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Pacific spring sports ratings, goal-scoring leaders

First crack at rating the top 10 boys and girls soccer teams, plus your Pacific goal-scoring leaders, both decked out in Zama American black, maroon and white:

Boys soccer
1. Seoul Foreign (6-0). Playmakers Kai Summers (12 assists) and Daniel Chung (7) helping Crusaders pile up the goals.
2. Kubasaki, Okinawa (4-1-2). Transfer Miles Mahlock (7 assists), lockdown defender Hannibal Parathikoune have Dragons flying high.
3. Christian Academy Japan (0-0). Two matches to open season this week will reveal if they’re the same Knights they’ve always been.
4. Zama American, Japan (5-0). Imagine the Trojans had they kept Ryan Walls and JoJo Byrnes in addition to having Malik Wilkes fall into their laps.
5. Matthew C. Perry, Japan (7-0-1). Still playing solid ball despite not having any players named Lange, Apple or Barker.
6. Seoul American (4-1-3). They’ve gotten younger, but the addition of transfer Niko Russey has already paid dividends.
7. Yongsan International-Seoul (3-2-1). Also younger than in years past, but Terry Lee, Junior Oh and Shutaro Hasumi are doing some good things for Guardians.
8. Kadena, Okinawa (2-2-1). Still competitive, but a much different Panthers unit sans graduated Yuji Callahan.
9. Taejon Christian International, South Korea (2-1-2). So far, so good for Jason Lim and the Dragons.
10. Yokota, Japan (3-3-1). That 1-0 loss at E.J. King on Saturday was eyebrow-raising. John Crate off to solid start.

Final Pacific high school boys basketball Top 10

Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam playoffs have ended with John F. Kennedy capturing its first island championship in 11 seasons. Here are the final Sports Blog boys basketball ratings for 2014-15:

1. Yokota, Japan (26-1): Far East Division II champions in first year as small school; some observers said Panthers could have won Division I had they attended.

2. Kubasaki, Okinawa (27-9): Third Far East Division I title in five years.

Ex-US track stars to hold clinic at Yokota

Four former track and field athletes, including two former world record holders, are being sponsored onto Yokota Air Base by the Yokota Striders Running Club to offer an eight-hour clinic to youth athletes on March 29, the Striders announced in a letter addressed to the school on Wednesday.

The four athletes are: Former long jump world record-holder Mike Powell, a silver medalist in the 1988 and 1992 Summer Olympic Games; Willie Banks, who held the triple-jump world record for 10 years; Kenneth Flax, a hammer thrower who also competed in Seoul and Barcelona in 1988 and 1992; and former Boston and Honolulu Marathon winner Jacqueline Hansen.

Ex-Guam High player suiting up for Ga. State in NCAA tournament

A name familiar to folks who followed Guam High basketball in the late 2000s might likely show up on your TV sets later this week when No. 14-seed Georgia State battles No. 3 Baylor in the second round of the NCAA men’s tournament in a West Regional game at Jacksonville, Fla.

Curtis Washington played for Guam High coach Joe Taitano from 2007-08 before finishing out his high school career at Elizabethtown (Ky.) High in 2009-10. His college career began rather inauspiciously; he played 11 minutes in three games at Southern California, missed the entire 2011-12 season with a torn labrum and then transferred to Georgia State, located in downtown Atlanta, and has seen extensive playing time for the Panthers since.

Things learned, observed in 4th Tomodachi Bowl

Team Rising Sun running back Yoshimori Konoya of Keio University runs into the end zone during the first half of the Tomodachi Bowl at Amino Vital Field in Chofu, Japan on Sunday, March 8, 2015.

Coaches of Team USA had been warning their players in Japan, Okinawa and Korea that this year’s Tomodachi Bowl would not be like the previous encounters Team USA had enjoyed against Team Rising Sun. The Americans had outscored their Japanese counterparts 236-51 in three previous Tomodachi Bowls and the 2010 Camellia Bowl.

