Published: May 29, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer quickly realizes the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League championship pairing is by far a done deal:
-- Two games, two comeback victories by the teams leading their respective USFJ-AFL divisions, Joint Task Force (2-0), the South leader, rallying from behind 18-6 to defeat visiting Misawa 26-24 on a last-minute touchdown run by Eddie Hamilton and two-point conversion by Michael Geddie, plus a Joseph Huewitt interception to lock it down on Friday. And backup QB Fredrick Guild’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Darius Merritt and Kevin Fortin’s two-point run as North Division leader Yokota (3-0) came back from a 12-0 first-half deficit to edge defending champion Foster 16-12 on Saturday.
No question, JTF coach Darell Keith knew his team had been in a fight. "They’re awesome," Keith said of the Jets, whom he said came undermanned and "took the fight to us."
Meanwhile, Yokota kept up its best start to a season since winning the old USFJ league title in 1994 and the Japanese Grandheights club league crown in 1994-95, back in the days when Ventrus Boyd would fling TD passes to Aaron "Scat" Christopher or J.J. Harris, and linebacker Marcus Tilley would separate many a ballcarrier from the ball and their helmets.
"They’re no joke," Yokosuka coach James Price said of Yokota, which steamrolled his Seahawks twice this season by a combined 70-14 margin. Price says it’s not just the play of Fortin (331 yards, four touchdowns this season), but Brown and the line, particularly the tight ends, who plow the road for Fortin and protect QBs Guild and Ryan Jones, the regular starter.
Price likens this season to the one four years ago, when the top playoff seed was up for grabs until the last regular-season weekend and cellar-dwelling Atsugi surprised by winning its last two games. "I like it when everything's up in the air like this," he said.
Yokota coach Selwyn Jones said the victory was for far more than the Warriors’ North Division standing, but for the North Division itself, which had been derided by its Southern counterparts, who suggested that the pendulum had swung in its direction. "This was for us," Jones said, invoking the division’s nickname: "The Black and Blue lives."
Published: May 29, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer realizes it’s him, not the walk from the Dragon to Lombardo getting longer and longer every year:
-- One has to wonder how much longer the Pacificwide Open Interservice Softball Tournament will go on, given the number of games forfeited or canceled during pool play. A record 36 the first 2½ days, 19 of 72 men’s games and an incredible 17 of 30 women’s games.
"Most I’ve ever seen," said LaRoy Slaughter, host Yongsan women’s assistant coach who’s seen this tournament since its inception in 1991.
To be fair, there were extenuating circumstances, such as duty that kept a handful of Korea-based Army post teams away on Friday. A broken rotator grounded at Naval Air Facility Atsugi the flight that was to take Misawa Air Base’s three teams from Japan to Korea. And two Korean women’s teams found they simply didn’t have enough players to begin games.
But one Korean men’s team, sponsored by Otis Elevator, simply walked away after being hammered 31-0 by Osan Air Base in a two-inning game.
One game was played on women’s Field 3 on Friday; eight were scheduled. One women’s team, from Korea’s Camp Casey, had to sit for hours through two forfeits just to take the field for one game. "It wears on you," coach David Hill said.
How long was the wait for some? Coach Tom Costello of International Guzzlers usually spends the entire weekend at the fields; on Friday, he said, he went home and got seven hours’ sleep. "I’ve not gotten that much sleep in a tournament in years," he said.
It was suggested a few times Saturday by the tournament’s sponsor, Drash, that the event be segregated into two pools, one of varsity or open teams, the other of company-level teams, to level the playing field.
-- All-Air Force veteran catcher Harold Branch, now an engineer at Korea’s Camp Humphreys, remembers when the tournament was vibrant, drawing as many as 36 men’s teams one year and holding a wildly competitive edge despite Pacific Force’s dominance.
"Those were wonderful years," said Branch, 51, a Chicagoan who retired as a senior master sergeant in June 2005. "Now, it seems like it’s dead. Softball isn’t what it used to be. We even had leadership backing us back in the day; now, they say the mission comes first, but sometimes they don’t really make it clear. It kind of confuses me."
Branch played for Yokota Air Base teams that featured crafty veteran pitcher Jerry "Juice" Covington, third baseman Jim Dwyer, shortstop Clint Harvin and slugging Roger Underwood, teams that made the 1989 and 1991 Pacific Air Forces Tournament final, but lost in two games each to Clark Air Base, Philippines, and 11th Air Force, Alaska.
-- How neat to see Eric Hale of Osan Air Base sporting an old Pacific Force T-shirt. Hale briefly played for the now-defunct Pacific powerhouse in the 1990s; under a variety of sponsors, Pacific Force still holds the record of 39 titles in the Pacific interservice Grand Slam circuit starting in 1989. Kadena Air Base, which no longer fields a varsity women’s team, holds the distaff record with 20.
-- Speaking of Pacific Force, one veteran of those battles, Gary Chaney, now plays for defending champion American Legion, the second-most decorated team in the tournament behind Scrapalators. Chaney was four times All-Marine and twice All-Armed Forces; Richie Krause, who’s about to retire, went All-Marine three times; outfielder Chadd Malin is five times All-Air Force; Bob Willard made the All-Marine team for the first time last year; Gary LaFon has made the Air Force team once; and Chris "Moose" Bast is four times All-Air Force and twice All-Armed Forces.
