Service High School is known for its high-powered offenses. The Cougars averaged almost 40 points per game last season, earning them a seat at the state championship.
They came up short against West High School. And this year, they’re looking to get back in the tournament.
The Cougars know they have to win to get back in, but Head Coach Kevin Kern says it’s a long road to the championship.
“We take one game at a time,” said Kern. “That’s the way we coach over here. As far as I’m concerned right now, until it’s different, West is the best team in the state of Alaska.”
He says playoffs won’t come into the conversation until later in the season.
This year, the Cougar’s coach has pair of experienced drivers with senior quarterbacks Zyrelle Jones and Darren Tatum. Jones is a transfer from Bartlett High School, and as a drop-back passer, he’s happy to be part of his new team’s air-raid offense.
“We did kind of pass a lot at Bartlett,” said Jones. “But now that Service is more of a passing team, I’m more used to that because I’m a passing quarterback.”
Jones and Tatum each bring a different skill set that can help the offense move the ball.
“With Darren Tatum, he’s more of a veer option kind of guy,” said Kern. “He’s a little more squirrellier. He can get out and move around. He’s pretty quick.”
Kern says Jones’s height is what gives him a particular advantage.
“Zyrelle, being six foot four, he’s got a little better view of the field,” he said. “He’s more of a step-up-in-the-pocket kind of guy, but he’s got moves also on the outside.”
Kern hasn’t decided on a starter yet, but both quarterbacks view it as a healthy competition.
“It motivates both of us,” said Tatum. “If I’m messing up and he’s messing up then hey, whoever keeps working hard is going to get that spot.”
Jones agrees that hard work will make the decision easier for the coaches.
“It’s the coaches’ choice, so, I mean, maybe inside of me I feel like the guy, but I’m out here competing, and we’re out here competing,” commented Jones. “So we’ll see at the end whoever starts.”