USFJ-AFL update: Guild, Huewitt sparkle on Saturday
Published: June 27, 2010
Just when their teams needed a huge boost following June 19 defeats, Fredrick Guild of Yokota and Joseph Huewitt of Joint Task Force came through when they needed it most in the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League's penultimate weekend.
Guild, the Warriors' backup quarterback, tossed a touchdown pass to Darius Merritt and rambled 25 yards for a second TD on a quarterback keeper in the final two minutes, as Yokota wrapped up the North Division title 22-8 over Misawa. The Warriors snapped a two-game losing streak after opening 3-0; the Jets, who had won their last two games, fell to 2-4 and second place.
Then, there was the 6-foot-6 Huewitt, receiver and free safety, who caught his third touchdown pass and second drive-killing interception in two weeks, pacing the South-leading Wolfpack (4-1) to a 14-0 shutout of Kadena (2-3). JTF now only needs to beat Kadena on Friday at Courtney Bowl to wrap up the South Division title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
A nice lift for each victor. JTF suffered a surprise 20-13 loss to defending champion Foster (4-2), while Yokota fell 40-28 at Kadena the week before.
Thusly, last-place Yokosuka (1-5), which sent a few canaries to watch the game, travels to Misawa on July 10 for the North Division semifinal game. Speaking of canaries, a few of them told SportsBlog that the Seahawks got in some untapped talent off a few ships and shore, and with two weeks to practice, the Seahawks hope to make some noise at Misawa on the 10th.
Likewise, Misawa should have its full complement of players, and historically, Hillside Field has been one of the most inhospitable places for visiting teams to play (at least until the start of last season).
Yokota will also be awaiting the outcome of Friday's JTF-Kadena game at Courtney Bowl to see who will earn home field for the playoffs. If Kadena springs an upset, then JTF, Foster and Yokota will each be 4-2. Yokota beat Foster this season, JTF split its two games with Foster and JTF did not play Yokota. It would then come down to two points tiebreakers: One to determine the South champion, the other to determine home field for the playoffs.
I would not envy first-year league commissioner Sean Dath if that were to happen.
But if Wolfpack coach Darell Keith's words after Saturday's game ring true, then no tiebreaker scenario will happen.
As I attempted to explain the numbers to both Keith and Foster coach Auburne Edwards postgame on the sideline, Keith interrupted me twice, asserting: "Kadena's not going to win." I persisted, but after awhile, I could sense that he'd simply tuned me out.
Now, that's a confident coach if I've ever seen one. :)
Eatery of the week: While JTF and Kadena battled it out at Courtney Bowl, the former home of the Okinawa Football League in 2004-05, Edwards and several of his Foster charges spent the game barbequeing on a rise overlooking the field. Simple menu, but the hot dogs were terrific.
Memo to Dath: Strongly urge consideration of moving the Torii Bowl championship game, slated for July 24, a week later, to July 31. Give the lower remaining seed a few days' more time to schedule transportation to and from wherever the game venue might be; travel to Japan or Okinawa and back is no walk in the park, although we've had no such trips postponed or canceled this year (tap wood). Just saying.