-- Hale is one of three players in the tournament who played for the last base team to win the title, Osan in 2002. Hale and Brian Whelan, who both play for Osan again, and William "Skeeter" Johnson, who plays for the Scrapalators, were part of an Osan unit that won twice in the double-elimination finals, coming out of the loser’s bracket to oust host Camp Casey.
-- The only other two base teams to win the championship? Osan Air Base, with slugging Jason Parker, in 1997, and Kunsan Air Base, the "Look to the East" gang, in 1992. Every other men’s title has been won by an open team, four straight by Pacific Force from 1993-97 and five straight by Costello’s Guzzlers from 2004-08.
-- Interesting accoutrements being worn by some players in the tournament. Guzzler Josh Miller, who plays for an open team in Minnesota called the Pink Plungers, brought a pair of oversized pink sunglasses to the tournament; players took turns batting with them on. And Osan, poking a bit of fun at All-Air Force veteran Chris Markey, wore white towels on their belts over their left butt cheeks, with each player’s number, name and … well, I’ll draw the curtain of charity on this portion of this post by saying only "an expression that suits each."
-- Usually, it’s catchers who wear masks on the field; Alex Miller of Yongsan, a pitcher, wears a catcher’s mask to the mound and can be seen backing away at rapid pace after delivering each pitch. Face it, a softball pitcher stands less than 50 feet from home plate, and sometimes batted balls fly up the middle at a pace so fast, they’re sometimes unseen by the pitcher. "Safety first," Miller says. Can’t blame him.
Published: May 28, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer makes the quick transition to the military sports mindset after spending nine months in Pacific high school sports heaven:
Some things that never change about the Pacificwide Open Interservice Softball Tournament, now in its 20th edition at Yongsan Garrison’s Lombardo Field FourPlex:
-- Great stage and proving ground to see where your game stands, especially if you plan a run at one of 15 berths on your respective All-Service softball team.
Mike Jenkins of Osan Air Base, three times All-Air Force and twice All-Armed Forces, had heard of the Pacwide during his 16 years at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, "so I wanted to come and see what it’s about. Hopefully, I’ll get to do it again next year," said the 38-year-old master sergeant from Lakeland Fla. (Tigers represent!).
-- Great place to run into ballplayers you’ve not seen in a long time and meet those with whom you were only acquainted through a newsclip or a list of All-Armed Forces players on a Web site somewhere.
And they come from everywhere to play here. Winning the Frequent Flyer Miles award in this year’s tournament: Lynell McLeod, an Air Force staff sergeant assigned to Moody Air Force Base, near Valdosta, Ga. "Camaraderie," he says of the main attraction of the tournament. He hasn’t gone to the All-Armed Forces stage yet, he says, because he plays for a USSSA traveling team called Art Explosion, and the USSSA Military Worlds takes place the week after All-Armed Forces. That may change this year, he says.
-- Some of the names of players here read like a who’s who of All-Armed Forces softball. Chris Markey of Osan has gone to the show five times and made the All-Armed Forces team four of them. Gary Lafon of Hickam Air Force Base, Hawai’i, playing for defending men’s champion American Legion has been All-Air Force once and teammate Chadd Malin of Kadena Air Base has gone five times. Tina Cooper of Osan’s women’s team was named All-Air Force once; Lisa Webb of Okinawa’s Yard Busters is a three-time All-Marine.
-- For the first time in five years, not one player is visiting the tournament from Europe.
-- Perhaps the most pedigreed team is the Scrapalators, a collection of All-Army and All-Air Force players from throughout the Pacific and the States. Try this: A combined 49 All-Army and All-Air Force selections, 25 All-Armed Forces selections, 12 Amateur Softball Association national majors titles, 20 Military Worlds appearances, 23 gold medals … and 39 combat tours, most in Afghanistan and Iraq. Leading that parade are current All-Army captain Elmer Mason (12 All-Army, six All-Armed Forces), matched by his former All-Army teammate, retired chief warrant officer Andy Watts.
-- There was a reason why the Scrapalators wore pink shirts to the field on Friday. The shirts honored Mason’s wife, Val, who is battling breast cancer and is at Tripler Army Hospital in Hawaii, set to undergo surgery. The shirt reads: "Scrapalators vs. Breast Cancer. Val, we love you. We’re home and we’ve got the hammer. Bring it on!" Ma$e tells me that Val is holding up like a trooper and is in high spirits.
-- David Hill is back at the helm of Camp Casey’s women’s team after a couple years’ absence, and he insists that his current group of Lady Warriors is better than the Lauren Shaw-led Warriors of two years ago. Two players have gone All-Army; Hill plans to send five more to All-Army camp this summer, including Lisa Harris, an infielder who has played college ball for Elizabeth City State University of North Carolina. Check them out on Facebook at Lady Warriors Fan Club.
-- Drash, a military gear outlet based in Orangeburg, N.Y., has taken over sponsorship of this and the July 4th Firecracker Shootout tournament on Okinawa. Primarily serving the military made the 20th Pacificwide "a good fit" for Drash, said company representative Tommy May; he notes that a good 95 percent of Drash’s employees are either retired or former military. May himself is a retired Army master sergeant; the Branson, Mo., native turns 45 on Saturday and has been in Korea for five years.