But instead of a competitive game, Team Rising Sun on Sunday completely turned the tables on Team USA.  It was Team Rising Sun’s turn to dump Team USA – to the tune of 100-22 Sunday at Tokyo’s Amino Vital Field.

Pacific basketball Top 10s, final wrestling Fine Five

One more set of ratings to go after this one, following the conclusion of the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam playoffs, which begin later this week:

Boys basketball
1. Yokota, Japan (26-1): Stumbled once during Far East Division II title run, played five games on final day to give coach Paul Ettl a victorious send-off.

2. Kubasaki, Okinawa (27-9): Closed strongly following finals loss in Oki-American tournament, captured third Far East Division I title in five years.

Talent, yardage, TDs dot Team USA’s Tomodachi Bowl lineup

On paper, it appears to be a mismatch. Since Team USA’s contingent of football players from DODDS high schools began playing against Japanese prep and college counterparts in 2010, the American side has outscored the Japanese 236-51 in five meetings.

But don’t count on Sunday’s fourth Tomodachi Bowl to be a repeat of games gone by, coaches of Team USA insist. The Japanese, who spent the first four contests shuttling different high school teams during each quarter, are taking an approach similar to the American model, Team USA head coach Tim Pujol of Yokota says — an all-star model featuring stud players at each position.

The Japanese held a combine, Pujol said, featuring about 175 players and kept 60 — a process similar to the one used by Team USA over the years, taking nominations from coaches and keeping the best of the best at each position. And they have been practicing together, Pujol said, something of a long-term project for Team Rising Sun, which, starting next year, will begin sending a U-19 team to compete against international teams.

“Team USA is definitely a quality group of players, but we will finally have the challenge we have always anticipated,” Pujol said. He attended a social event Saturday in celebration of the 80th anniversary of tackle football in Japan, and Pujol said several members of the Kanto Football Coaches Association “were brimming with confidence about their chances this year.”

The relationship between Teams USA and Rising Sun had its roots in March 2010, when they played at Kawasaki Stadium in what was then called the Camellia Bowl, named for the official flower of Kawasaki City. Team USA set the tone for those first four meetings, winning 61-0 on a beautiful March 7 Sunday afternoon under pastel-blue skies.

The 2011 game was slated for March 12, but was canceled due to the Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan the day before. It was renamed the Tomodachi Bowl for the 2012 game, to commemorate the partnership between the U.S. and Japan, both in football and helping rebuild the Tohoku region through Operation Tomodachi.

Team USA won the next three installments, 50-17 in 2012 at Yokosuka Naval Base, 57-21 in 2013 at Yokota High School and 68-13 last March 9 at Naval Air Facility Atsugi. Sunday’s renewal kicks off at 2 p.m., this year hosted by Team Rising Sun at Amino Vital Stadium on Route 20 near American School In Japan. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. Sunday, preceded by several youth games.

And the American lineup once more reads like a who’s who of Pacific high school football. Players from nine DODDS schools and ASIJ — a record for the event — will dot Team USA’s lineup, including:
 

  • Dre Paylor, Nile C. Kinnick’s junior running back who rushed for 1,573 yards and 18 touchdowns on 157 carries for the Red Devils last season. Included in that ledger was a 445-yard Pacific single-game record performance on 27 carries in a 36-23 win Oct. 3 at Yokota.

 

  • DeMarco Andrews (1,363 yards, 20 touchdowns, 75 carries) and DeAndre Rosalie (695, 9, 75) of Daegu High, which is sending players to Team USA for the first time. The two combined for 465 yards and 10 touchdowns in the Warriors’ record-setting 60-50 Far East Division II title-game victory at Matthew C. Perry, which is also sending players for the first time, Mick Carreiro and Caeleb Ricafrente.

USFJ dependents to play in charity game for Yankees great Jeter

Looks as if a dozen-plus teen-aged baseball players from DODDS schools in Japan will get a chance to play for former New York Yankees great Derek Jeter.

