ASIJ starts slowly, picks up first victory
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan – Fresh off two disheartening defeats, American School In Japan’s football team needed a spark. The Mustangs got it thanks to the play of their offensive line and a balanced offense that sent Robert D. Edgren reeling.
Brothers Henry and Wills Wallrapp each rushed for touchdowns, part of an attack that saw seven different Mustangs reach the end zone as ASIJ rallied from an early 12-point deficit to wallop Edgren 48-18 on Friday.
“We were really successful on the line,” coach Craig Karnitz said of a unit featuring Ryan Ojier and Joel Blanke, who “did a great job of blocking and opening things up for people. They were really strong.”
The turnaround came on the heels of ASIJ’s season-opening 27-21 home loss to Yokota and a 13-6 defeat last Friday at Nile C. Kinnick.
“It was good. It was nice,” Karnitz said of the road win. “Our kids are resilient. We had a great week of practice. When you practice well, you play well.”
Running backs Ken Yajima and Haru Kent also benefitted from the line’s solid play, each rushing for a touchdown. Meanwhile, David Hernandez connected with Drogan James on two touchdown passes, part of Hernandez’s rise as a quarterback, Karnitz said. “He grows more and more every week, puts the ball right on the money.”
“Their (ASIJ) run scheme is really good,” said coach Blaine Miller of the Eagles (1-3). “We can’t stop 240-pound pulling linemen. Our young guys have to learn how to finish.”
The Mustangs’ rally came after Tristan Jefferson took a keeper 83 yards on the game’s opening play for a score. Edgren then recovered an onside kick and Jefferson hit Khalil Williams for a 52-yard TD pass. Later, he connected with Louis Murphy on a 72-yard touchdown.
Sensing the game getting out of hand in the third quarter, and knowing the game meant nothing in the DODDS Division II, DODDS Japan or Kanto Plain standings, Miller emptied the bench and played mostly sophomores and juniors who had seen little playing time to that point. “That helps our program,” Miller said.
ASIJ visits Zama American on Friday, while Edgren travels to Daegu on Saturday.