-- Former Okinawa USO director Kevin Meade played in the Pacwide in its early days with Kadena Air Base teams; he was back at the tournament this week, and is now an information technologist with the 121st Combat Support Hospital near the tournament’s site. It’s his first time at the tournament since 1998 and his first time seeing the newly configured Lombardo Field FourPlex. "It’s amazing how the fields and the people have changed," he said. "It’s a lot better now than it used to be."
-- Had a nice reunion with two folk who helped lay the foundation for high school football in Korea, longtime Korea Youth Activities Senior Division coaches Bob Collins of the Yongsan Dragons and Enrique Blanco of the Yongsan Raiders. Collins, affiliated with the league for 13 seasons, coached future part-time starting quarterback at Southern Methodist David Page in 1994-95; Blanco coached current Seattle Seahawks practice squad member Wes Mallard in 1994-95; Mallard was drafted in the sixth round by the New York Giants after four years at Oregon.
Collins, 60, recently retired as the C-5 Civil Affairs at U.S. Forces Korea, now lives in SongT’an, a short walk from Osan Air Base and is now with the Korea Institute for Maritime Strategy. He’s writing a book about North Korea to be published in about six months. His son Aaron, also a former Dragons quarterback, works at Yongsan and is married with two young children; the younger son, Erik, also a former Dragons quarterback, is an Army sergeant deployed to Afghanistan. Blanco, 57, has been at Yongsan since 1989 in its department of public works, roads and grounds division; his three children are grown and he has two grandchildren.
"The years that we struggled to make it a high school program, finally led it to become a high school program," Collins said. "For guys like us, it makes us proud to see these kids grow, serve the community, become family men; it means a lot to us. It’s very satisfying."
He calls Page the "best athlete who has ever come through here" and the fact that Page and Mallard played against each other was the ironic thing.
He has noted over the years critics of Korea’s youth football, particularly in Japan, who compared Page and Collins’ offense to a Western Athletic Conference team going up against a Southeastern Conference team. That Page went to SMU and Mallard to the NFL "are two facts that can’t be disputed," Collins said.
-- Geckos Glaciers, a group of Canadians better versed in hockey than softball, won their first game on the field in this tournament in four years, beating Support Battalion Korea (formerly 8th U.S. Army) 16-11. They, among other teams in the tournament, wore shirts that said: "The drinking team with a softball problem." Geckos were brought back to Earth Friday evening 21-0 by Okinawa’s Club Red.
Published: May 26, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer bids farewell to the 2009-10 competitive Pacific high school sports year and turns his attention to the senior set, aka Pacificwide Open Interservice Softball Tournament in Korea:
-- OK, anybody out there still have doubts that Nile C. Kinnick is this year's pre-eminent track and field program in the Pacific? In the last two meets of the season, the May 15 Kanto Invitational and this week's Far East meet, the Red Devils girls dominated and the boys did enough to help Kinnick win the mythical combined championships in each meet.
-- That said, Kadena's boys, minus a handful of their stars from last season, continued their dominance of this season and the past decade, capturing first in last month's Mike Petty Memorial Meet and the Kanto Invitational.
-- How often do you see a relay runner drop the baton, crash into the starting-block cart ... then get up and pass three runners to give his team the lead for good? Chaun Lynn accomplished that remarkable feat during Tuesday's final event, the boys 1,600 relay, and Nile C. Kinnick edged out Seoul American in the process. Had Lynn not fallen? We might have seen a sub-3:30.
-- Give Kubasaki's A.J. Watson and Seoul American's Kristy Taylor the Pacific's mythical "Triple Crown" in the short sprints. They each won the 100 and 200 at Far East, as well as the Mike Petty Meet and the Kanto Invitational.
-- Quite a few customers came away feelnig just a tad empty after Far East, winning their respective events but knowing they could have gone a trifle faster. Examples were reigning Far East cross-country champions Siarria Ingram and Thomas Kim of Seoul American, who won five of six distance events but said afterward they could have run far better. Valerie James (400) of Kinnick was another. Lotty Smith of Kadena, who matched his personal best of 6-foot-4 in the high jump, missed three tries at 6-5 1/4; he is champing at the bit already for the first practice of 2011, now 271 days away. Lynn came nowhere close his 6.70-meter long jump of 10 days earlier at the Kanto Invitational. Even Watson and Taylor felt they'd not done as well as they could in the short sprints.
-- Eatery of the Week: Dragon Inn, outdoor version. Aside from the usual array of burgers and hot dogs, they put together a fine line of ribs, chicken wings, even spaghetti. And whoever came up with the idea of seasoning the burgers in Yoshinoya hot pepper deserves a real pat on the back.
-- Enjoyable travel moment of the Week: Back to roughing it on the train lines in Korea, took the A'Rex from Inchon to Kimpo International Airports (it will later this year open all the way to Seoul Station) and Metro Lines 5 and 6 from Kimpo to Noksapyong, a seven-minute walk away from the Dragon Hill Lodge's front desk. What was so enjoyable? The T-Money card, Seoul's answer to the Pasmo and Suica cards of Tokyo. Charge it up? No hassle with fumbling for change or wrinkled bills to buy tickets just as your train is pulling away.
