Things learned, observed in Pacific high school football Week 8.0
Published: October 10, 2011
It’s been a few years, but Seoul American football is starting to look like its old championship self again.
Ty White’s 611 yards and five touchdowns on 95 carries have boosted the Falcons to at least a tie for their first DODDS Korea title since last winning the Far East Division I crown in 2008. That’s been the common denominator for both of the Falcons’ D-I title seasons – a solid running back, David Smalls in 2006 and Trinadai Stansel in 2008, stingy defense and solid line play.
Talk to Rydell Wilkins, the Falcons’ first-year head coach, and you get the feeling the guy comes from the same coaching school that produced those two previous titles. “We’re trying to be more competitive,” he says. “We’re doing better, but we still have a lot to work on.”
Almost like listening to the coach of those 2006 and ’08 teams, Julian Harden, voicing up. “If better is possible, good is not enough,” Harden always told his charges, whether they be football, wrestling, softball … and it sure seems as if Wilkins is imparting that same wisdom on the current Falcons.
Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars, Casey Kasem used to say years ago on American Top 40. No doubt, Wilkins and Harden subscribe to the same school. Work hard, enjoy the triumphs, but always remain humble.
Thanks to a newfound passing flair, Yokota got back on a winning track on Friday at home against Zama American, in what turned out to be a happy homecoming in the wake of the Panthers’ first loss of the season 13-9 the week before at American School In Japan.
Yokota’s two-pronged ground machine did much of the mail carrying, freshman Tre Bailey 127 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries and junior Morgan Breazell 92 yards on 10 attempts; the Panthers ran for six touchdowns overall in a 47-7 romp over Seoul American.
But it was Stanley Speed who surprised everyone. Prior to Friday, Yokota had completed just one pass the entire season. Going an economical 5-for-8 for 71 yards, Speed threw 44 yards to Jarred Morgan for the Panthers’ first touchdown pass of the season. Speed also ran a 1-yard sneak for a touchdown.
Yokota can now count its 12th DODDS Japan and Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools football titles since Tim Pujol, the best coach in Panthers history, in 1999 took the reins of a program that had gone 1-17 the two previous years.
At 105-19, Pujol holds the best winning percentage in Panthers history behind 1980s coaching icon Bud Blevins, holds the school record for most victories and most DODDS Japan and Kanto league titles – in fact, is believed to be second all-time in Pacific high school football coaching wins behind Loring Cruz of George Washington on Guam.
As for Zama, their two-pronged attack of juniors Mitchell Harrison and Andre Encarnacion, who entered the game with a combined 1,275 yards and 17 touchdowns on 133 carries, were held to 69 yards total on 13 attempts.
Too many mistakes, penalties, turnovers, plenty of defensive stops by Yokota, and the Trojans’ three-game winning streak went by the boards. They’ll get another chance on Oct. 21 at Zama.
So, Guam High lost its shot at a Far East D-I title and fell to 0-6 in first-round D-I playoff games since their inception in 2005?
Quite all right. After fading 6-0 last Monday at Kadena in the D-I play-in game, the Panthers simply began going about the business of defending their Guam Interscholastic Football League title by opening the IFL postseason with a 20-0 shutout of Southern, the second shutout win by Guam High over the Dolphins this season.
Sean Sweet, who had a rough afternoon at Kadena, picked himself up, dusted himself off and ran for a pair of TDs against Southern, and also went 6-for-9 for 78 yards. Matt Eaton caught six passes for 95 yards, just a day after being named runner-up for MVP on the IFL All-Island team.
But it was the same defense that kept Kadena out of the end zone, held the Panthers to 95 yards and just two field goals, which ruled the day against the Dolphins as well. Nijee Smith and T-Rock Eaton combined for 25 tackles, and brothers Damian and Logan Dimmick cobbled together 19.
Now, Guam High will host in Saturday’s semifinal a Simon Sanchez team that they’d better expect to be far different from the one the Panthers shut out 27-0 on Aug. 27.