth with six touchdown passes. His favorite two targets are Landon Drumm and Falealili Lefano, who have combined to catch 37 of Yarrington’s 53 completions.
Drumm ranks third in the CIC with 22 receptions and sixth with 310 yards. He has four TDs. The sophomore wideout is the son of former Service star Brandon Drumm, a 2003 NFL draft pick of the Detroit Lions who played his college ball at Colorado.
Brandon is Alaska football royalty – the 1997 Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year who amassed 4,700 yards and 64 TDs in his prep career.
In 1996, he rushed for 1,657 yards and was named CIC Offensive Player of the Year.
In 1997, he exploded for a state record 2,273 yards aided by his huge game in the First National Bowl with 273 yards and four TDs, including a title game record 91-yard run in a 47-14 victory over Chugiak.
He was a 6-foot-2, 230-pound freight train. His son, Landon, is a lean 6-foot, 150-pounder who has playmaker written all over him.
“Landon is a Wolverine and plays like one,” Lewis said, “but he is about team first, as the rest of us.”
CIC Passing Leaders
|Azariah Atonio, West||1,117||47%||10|
|Jonathon Tautua, Service||908||45%||15|
|Cole Yarrington, South||673||59%||6|
|Carson Wingate, Dimond||451||53%||4|
|Austin Johnson, East||441||61%||9|
|Noah Ault, Juneau||438||38%||3|
|Cayden Pili, Dimond||396||58%||2|
|Jack Nash, Colony||384||43%||4|
|Marley Fakatoumafi, Colony||248||52%||3|
CIC Rushing Leaders
|Lokahi Konahokula, Bartlett||628||60||3|
|Davis Iloilo, West||610||102||9|
|Julian Ates, Colony||465||85||4|
|Andrew Montenegro, East||464||60||3|
|Hayden Aube, Juneau||377||108||5|
|Aaron Concepcion, South||375||57||4|
|Jack Nash, Colony||371||36||5|
|Manu Auelua-Satele, Bartlett||335||37||3|
|Jayden Johnson, Juneau||331||34||4|
|Saumani Atiifale, East||316||45||3|
CIC Receiving Leaders
|Caleb Wahlman, Service||430||17||6|
|Jayden Johnson, Juneau||405||11||6|
|JT Bautista, West||366||17||4|
|Brandon Young, East||362||23||8|
|Aaron Hampton, West||353||24||4|
|Landon Drumm, South||310||22||4|
|Josiah James, Dimond||276||18||2|
|Trevor Jamison, Colony||246||18||5|
|Ridge Spencer, Colony||238||16||1|
|Chris Thompson, Service||234||12||5|
CIC Defensive Leaders
|Reese Rodriguez, Colony||64|
|Quilan Meehl, Colony||51|
|Carson Gamez, Service||44|
|Caleb Wahlman, Service||42|
|PJ Levao, Service||40|
|Christian Faletoi, West||31|
|Mason Tanoa, West||30|
|Reese Rodriguez, Colony||5|
|Tristan Taamu, West||3|
|Andre Jameson, Bartlett||4||1|
|Austin Johnson, East||4||1|
|Dylan Sanders, West||4||0|
|Christian Faletoi, West||3||1|
|Hank Hausia, Dimond||3||0|
CIC Kicking Leaders
|Johnny Figgins, Colony||3||38|