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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Leo Aukusitino Alaska State Defensive Player of the Year

Leo Aukusitino was voted defensive player of the year and named a first-team all-state running back and defensive back.

His defensive prowess helped lead the Cougars over Juneau 22-14 in Saturday's state championship at Anchorage Football Stadium. It was Service's first state title in nine seasons and a sweet reward for seniors like Aukusitino, who persevered through losing seasons early in his career.

On Saturday, Aukusitino played a huge role in stopping Fagerstrom from breaking free for a big run or catching the ball for a first down. The Juneau star was held to just 58 rushing yards, one reception and no touchdowns.

Then again, Fagerstrom helped Juneau's defense limit Aukusitino -- large-schools' top running back with 1,361 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns-- to 31 yards and no touchdowns.

Aukusitino's biggest game of the season: rushing for 237 yards and five touchdowns against Eagle River. His most impressive game, however, was against North Pole in the state semifinals. He rushed for 150 yards and scored two touchdowns against the defensive-minded and unbeaten Patriots.

North Pole took home 12 all-state awards, including lineman of the year for Jackson Collins and coach of the year for Richard Henert. The Patriots won the Railbelt Conference title for the first time since 2004.

To nobody's surprise, Service offensive coordinator's Numi Ilalio Jr. and Tim Davis shared the assistant coach of the year award. Ilalio left midseason with the Alaska Army National Guard for an Army base in Kansas. While he trained for a deployment to Afghanistan, Davis took over his position.

Ilalio gave him some pointers via cell phone during Saturday's championship game when Juneau led 14-0 and kept stonewalling Aukusitino. Davis listened to Ilalio while he stood above the AFS press box.

"He would say, 'Well, try this play,' " Davis said. "I'd say, 'We did! And they shut it down!' "

2008 Large-Schools All-State Football Team

Individual Awards

Alaska State Football Coaches Association Player of the Year -- Alex Fagerstrom, Juneau. Offensive Player of the Year -- Alex Fagerstrom, Juneau. Defensive Player of the Year -- Leo Aukusitino, Service. Lineman of the Year -- Jackson Collins, North Pole. Utility Player of the Year -- Alex Fagerstrom, Juneau. Assistant Coaches of the Year -- Numi Ilalio Jr. and Tim Davis, Service. Coach of the Year -- Richard Henert, North Pole.

First Team Offense

Center -- Joe Sokimi, Service. Guard -- Anu Poleo, East; Michael Perkins, South; Matt Lehrbach, Juneau. Tackle -- Matt Packa, Colony; Jack Perkins, Juneau; Clay Tidwell, North Pole. Tight End -- Patxi Colbern, South. Wide Receiver -- Mathew Weedman, Service; Max Harvey, Eagle River. Quarterback -- Colin Graham, South. Fullback -- Jamal Hale, Bartlett; Taylor Lewis, North Pole. Running Back -- Marcus Mendez, Bartlett; Leo Aukusitino, Service; Alex Fagerstrom, Juneau; Dane Ebanez, North Pole.

Second Team Offense

Center -- Balin Babcock, Colony. Guard -- Richard Faaaliga, Service; Mike Sewell, North Pole; Daniel Contini, Palmer. Tackle -- Alex Lutton, Dimond; Kendall Nickson, Bartlett; Corey Lindamood, Service. Tight End -- Tim Orr, Wasilla. Wide Receiver -- Mitch Swetzof, Palmer; Tim Jaronik, Colony. Quarterback -- Collin Murphy, Colony. Running Back -- Marcus Spencer, South; Gibson Scanlan, Dimond; Chris Crane, Wasilla; Brennan Bohman, Palmer.

First Team Defense

Defensive End -- Patxi Colbern, South; Chris Krieg, Colony. Interior Linemen -- Anu Poleo, East; Greg Howard, Chugiak; Jackson Collins, North Pole; Enoch Fifita, Juneau. Linebacker -- Brown Faaaliga, Service; Matt Higgins, South; JD Mitchell, Palmer; Jack Perkins, Juneau; Kevin Ward, North Pole; Lee Jones, North Pole. Defensive Back -- Leo Aukusitino, Service; Alex Fagerstrom, Juneau; Collin Murphy, Colony; Steve Wright, North Pole.

Second Team Defense

Defensive End -- Zac Carey, Service; Phillip Warwick, North Pole. Interior Linemen -- Anthony Ainsworth, Dimond; Troy Masalosalo, Bartlett; Kevin Priestley, Palmer; Matt Craft, West Valley. Linebacker -- Gabe Diaz, Dimond; Jeremy Elliot, East; Gene Ghramm, Chugiak; Trevor Hash, Bartlett; Lincoln Maka, Juneau; Casey Katchinska, Wasilla. Defensive Back -- Christopher Tuohy, South; Caleb Holly, East; Jordan Blount, Bartlett; Vic Wisel, West Valley.

First Team Specialists

Kicker -- Amanda Dotten, Service. Punter -- Kyle Dotson, Dimond; Dane Ebanez, North Pole. Kick Returner -- John Daly, Palmer. Long Snapper -- Ryan Holta, Dimond.

Second Team Specialists

Kicker -- Zach Zegzdryn, Palmer. Kick Returner -- Neil Miyaoka, Service. Long Snapper -- Aaron Mabee, Lathrop.

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