-- How to get from Inchon Airport to Yongsan once the A'Rex line stretches all the way to Seoul? Don't go all the way to Seoul; get out one stop earlier, Gongdeok, and walk downstairs to Metro Line 6. Go three stops east, Hyochang Park, Samgakji, then Noksapyong. Takes forever to get up the escalators and stairs, but you're a stone's throw away from the Dragon Hill front desk.
Published: May 23, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer racks the soccer stag straps and begins the new countdown (274 days):
-- Exactly what organizers of the Far East Softball and Girls Class AA Soccer Tournaments did not want to have happen, happened on the first day. Torrential weekend rainfall left Kadena Air Base's Four Diamonds practically under water, forcing play to begin Tuesday. The same almost happened to Mike Petty and Upper Fields at Kubasaki, where soccer play was delayed four hours ... and perhaps shouldn't have even begun that day, considering the slippery, muddy conditions. Quite a few players walked off the field toward a $75 laundry bill.
-- Speaking of weather, Mark Lange continues working toward his doctorate in squeegeeing, thanks to heavy rain that put all three soccer fields at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni under water on Tuesday. Boys Class A Soccer Tournament play resumed Wednesday with just two matches; they finished the next day, losing just one match in the process. Seoul American and Daegu American also got wet stuff midway through the Boys Class AA and Girls Class A Tournaments, but field turf negated any concerns about play stoppage.
-- Far East baseball wasn't so lucky. While they got in the championship game Wednesday in rain, heavy at times, at Naval Air Facility Atsugi's Bandy Field, the third-, fifth- and seventh-place games were canceled altogether. Since those pairings featured intra-area matchups, it was easy to figure out the tiebreakers; Yokota won the season series over Zama American, Nile C. Kinnick over Robert D. Edgren and Seoul American over Daegu American. Still, you'd rather finish on the field instead of on some whiteboard somewhere.
-- By the second day of the week, the baseball and softball tournaments resembled an upside-down cake. In softball, Zama jolted pre-tournament favorite Kadena 2-1 with an Alysa Prather walk-off two-run homer, whioe Edgren used four walks, two wild pitches and three errors to down Korea champion Seoul American 6-2; baseball host Zama American got two doubles and two RBIs from Alec Holt in an 11-1 drubbing of Korea champion Seoul American.
-- By week's end, though, Kadena's girls and Kubasaki's boys, favored to win the baseball tournament, righted their ships. MVPs Desirae Seals and Patrick "Duck" Duffy hit and pitched their teams to their respective titles, Kadena crushing Edgren 22-9 in blazing sunshine and Kubasaki beating Kadena 8-4 in the rain. And talk about sweet redemption for Duffy; a year ago, he was removed from the team for an unspecified code of conduct violation. Now, look at him. Way to come back, Duck.
-- That's twice in the last two seasons, and four times overall, that Osan American's girls soccer team rebounded from a subpar performance in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Division I tournament (fourth this year, second last year) to win the Class A Tournament title. This year, a team that lost most of its scoring power left it up to a ferocious defense led by defensive MVP Alina Hauter and goalkeeper Deanne Polaski, the hero of last year's Zama Class AA Tournament champion team.
-- Speaking of 2009 Class AA champion Zama, they continue to bear a penchant for playing bonus soccer. No fewer than three of the Trojans' matches went to penalty-kick shootouts, this time going 2-1 in the process, including the seventh-place match. Ironic that Zama got dethroned by the same exact score they beat Kubasaki in last year's championship match.
-- The rivalry to end all rivalries, Faith Academy vs. Seoul American in the Girls Class AA final. Two teams that were no strangers to each other: Liz Gleaves and Destinee Harrison lost to Kelly and Liz Hardeman and Grace Fern in the Class AA Volleyball semifinals in November on Guam, then beat Faith 50-47 in February at Camp Zama in the Class AA Basketball title game -- the same score that Faith beat Seoul by the year before.
-- Given Seoul American's performance in shootouts three weeks earlier in the KAIAC Tournament, it was pretty clear that with Liz Gleaves in net, the Falcons had a realistic shot whenever they went to PKs. Well, it happened twice last week, including the final, in which Gleaves stopped three shots, just as she did against Seoul Foreign in the KAIAC final.
-- That final, by the way, went all Game 7 of the 1991 World Series on us -- the first to last all the way into PKs, 110 minutes, without a regulation goal being scored in the history of Far East soccer tournaments. Even in the shootout, only one player, the Falcons' Lee Ann Schade, was able to find the back of the net, on either team. Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, won by Minnesota 1-0 over Atlanta, was the first Game 7 to enter extra innings scoreless.
-- Can Liz Gleaves jump or what?
-- Seoul American became the lowest seed coming out of round-robin play to win a title in Far East soccer tournament history. That's the second-lowest in any Far East tournament in history; the lowest was No. 7 Christian Academy Japan, rising all the way to last November's Class AA Volleyball title. The only winless seed to do so was St. Mary's International boys basketball team, which went 0-4 and had to win a play-in game just to reach the final 16 of the 2001 Class AA Tournament, also on Guam.
-- Maybe Kadena's boys were the only ones who felt they could reach the Class AA Soccer Tournament final, but they did, much to the surprise of those who felt CAJ would end up playing Hong Kong International in the final.
