Service Cougars’ quarterback Jonathon Tautua led the Cook Inlet Conference in passing yards last year and he sits atop the leaderboard once again entering Week 5.
You see Tautua’s name, but his success on the gridiron is tied to the unsung heroes on the offensive line who often go unrecognized. There are 10 players on the line as Service has mixed and molded a group of guys into one unit that has excelled in pass protection.
“It’s definitely a group effort,” Tautua said. “None of it works if everybody’s not on the same page and I’ve been fortunate to have guys around me that make me look good.”
Tautua has looked terrific this year as he leads the CIC with 908 passing yards and 15 touchdowns, leading an offense that ranks No. 1 in the CIC at 34.8 points per game through the first four weeks of the high school football season.
The Service signal caller has tossed more TD passes this year than he had last year (14), and he’s done it in half as many games.
“Being more intentional with the mental prep work has really helped things to slow down and come easier,” he said. “Still have a ton of work to do though.”
THIS WEEK IN THE CIC
Juneau at Auburn (WA) 6pm
South at Chugiak 7pm
Service at Dimond 2pm
Colony at East 2pm
West at Bartlett 3pm
Tautua, a senior, threw for a career-high five scores in last week’s 54-14 victory over Juneau that moved the Cougars to 2-2 in the Division I conference.
The Cougars use an up-tempo style where they spread the field and set up quickly to exploit a defense. They play fast and wear down opponents, especially when they are unable to make substitutions.
“You’ll see a faster pace than most people are able and willing to operate at, and you’ll see guys making plays,” Tautua said.
Conditioning is just as important as a keen understanding of the playbook.
“I think it’s a fine balance between being in the know, and being on the outside looking in,” the QB said. “There’s a lot going on and things get really chaotic, but we practice every day to get better.
“I’ll probably get struck down by lightning if I say much more.”
The Cougars have been electric. They average five TDs per game and are capable of scoring from anywhere on the field.
His two main weapons at wide receiver are among the CIC leaders in yards as Caleb Wahlman ranks first with 430 and Chris Thompson is sixth with 234. They’ve combined for 11 TDs.
Wahlman, a junior, ranks second with 18 receptions and is tied with East’s Brandon Young for the league lead with six TD catches. Thompson, a senior, has hauled in five TDs on just 12 receptions.
With multiple offensive packages called before every snap, Tautua’s ability to read the field and make snap decisions is paramount.
There are times when he has five or six options on a single play – passing, running or handing off – and has to react to what the defense gives him.
“There’s a lot that goes on every play and on the mental side I really have to be able to focus on what’s important,” Tautua said. “Being able to prioritize meaningful information in the moment is at the core of what I have to do on almost every play. It’s not always easy, but I’m responsible for putting the team in positions to have success.”
CIC Football Standings
West’s Azariah Atonio is only five yards behind Tautua heading into Week 5 as the two QBs battle for the league’s passing title. South’s Cole Yarrington has come on strong in the last two games to move up to third with 598 yards.
The Dimond Lynx feature two QBs among the league leaders in Cayden Pili and Carson Wingate, who play vastly different games. Pili leads the league with six rushing TDs while Wingate leads the league with a 71% completion rate.
Reigning Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year Jack Nash of Colony missed most of last week’s 31-23 loss to South after he injured his knee on the first defensive series. The starting QB played only two snaps the rest of the way and neither was under center. He lined up at wideout and wound up catching a 24-yard TD pass from backup Marley Fakatoumafi.
Just a freshman, Fakatoumafi completed 10-of-21 passes for 100 yards and TDs to Trevor Jamison and Nash.
“My freshman QB did great,” Colony coach Robbie Nash said. “He is 14 years old and kept us within one TD.”
Nash, who has 47 TDs in his last 15 games, is questionable to play in Saturday’s game at East.
When it comes to rushing, Bartlett quarterback Lokahi Konahokula leads the way to continue a Bartlett tradition. Last year, hard-running halfback Niko Alailefaleula won the CIC rushing title with 1,615 yards and now another Bear back is out front at the halfway point of the regular season.
In wide receiver news, West star Aaron Hampton announced on social media that he will attend Oregon State University. The 6-foot-2 wideout leads the CIC with 18 receptions and ranks fourth with 301 yards to go with three scores.
— Aaron Hampton 3⭐️ (@Aaron_Hampton10) September 2, 2023
Defensively, Colony linebacker Reese Rodriguez leads the league in tackles (49) and sacks (5).
In terms of defensive backs, Bartlett’s Andre Jameson and East’s Austin Johnson each have snagged a league-best four interceptions. Both have a pick six along with West’s Christian Faletoi, who is tied for third in the league with three picks.
On special team’s Colony kicker Johnny Figgins has booted the only field goal in the CIC with a 38-yarder. He’s also been money on PATs.
CIC Passing Leaders
|Jonathon Tautua, Service||908||45%||15|
|Azariah Atonio, West||903||43%||7|
|Cole Yarrington, South||598||62%||5|
|Noah Ault, Juneau||438||38%||5|
|Jack Nash, Colony||384||43%||4|
|Cayden Pili, Dimond||361||57%||2|
|Austin Johnson, East||325||63%||7|
|Carson Wingate, Dimond||289||71%||3|
CIC Rushing Leaders
|Lokahi Konahokula, Bartlett||508||48||3|
|Julian Ates, Colony||432||72||4|
|Jack Nash, Colony||371||36||5|
|Andrew Montenegro, East||350||47||2|
|Aaron Concepcion, South||333||49||4|
|Davis Iloilo, West||310||65||5|
|Manu Auelua-Satele, Bartlett||297||29||3|
|Saumani Atiifale, East||266||34||3|
|Jayden Johnson, Juneau||252||30||3|
|Jon Jon Cervana, East||233||32||1|
CIC Receiving Leaders
|Caleb Wahlman, Service||430||17||6|
|JT Bautista, West||319||15||3|
|Jayden Johnson, Juneau||303||9||3|
|Aaron Hampton, West||301||18||3|
|Brandon Young, East||253||17||6|
|Chris Thompson, Service||234||12||5|
|Landon Drumm, South||233||17||3|
|Fafo Lefano, South||229||15||1|
|Javonte Walls, Dimond||229||11||1|
|Ridge Spencer, Colony||221||13||1|
CIC Defensive Leaders
|Reese Rodriguez, Colony||49|
|Carson Gamez, Service||44|
|Caleb Wahlman, Service||42|
|PJ Levao, Service||40|
|Jordan Muasau, West||39|
|Quilan Meehl, Colony||39|
|Reese Rodriguez, Colony||5|
|Tristan Taamu, West||3|
|Andre Jameson, Bartlett||4||1|
|Austin Johnson, East||4||1|
|Christian Faletoi, West||3||1|
|Hank Hausia, Dimond||3||0|
CIC Kicking Leaders
|Johnny Figgins, Colony||1||38|