According to an e-mail received from Yokota High School Athletics Director Tim Pujol, U.S. Forces Japan command staff have been tasked with representing the American side of a charity fundraiser baseball game scheduled for March 21 at Tokyo Dome.

Kanto teams dominate prep rankings

It’s all-Kanto, all the time atop the latest edition of Sports Blog’s high school basketball Top 10s and wrestling Fine Five.
Boys basketball
1, Yokota, Japan (10-0): Still playing at elite level, a solid favorite in next month’s Far East Division II Tournament.
2, Kadena, Okinawa (18-6): Level at 2-2 against Kubasaki in regular-season and tournament play; captured Okinawa-American Friendship Tournament on buzzer-beater vs. Dragons.
3, Kubasaki, Okinawa (18-7): Led all but the final second of the Oki-Am final; game could have gone either way.
4, Seoul American (11-0): A Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Blue Division title in coach James Davis’ first season; but oh, that scare against Osan two weeks ago.
5, George Washington, Guam (7-1): Kind of a surprise bursting out of the gate, took the league’s preseason tournament title.
6, Osan American, South Korea (7-2): Up one notch after giving the Falcons that close shave two weeks ago; Nick White has been on fire.
7, John F. Kennedy, Guam (5-2): One of four teams expected to contend for top honors on island, playing like it.
8, Matthew C. Perry, Japan (14-1): Stumbled last weekend in the Western Japan Athletic Association Tournament, but still playing solidly.
9, E.J. King, Japan (10-5): Cobras 6-2 in last eight, captured second straight WJAA Tournament title.
10, Okkodo, Guam (6-3): Third of four Guam teams in hunt for island title, not as good a start as they’d hoped for.

Girls basketball
1, American School In Japan (10-2): Still have the height plus serviceable guard play to make run at second straight Far East D-I title.
2, Kadena (19-6): Have come on strong since slow season start, second in MLK, winners of Oki-Am for fourth straight year.
3, Southern, Guam (12-1): Season complete.
4, Seoul American (10-1): Following season-opening overtime loss, Falcons have gotten it together, 10 straight wins.
5, Yokota (9-2): Panthers are even in their last four games after 7-0 start.
6, Okkodo, Guam (11-2): Season complete.
7, Taejon Christian International (10-2): Like Yokota, Dragons have gone 2-2 in last four after gangbusters start.
8, John F. Kennedy, Guam (10-3): Season complete.
9, Seoul Foreign (8-3): Any time Maddie Thies is on the court, Crusaders are in the game with a chance to win.
10, Robert D. Edgren (7-2): Vanessa Black is still this team’s unquestioned leader, but Coko Magby is having some say in the Eagles’ success.
Wrestling
1, Nile C. Kinnick: Captured Kanto Plain regular-season title with 12-0 dual-meet mark, has won titles in three tournaments; body of work moves them ahead of Kadena.
2, Kadena: But not by much. Panthers swept the regular-season series with Kubasaki; have no tournament experience (yet; they’ll host Okinawa Open on Saturday).
3, Seoul American: Unbeaten regular season thus far in Korea, placed third at the “Beast” Tournament earlier this month
4, Kubasaki: Four dual-meet losses to Kadena, fourth-place showing at “Beast,” best team without a victory this season.
5, Roberrt D. Edgren: Best of the Division II lot in Japan, could make deep run at a Far East Tournament D-II title repeat.

 
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Ornauer on AFN

 

Stars and Stripes reporter Dave Ornauer talks about the Pacific sports scene on AFN Radio. (Click on right arrow to play file.)

 

March 20: Several DODDS athletes have track records in their sites as season starts off at a sprint.

March 13: Spring isn't officially here yet, but the spring sports season is beginning in the Pacific.

March 6: Dave reviews the latest and greatest in the world of Pacific sports.