-- And they stayed with Hong Kong step-for-step, until that ill-fated bad throw-in in the 75th minute. Hong Kong simply did what a good team is supposed to, take advantage of a Kadena team that didn't set up its defense immediately, then found Stephen Liu in the middle for the match-clincher.
-- No question, Hong Kong entered that tournament on a mission; they'd lost 1-0 to CAJ last May, when CAJ scored in the first minute, then fended off seven excellent chances, three of them point blank.
-- Third time since 2005 that Kadena, with four Class AA titles to its credit, has lost in the final match.
-- First time that CAJ's boys hadn't played for the title since 2004.
-- Faith vs. Seoul marked the first time that no Okinawa team played for the Girls Class AA Tournament title.
-- Stan Schrock, we'll miss you.
-- Eatery of the Week: Arredondo's Cafe, the creation of Ryukyu International Soccer Association president Ramon Arredondo, set up in the tent area at Mike Petty Stadium. Burgers, franks and hot sweet corn, enough food to feed 50 third-world nations. Ole!
-- Hospitality golf cart of the week: For those in dire need of a caffeine and sugar jolt, Fred Bales and his son Caleb rode around Petty and Upper, stopping along the way to provide needed relief from a Box O'Joe. Cures whatever ails ya. Call it the subtropical soccer version of the Saint Bernard with the bourbon barrel around his neck.
-- Confidential to the "streaker" who interrupted Friday's Girls Class AA Tournament final wearing nothing but a ski mask, softball sliding shorts and a Cheshire Cat grin: That is sooooooooooo 1970s. File that under the "you just never know what you're going to see at a Far East Tournament, but some things we'd rather not see" folder.
Published: May 23, 2010
One of the reasons SportsBlog Nation has been ... well, somewhat inactive the last week ... is because never before had DODEA Pacific staged six tournaments in three sports simultaneously over four days in one week:
-- Baseball hosted by Zama American.
-- Softball by Kadena.
-- Girls Class AA Soccer by Kubasaki.
-- Boys Class AA Soccer by Seoul American.
-- Girls Class A Soccer by Daegu American.
-- Boys Class A Soccer by Matthew C. Perry.
While I'm charged with the responsibility to cover all six, Ornauer had a ton of help last week from groups of student-reporters and photographers at each location. They provided the fuel that drove the coverage's engine. They were responsible, professional, met all their deadlines and even had several photographs published, two on our front pages Wednesday and Thursday.
For that, I owe them everything. To the following, reach over and pat yourselves on the back for a job very, very well done:
-- Team Warrior, reporter Erika Brun and photographers A.J. Griego, Ben Beaulieu, Erin Halseth, Tuanh Nguyen and Shane Yingling, under direction of Linda Scoppa and Giovanna Ross.
-- Team Falcon, Jessica Bruch, Christy Burrell and Leyna Ratcliff, under direction of David Clausen, with photography by my associate Gary Cashman.
-- Team Samur-Eye, team chief Angel Fraden, Jeff Cope, Jenn Cordero, Austin Cox, Jake McClenney, Cole Miller, Hayden Miller, Ashley Perez, Charlene Rothenberger, Ryan Schmidt, Martin Smallwood, Cheyenne Vallee, under direction of Mark Lange.
-- Team Troy, photographers Regina Thorp, Heather Coe, Anastasia Rodgers and Jessica DesJardins, and reporters Somers Overly, Janise Johnson, Tomoko Inoue, Nathanielle Sybico, Trisha Dring, Genevieve Burley, Kourtni Nelson and Michael Spencer, under direction of Richard L. Rodgers.
-- Team Dragon, team chief Elizabeth Rowe, Amir Ellis, Lia Chiarotti, Kevin Fugrad, Christal Summer VanEtten and Amanda Rodriguez, under direction of Phillip West.
-- Team Panther, team chief Jeff Mizell, Stephanie Mobley, Shane Kemeny, Anthony Schlosser, Avery Lennard, Jacob Bishop and Alex Zermeno, under direction of Heather Mendoza.
Guys ... I don't know how to begin to thank you.
Published: May 23, 2010
Rare do you see a defensive performance quite like the one staged by Foster on Saturday.
The defending U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League champion Bulldogs played like them, voraciously attacking Kadena's offense, forcing six turnovers, recording a sack, scoring a touchdown and leading Foster to a 20-0 shutout of the Dragons.
Leading the way: Tyron Francis (fumble-recovery touchdown, forced fumble) and W.L. McMullen (fumble recovery, forced fumble). QB Xian Goldbolt (6-for-14, three interceptions, 68 yards) and RB Emanuel Griffin (32 yards 12 carries) were the lone bright lights for a Kadena offense that was held to 80 yards, 3 on the ground.
That doesn't necessarily mean all is rosy in Bulldog land. Foster had two big plays to set up touchdowns called back on penalties; Foster was flagged 12 times for 125 yards, including four personal-foul penalties.
The Bulldogs gained just 157 yards -- to be fair in part because they had such good field position thanks to the takeaways -- but offensive coordinator Gerald Sharber was clearly unhappy after the game.
And Foster will have to do better when they travel to Yokota for a game Saturday against the North Division-leading Warriors.
