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Things learned, observed in Pacific high school football Week 11.0

Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as the wheels turn in Ornauer’s head, speculating on what a Singapore vs. Yokota football matchup would be like:

-- Yokota a clear-cut No. 1? Singapore might have a say: Everything on Yokota football’s docket is now complete after Saturday’s 52-12 battering of Kadena, save for one last task: the DODDS Pacific Far East Division I championship game it hosts on Nov. 17 against Kubasaki. The rematch of last year’s 34-6 title-game win over Kubasaki. The rematch of last month’s 31-6 win by Yokota at Kubasaki.

But is that really the capper for Yokota’s season as most people see it?

This writer would love to see a showdown on Thanksgiving Saturday pitting the Singapore Falcons at Yokota, or vice versa.

It’s the matchup that makes the most sense now, since Yokota has already beaten every one of its opponents, Singapore has beaten all four of its DODDS foes, including Kubasaki and Kadena by a combined 26 points, and the Falcons and Yokota have yet to face each other.

Sidebar to the above: This is NOT to presume that a Yokota victory on Nov. 17 over Kubasaki is a foregone conclusion. I’d never presume that, nor should anybody else, since the game still has to be played between the lines and not on paper.

But could you imagine? Jeff Scott with his seven touchdowns in four games against DODDS opponents, Josh Dawe’s all-around play and quarterback Liam Nelligan’s deft touch against Yokota’s “Killer B’s” backfield of Morgan Breazell (1,030 yards, 15 touchdowns, 101 carries), Raymond “Ice Man” Butler (1,120, 12, 83), Donovan Ball and triggerman Stanley Speed (535, 11, 46; 10-for-14, 346 yards, 4 TDs).

Two lines that practically mirror each other in terms of physical size. Both teams with a run-first mentality. And guys like Jamie Matisin who’s been coaching in Singapore since Jesus was a baby and Tim Pujol who’s an institution at Yokota, guys who simply ensure their teams are coached up in every way.

Japanese Labor Thanksgiving is Nov. 23. Time is running short to buy those tickets, either from Narita to Changi or vice versa.

-- Best Singapore team ever?: The above-named Matisin is refusing to make comparisons between his current Falcons crop and the one in 1998, led by Paul Ackerman, which scored Singapore’s first victory against another American high school team, beating the Korea Senior All-Stars 7-6 on a frigid November 1998 afternoon. Having only seen the former play, I can only go with what people say about the current Falcons, and the praise singing is leaving the 1998 crop in the dust.

-- No quit in Kadena: Despite the one-sided margin of Yokota’s victory over Kadena, the latter showed not one iota of quit in them, even after falling behind by 35 points in the game’s first 15:27. Coach Sergio Mendoza’s lot is a prideful one. Not once did I see any sign of sagging body language. Not once did I note anything negative, other than a tad bit of chippiness between the two teams late in the second quarter. Justin Sego and Joey Dyer, Kadena’s J-Birds, combined for 296 all-purpose yards, with Sego scoring both touchdowns. Outsized in the line but not backing down, Kadena once more proved it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.

-- Two thousand-yarders for Yokota: See those gaudy rushing totals above? Yokota has for the first time since Jo-Jo Anthony and Darren Taylor in 2000 a pair of 1,000-yard rushers on the roster.

-- Three officials? What’s up with that?: Would somebody explain to me how it’s possible to have just three officials at a varsity high school football game in the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools? Friday’s Zama American at American School In Japan game featured just that, a white hat, a linesman and a field judge. No umpire. Small wonder no holding penalties were called, and only five flags total were enforced.

You mean, nobody else was available from the United Services For Japan Officials Association? Could it be a few were concerned about beating it back to the gates before the curfew imposed by U.S. Forces Japan commanding officer Lt. Gen. Sam Angelella a week-plus ago? Why didn’t USFJOA ask for help from the Japan-American Sports Officials Association, request that Jerry Tullos or Kyle Rhodus lend a hand?

That there were seven officials for Saturday’s Kadena at Yokota game was a huge relief. But at a minimum for ANY football game, there should be a white hat, an umpire, a linesman and a field judge.

-- Time keeping: That field judge should also be keeping the official time on the field, unless there’s a certified official working the game clock in the booth. Too many times, a member of the community, usually a high-school student who isn’t familiar with what situations force a clock stoppage, is put on that duty. And pretty soon, the discrepancy between the field judge’s watch and the scoreclock is as much as three minutes.

-- Mitchell the record holder: In all the excitement of the last couple of weeks of determining who’ll host the D-I title game, overlooked was Kubasaki junior Jarrett Mitchell breaking the Okinawa single-season rushing record. He came away from the Singapore defeat with 47 yards on 13 carries with the Dragons’ lone touchdown. That gives Mitchell 1,326 yards on 126 carries, which breaks the old record of 1,225 set in 2010 by Kubasaki’s Deon Lewis.

-- Nice comeback by ASIJ:  With eight minutes left, Mustang Valley was as quiet as a library, save for Zama American celebrating Andre Encarnacion’s third touchdown of Friday’s game, giving him a Pacific-leading 16, which put the Trojans up 19-7. With 52.8 seconds left, cheering returned to the American School In Japan sideline as Henry Wallrapp rushed 2 yards for a touchdown and Takumi Riordan tacked on the extra point to rally the Mustangs past Zama 20-19. Good way to wrap up the season, with ASIJ’s third straight win.

-- Drogin the little giant: Largely responsible for ASIJ staying in the game and coming from behind was the play of diminutive senior receiver-defensive back Drogin James. What a way to cap his career. Two touchdown catches on a play called Z corner. Two clutch catches, one on third down, the other on fourth down to keep the game-winning touchdown drive alive. And a last-second interception to kill Zama’s last-ditch attempt to win it.

-- Zama more than ready for Edgren: Given how hard ASIJ had to fight back, Zama proved it’s more than battle-tested and ready to go for the third matchup, this one for all the Division II marbles, at home Saturday against well-rested (or rather rusty?) Robert D. Edgren, which hasn’t played since losing at Zama 40-17 on Oct. 18. And I’d expect more than a huge game from Encarnacion, who’ll enter the final game of his career with 1,178 yards and a Pacific-leading 16 touchdowns on 148 carries.

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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.)

 

Nov. 7: Dave Ornauer talks about Far East championship week, stepping off with cross country.

Oct. 24: Dave Ornauer talks about cross country, football and other Pacific sporting events occurring this weekend.

Oct. 17: The Nile C. Kinnick football team can ensure its fans have good seats for the Far East Division I final with a win over Kadena on Saturday.