Things learned, observed in Pacific high school football Week 9.0
Published: October 16, 2011
Year after year, I hear the same thing: Why aren’t Pacific international and Guam public/private school teams invited to play in DODDS Pacific’s Far East Division I football playoffs?
I for one have long advocated it. Non-DODDS schools in Tokyo, Guam, Hong Kong, Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore and elsewhere have long been invited guests at Far East tournaments in a variety of sports, and there’s never been a problem with the issues that keep being brought up as obstacles to such a football playoff: Different eligibility tracking and accounting systems.
Here’s how DODDS can, should and must do it: Insist to Guam island power George Washington or Tokyo’s independent American School In Japan or the Singapore American Community Action Council (fancy name for MWR) Falcons that they follow the same eligibility requirements as teams that play in Far East basketball, soccer, wrestling, tennis, cross-country, baseball, softball and track and field meets.
-- Eight semesters clock ticking once a student enters the classroom for his freshman year.
-- No fifth-year seniors.
-- No students aged 19 before Sept. 1 of that school year.
-- Students must maintain a 2.0 grade-point average with no Fs.
If they do that, they should be more than welcome.
History shows that non-DODDS schools are more than compliant and accountable when it comes to such issues. One example: In 1986. ASIJ’s boys basketball team fielded a 6-foot-7 fifth-year senior, Bryan Nelson (now a Tokyo-based TV producer). Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools policy permitted him to play regular-season games, but he could not – and did not – suit up for the Mustangs in the Far East D-I basketball tournament.
Quarterback Derek Santos and running back Keanu Lujan and the Interscholastic Football League regular-season champion George Washington Geckos (7-0), 36-12 winners Saturday against Okkodo in the IFL semifinals, deserve a shot at Far East glory as much as anybody.
Quarterback Hayden Jardine (41-for-93, 555 yards, 3 touchdowns this season), running backs Ken Yajima (379 yards, 4 touchdowns, 57 carries) and Haru Kent (328, 4, 48) and receiver Sam Hopkins (213 yards, 2 touchdowns, 17 catches) and American School In Japan’s Mustangs – 35-6 winners Saturday over Nile C. Kinnick at homecoming, and the only team to beat Yokota this season – also deserve a shot.
Let's give them one!
Is there anybody out there who can produce an updated, total-issue-addressing, fully encompassing copy of the Pacific high school football “mercy rule,” which dictates things like a running clock when the winning team opens up a huge lead?
Didn’t think so. No such thing exists currently, at least to my knowledge.
This issue came up Saturday night at Camp Zama, where Kubasaki, en route to a 48-9 victory over Zama American, took a 32-point lead with 3:52 left in the third quarter and officials signaled for the clock to run after the ensuing kickoff.
Coaches on both sides seemed to disagree on what several of the “mercy rule” nuances were, which players had to come out, whether they could blitz or pass, etc. There was even disagreement over whether teams could use timeouts to change personnel, etc.
Guam’s Interscholastic Football League has no such rule; league president Martin Boudreau says at a certain point, the officials ask the coaches if they agree to a running clock.
What the “mercy rule” actually says, I think, varies from officiating crew to officiating crew.
As far as I know, the magic number is 30. Once a team assumes a 30-point lead, the clock becomes a running clock; regulation clock resumes once the lead diminishes to 20 points.
That issue should be addressed and those fine points clarified and published far and wide after the next DODDS Far East Athletics Council meeting in May on Okinawa.
There should be one standard “mercy rule” for DODDS football leagues in Korea, Okinawa and Japan, at the very least: 30-point lead, running clock; diminish back to 20 points, regulation clock; starters must leave the field when possible, if a team has enough players to substitute for the starters; no blitzing or stunting on defense, no passing on offense. And the substitution rule should apply to BOTH teams.
The intent of the “mercy rule” was to speed up games that get out of hand, reduce injuries and prevent the possibility of tempers spilling over, especially from the losing side.
How about some clarification, eh?
It took a few years, but I’ve finally seen a running back with the same breakaway speed as Jared Warner of Nile C. Kinnick in 1996 and Sean Shattuck of Kadena in 2006.
Kubasaki’s Jarrett Mitchell, the sophomore of the 676 yards and five touchdowns on 60 carries this season, is certainly the most dangerous running back the Dragons has possessed since David Motu in Kubasaki’s 2005 Far East D-I title season.
Exhibit A: Mitchell’s last carry of the evening in Saturday’s romp over Zama, in which he gained 174 yards on 11 carries and scored two touchdowns. Quarterback Cristian Rivera ran right down the line, then tossed an option pitch to Mitchell, who turned the right corner and cut in the afterburners, almost like Carl Lewis leaping out of the blocks at the sound of the start gun. He was absolutely gone, passing some Zama defenders like they were standing still.
The bad news for the rest of the Pacific: Mitchell is a sophomore and the dependent of a DODDS educator. He’s lived on Okinawa all his life. He’s not going anywhere.
Speaking of young speedsters, how about Yokota freshman Tre Bailey, he of the 567 yards on 43 carries with nine touchdowns in just the last four games? This team isn’t just about Morgan Breazell; you have to account for Bailey as well as Scott Hanson, Michael Litman, Trenton “Tractor” Traylor, Preston Brooks, a whole gaggle of backs. And the Panthers continue to pass the ball effectively.
Need any more proof that Amanda Henderson is in good position to defend her title in the Far East cross-country meet’s 3.1-mile girls individual race? Saturday in a Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference meet at Namsan Park in Seoul, Henderson clocked the fasted 3.1-mile time in the Pacific this season, 19 minutes, 56 seconds, finishing nearly two minutes ahead of teammate Monica Paulk (21:40). The KAIAC season-ending meet is in less than two weeks at International Christian School-Uijongbu, followed by Far East. Her time indicates that she’s peaking at the right time.
Gotta love those pink socks that Kubasaki’s football players wore on their right legs during Saturday’s football game at Zama. Breast cancer awareness is the thing in October, and the Dragons to a man were in full support. They know what’s up.
And gotta love those maroon blazers seen in the lobby of Tokyo's New Sanno Hotel at the start of Far East Journalism that Matthew C. Perry mandates their athletes, in fact all types of traveling teams in any vocation, wear while on bus or plane trips going anywhere. Very ABC Sports 1970s-ish. Made me launch into my old Howard Cosell voice impressions from back in the day.
Seriously, the wear of uniforms by teams should be viewed as a point of pride for those teams. They represent and stand for something. They’re expected to rise to a certain standard as a result, body language, conversation, the whole smash Sure, they’re probably uncomfortable to wear in the late summer heat of September, but overall, I’ve liked the whole civilian uniform concept since black slacks, white shirts and black bow ties were mandated for Zama American’s football team road trips in 2007.
Homecoming at Mustang Valley is always a treat, if nothing else because of all the people you run into whom you only thought you’d forgotten. Among the visitors, Robert Winer, ASIJ’s old headmaster until 1993, when he retired; he hadn’t been back to Japan since. Dan Bender was ASIJ’s elementary school principal when three of my children went there. Mayumi Nakayama, Class of 1996, was the Mustangs’ baseball manager whom I would continually pester for stats and game information; she’s now an ASIJ parent. I know I forgot about 50 others whom I saw there, but those three stood out.