Yokota has torched Yokosuka for 70 points in their two games. Sizewise, Foster is smaller, especially in the interior, than the Warriors, who have used their ground-pounding power game to burrow for nearly 600 yards in two games. Kevin Fortin by himself has 391 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries.
And you can't line up eight or nine in the box to stuff the run, else you'll leave Ryan Jones ample opportunity to toss the long ball to receivers such as Darius Merrit and Anthony Showers.
That said, Yokota has only played Yokosuka, which is rebuilding after years of playing on the plush with plenty of veterans. Still, Saturday's contest will likely serve as a good litmus test for each team.
Why does Foster invoke the phrase "June 19th" so often? That's the day of the Bulldogs' rematch with South Division-leading Joint Task Force, which beat Foster 13-6 on May 8.
My take: Let's see how they do with Yokota first. For I have a feeling that Yokota and Joint Task Force, who do not face each other during the regular season, just might be this season's championship game.
Published: May 22, 2010
1, Hong Kong International. Kai Hallberg, Stephen Liu completed the mission they'd waited a year to perform.
2, Matthew C. Perry, Japan (27-8-3). Samurai cap best season in school history with first Class A title in any sport since 1996; Andre Bugawan led the Pacific with 37 goals.
3, Kadena, Okinawa (13-10-1). Surprised quite a few (except themselves, perhaps) by reaching the Class AA title match.
4, Seoul Foreign (20-1-2). Doug Farley, good luck and God speed to you in all your endeavours. The program is a bit empty without you.
5, Faith Academy, Philippines (season complete, 13-3-1). Back on the pitch getting ready for its first go at a Far East tournament.
6, Yongsan International-Seoul (11-3-2). That Class A final between Guardians and Perry would have been great.
7, Kubasaki, Okinawa (8-15-2). Dragons began showing what they were made of midway through Far East, but two losses in last two matches hurt.
8, Christian Academy Japan (12-3-1) Lowest Class AA finish in school history; still, Knights will be fine in future years.
9, Seoul American (13-9-3). Despite uneven playoff mark, showed they were capable of staying with anybody.
10, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (15-8-1). So, what is Marcus Boehler's best sport -- wrestling or soccer?
1, Seoul American (16-4-6). Lowest-ever seed to make it all the way to the Class AA title; a hammer-lock sure thing when taken to PK shootouts, thanks to Liz Gleaves.
2, Faith Academy, Philippines (24-1-2). One would think Seoul American and Faith Academy had seen enough of each other in Far East finals ... one would think.
3, Osan American, South Korea (16-3-4). Once more, followed a pedestrian Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Division I Tournament finish with a Class A title.
4, Kubasaki, Okinawa (18-5-3). Quite the scorer in Elizabeth Fabila, who led the region with 41 goals.
5, Hong Kong International. That Kristen Siano takes a page out of Fabila's playbook; she never saw a shot she didn't take.
6, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (17-5-3). Meghan Pomeroy (30 goals) closed with a rush.
7, American School In Japan (15-4-1). Competitive every time they laced up, but not in the same class as 2008 champions.
8, Seoul Foreign (18-2-2). Sure would love to one day see how well they'd do in a Far East.
8, Taejon Christian International, South Korea (10-5-1). See Seoul Foreign.
10, Zama American (13-8-8). Without a doubt, the James Brown Award winner for the hardest working team in the Pacific; no fewer than THREE penalty-kick shootouts at Class AA.
Published: May 22, 2010
These shouldn't be easy to argue with, mostly based on Far East Tournament results:
1) Kubasaki, Okinawa. Imagine, getting a military police escort from the gate to the school and have the entire student body and faculty out to greet you and fete your first Far East title.
2) St. Mary's International, Japan. Next year, they'll get their chance at at Far East crown.
3) Kadena, Okinawa. They can win; just a matter now of believing they can beat Kubasaki when it counts.
4) Yokota, Japan. Didn't get a chance to play Zama American for third place at Far East, but held sway in the season series and finished first in DODEA Japan and Kanto regular season.
5) Zama American, Japan.
1) Kadena, Okinawa. Pitching depth, late Far East tournament batting burst too much for Far East field to handle.
2) Robert D. Edgren, Japan. Rode Kailee Redulla's rubber arm to the Far East final; simply didn't have enough gas left in tank to beat Kadena.
3) Kubasaki, Okinawa. Another team that learned it could win and played Kadena tough the last time they faced each other.
4) E.J. King, Japan. Not a bad perch for smallest DODEA Pacific high school in terms of enrollment.
5) Seoul American. Let's see how much better they'd do if they come to Kubasaki Spring Fling next April to get different competition than what they see in the regular season.
Published: May 16, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer regards the wonder that was the Kanto Invitational and could well be the Far East track and field meet:
-- I think it now can be told: Nile C. Kinnick is the boss of Far East high school track and field. The numbers from Saturday's Kanto Invitational tell it all: Combined, Kinnick's boys and girls scored 235 1/3 points to 160 3/4 for American School In Japan, considered the Red Devils' greatest challenge.
-- The biggest reason? How about the Kanto meet's only triple gold medalist, Valerie James. She had her hands full winning the 400 and the 200, taking each by a thread. But in the third leg of the 1,600-meter relay, she clearly showed why she won both of the events, running her 400 leg as if it were a 200 leg.
