High school football Week 6 lookback: What we learned Friday
Published: October 4, 2008
What we learned Friday, a night when two champions were crowned and a crucial series for a Class A title game berth was extended to the last week of the regular season:
-- So Osan American lost its starting quarterback and doesn't have the speed and quickness of its Daegu and Seoul counterparts? Easy answer: Play to your strength. Mike Gilliam off-tackle left. Jesse Crockett off-tackle right. Occasional keeper by backup QB Adonte' Murry. Three yards and a cloud of ... field turf? And a healthy dosage of defense (four interceptions doesn't hurt, a three-pack by Will Rapoza alone). Reminds me much of 1995 Zama American and J.W. Smith, and a playbook that seemingly consisted of two plays, good enough to beat league champion Nile C. Kinnick 7-0 in the season finale. First time in the four-season history of the Far East playoffs that the Osan-Daegu season series comes down to a third game.
-- You think, after that 25-point second-half eruption at home to Nile C. Kinnick, that American School In Japan doesn't want another crack at Yokota? Alex Busam continues to pile up touchdowns the same way I used to collect baseball cards. Even Kurt Bryan, the founding father of the A-11 offense at California's Piedmont High, has inquired about Air ASIJ. Heady times these are in Mustang Valley.
-- Still don't think defense wins championships? Look at the last five times three-time Okinawa Activities Council champion Kadena has played Kubasaki, dating back to last season. The Panthers defense has held the Dragons to one touchdown in that span, while the offense has posted 142 points; this season's margin is 56-0, with one game left Friday at Kubasaki. Kadena has forced 14 turnovers, including nine interceptions. The Dragons' deepest penetration this season? A start of possession on Kadena's 28 late in the first half of Kadena's 13-0 Game 1 win on Sept. 5. Special teams hasn't hurt, either; thanks to the big left leg of Kadena's Aaron Ahner, 19 of Kubasaki's 32 possessions began at the 20 or inside the 20.
-- That 18-14 loss Sept. 20 at Kubasaki sure lit a fire under Yokota, particularly the interior, which have helped quarterback DeEric Harvin and tailback Derick "Rookie" Seward shine the last two weeks. Harvin only amassed 293 all-purpose yards in Friday's 49-12 romp over Zama American. Under center, he went7-for-11, 179 yards, 3 touchdown passes. Three interceptions on defense. "Rookie"hasonly run for 504 yards and a touchdown on 54 carries. Allthat with team leader Tony Presnell still on the shelf with a shoulder separation.
-- One might try to imagine how much better Yokota may have played Kubasaki with a healthy Presnell, or if ASIJ's win might have been bigger if Nick Wells weren't on the shelf, or if Osan's attack might be more diverse with Rashad Bell back on the field. We'll never know. That's football. Injuries and personnel are part of the package. All three teams have manned up and moved on.
-- Three straight OAC championships and counting for Kadena. Ten straight Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools titles for Yokota. Apropos that one of their school colours is gold; should Kadena win its Nov. 1 Class AA semifinal vs. Guam High andif Yokota can clinch DODDS-Japan's Class AA berthand beat Seoul American in the other semifinal, you'd have a Nov. 8 Class AA championship meeting of teams that manysee as the gold standard in the Pacific.
-- But don't go counting your DODDS-Japan titles just yet. Still looming on Yokota's schedule: That Oct. 24 trip to Misawa Air Base, where Robert D. Edgren has played the Panthers to one-point losses the last two seasons, each on controversial two-point conversion misses. That game won't affect Yokota's Class AA semifinal chances, but it could be a major obstacle in Yokota's path to a 10th straight DODDS-Japan title.
-- Guam High's staying within five points of defending Interscholastic Football League champion Father Duenas Memorial last week should have signalled that itwas a matter of time before the Friars would fall. Insiders tell me that the Sharks, who led the Friars in the Aug. 29 season opener,simply gassed out; else they'd have not lost 21-12. For those wondering, Sanchez hasn't won the league title outright since going 9-1 in 1995; the Sharks shared the championshp in 2000 and 2001 with the very same Friars.
-- 142 days.