-- And she's just a FRESHMAN!
-- Scary good. Just scary good.
-- Might that have inspired teammate and discus thrower Adam Cason to breach the 40-meter mark for the first time this season?
-- That Kanto meet might have as well been billed "The Meet of the Dissatisfied."
-- Starting with Seoul American's 1,500 girls runner Siarria Ingram. She ran a 4:58.74, besting her Mike Petty Meet and Pacific record estimate by .16 seconds, but threw her shoes away in disgust after the race. "I wanted to run a 4:50," she told me about 15 minutes afterward after she'd calmed down.
-- Another who just missed history was Christian Academy Japan boys high jumper Shorai Ashida, who missed on three tries to reach 1.98 meters after matching the 17-year-old Kanto league record of 1.95.
-- Then, there was Chaun Lynn of Kinnick, who long-jumped 6.70 three times ... just .01 behind the Kanto record. Talk about frustrating.
Fun day. Sure wish it would last seven. :)
Published: May 16, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer is reminded of why he's such a white-knuckled flier:
-- Nice welcome for the eight visiting girls softball and 10 visiting girls soccer tournaments to Okinawa. From 5 a.m. Friday to 11 p.m. Sunday, more than 20 inches of rain have fallen, turning Kadena's softball FourDiamonds complex into mush and Kubasaki High School's soccer pitches into veritable Spongebobs.
-- No question, Okinawa is enduring its wettest tsuyu (rainy season) since 2007. Water reservoirs will undoubtedly be at capacity when the Okinawa Drought Countermeasures Council sends it daily report around noon Monday.
-- Bit of a harrowing experience for Nile C. Kinnick's, Zama American's and Yokota's softball and soccer teams on board Japan Air Lines Flight 905 out of Haneda for Okinawa. On a rather tricky approach due to gusty easterly crosswinds, witnesses said, the pilot overshot the runway on the first pass, wig-wagged his wings on the second, then pulled up and and diverted to Kagoshima, southeastern Kyushu. After a 1:15 layover, 905 took off and made it to Naha at 3:36 p.m., this time only needing one pass.
-- Already, the call has been made: No games before noon Monday in the first DODEA Pacific Far East Softball Tournament. They'll make the call at 9 a.m. whether Kubasaki's Mike Petty Stadium and Upper Field are playable for soccer. Not hopeful for the former. In theory, they can play soccer, but if they do, at what expense? Tearing up the fields for the rest of the week?
-- Given the bleak forecast for Thursday, the last day of the softball tournament, director Ken Hudson indicated that Tuesday and Wednesday will see the bulk of tournament play, perhaps a truncated pool-play round featuring 3-inning games, instead of 5-inning, with all elimination games being played on Wednesday.
-- Elsewhere, Tuesday and Wednesday look wet in the Far East Boys Class AA and Girls Class A Soccer Tournaments at Seoul and Daegu American, but their fields are turfed, so rain probably won't be an issue. Penny Lake Fields 1 and 2 at Iwakuni will likely resemble the mud pits of 2006 and 2008 Tuesday-Thursday; rain in the forecast there for fields that sit 10 feet below sea level. And the first Far East Baseball Tournament hosted by Zama American should do well until Thursday, when rain is in the forecast. That might end Wednesday as well.
-- As unpredictable as the tsuyu can be, somehow, I'm getting the feeling that Far East softball will spend exactly one year on Okinawa before moving to Kanto or Korea.
-- One game did get played on Sunday. Host Matthew C. Perry got goals from Andre Bugawan (30) and Sean Barker (13) in the second half en route to a 2-0 shutout of E.J. King.
Everybody do the anti-rain dance!
Published: May 13, 2010
Where Saturday's early U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League game is concerned, somebody from the North Division is gonna get well. Misawa (0-1) makes the 10-hour trip down the Tohoku Expressway to visit Yokosuka (0-2) in a battle of teams that combined to win the first nine league titles prior to Foster capturing the 2009 crown. Kickoff is 2 p.m. Saturday at field-turfed Berkey-By-The-Bay.
The nightcap, at Kadena Air Base, pits a pair of South Division unbeatens. Kadena, fresh off its 24-14 road win at Misawa last Saturday, takes on a Joint Task Force squad that handed Foster its first loss in USFJ-AFL play, 13-6 last Saturday. Kickoff is 6 p.m. at either McDonald Stadium or Ryukyu Middle School.
Published: May 12, 2010
Got word this morning via e-mail from her husband, Jim, that Sue Ferinden, who served with Navy MWR at Subic Bay Naval Station in the 1980s and Yokosuka Naval Base in the 1990s, passed away Saturday in Florida.
For those who knew Sue, they'll remember her as a community-, sports- and people-oriented MWR leader. Varsity sports at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan was at its last great height under her stewardship, along with her handpicked varsity sports director Geoff Denight. Yokosuka fielded not just one, but two varsity football teams and until 1998 staged one of the Pacific Grand Slam softball tournaments, the Yokosuka Open.
Yokosuka MWR on her watch began a partnership with Nile C. Kinnick High School, which regularly hosted Far East tournaments in girls volleyball and basketball during the decade. It was in the 1990s that Jim Ferinden coached his only two Far East champion teams, 1995 and '96 in girls basketball.
Sue, we'll miss you.
Published: May 9, 2010
UPDATED at 11:10 a.m. Monday with last DODEA girls team to win Kanto final title.
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer readies for the Far East championship weeks' tablesetter, the Kanto Invitational track on Saturday:
-- So, just what did Saturday's Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools league track and field championship meet at Yokota High School prove? That American School In Japan has the best boys team and Nile C. Kinnick the best girls team -- not which school has the best combined team, because that's not possible to measure (touche, SportsView). And it also proved that Saturday's Kanto Invitational at Tokyo's Oi Pier Ground is going to be beast.
-- The last DODEA Japan team to win a team title in the Kanto championship meet? Yokota in 1991. So long, 19-year drought. Congratulations on a Red Devil of a season.
-- No individual league records were broken last Saturday; that's probably an output of AutoTrak timing, instead of regular ol' hand-timing which can be a half-second behind. And also probably because athletes may have been holding a little something back for the Kanto Invitational.
-- What wonders will we see at Kanto Invitational? Start with the relays, particularly the boys 400. Then come the boys 100 and 200, with Kinnick's Chaun Lynn, Kubasaki's A.J. Watson, Kadena's Perry Scott and Thomas McDonald and ASIJ's Ryan Christianson challenging, among others; these will be EPIC. Cory Serfoss and Sung Hyun Kim of Christian Academy Japan might duel it out in the 400 hurdles. The girls 100 pitting Kelsey Scott of Yokota and Seoul American's Kristy Taylor will be something to watch. Also bearing close watch will be the girls 800, 1,500 and 3,000, when Janelle Jorgensen, Siarria Ingram and Amanda Henderson of Seoul hit the track record-hungry.
-- Glad the rain held off on Okinawa to permit ball to be played Saturday; there might not be another window for some time to come. And the results weren't surprising -- Kaleb Robinson went on a tear (5-for-5, 3 home runs, 10 RBIs) as Kubasaki repeated its island baseball championship 13-1 and 13-1 over Kadena. The opposite happened on the girls softball side -- again -- with Kadena capturing its eighth island title with 11-3 and 13-3 victories over Kubasaki, behind the pitching and hitting of Desirae Seals and Mary Schweers.
-- Batting line for the weekend: Tanisha Hodges, 2B-3B, Kadena. 4-for-5, 4 bunt singles, 3 walks, 6 stolen bases. I think Panthers coach Jesse Costa has found her leadoff hitter. Only way to play her: 1B and 3B play in at the corners; 2B covers first base on a bunt. What a dangerous weapon.
-- Combined family batting line for the weekend: Kaleb and Mikayla Robinson, 8-for-11, 3B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, SB.
-- Confidential to coach Danel MacWhyte of Nile C. Kinnick's girls softball team: You're getting a good first baseman in Mikayla Robinson, who transfers to Yokosuka over the summer.
-- The 2-0 sweeps very likely will make the Panthers girls and Dragons boys the favorites going into the Far East baseball tournament at Zama American and softball tournament at Kadena, May 17-20.
Green flag flies in a week!
Published: May 9, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer gazes over the revamped U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League landscape and thinks, That's why they play the games on the field:
-- Whoo-wee, do we ever have a new rivalry! I called it, yes, but I didn't think we would see that intense a battle between Joint Task Force and defending league champion Foster. Lotta pushing and shoving during the game, so much so early on that Foster coach Auburne Edwards walked on the field, asked for an official stoppage during which referee Earl Gittens counseled both head coaches and team captains.
-- The uneasy truce ended just after the JTF Wolfpack, made up much of players from last year's South Division basement-dwelling Torii Wolfpack, handed the Bulldogs their first league loss since the team formed last season. Final score 13-6. Penalty score 25 flags for 199 yards. One player ejected. And just after the game, something triggered a near brawl; referees and coaches restrained the near-warring parties.
-- Upon hearing the news of the game, one other USFJ-AFL coach said, "That's not good for the league." On the surface, I can see his point. I'm sure new commissioner Sean Dath would disagree with me ... but in sort of a backhanded way, that game helped a league starving for attention get some. But not in a good way.
-- I will predict right here and now: One of those two teams WILL host the USFJ-AFL championship game. Their defenses are strong, strong, strong. No turnovers forced, but the two teams' offenses combined for less than three trips down the field.
-- I don't think it's coincidence that the return of Emanuel Griffin to the Kadena Dragons' lineup -- he played running back in the Dragons' two championship seasons in the old Okinawa Football League, 2004 and 2005 -- marked a sharp increase in point output for Kadena. The team averaged 15.5 points per game last season -- it scored nine more than that in a 24-14 win at Misawa on Sunday.
-- Not bad for a team that traveled with just 18 players, and went in groups via Space-A from Kadena to Yokota, then by bus about 12 hours up the Tohoku Expressway to Misawa. About 1,300 miles. Winning sure made that trip worth while.
-- Who brings the heat in the Kanto? Apparently, the Yokota Warriors plan to live up to their pre-game exhortation; they buried former seven-time USFJ-AFL champion Yokosuka in an avalanche of points, scoring on all sides of the ball in a 40-6 romp at Yokota's Bonk Field. Yokota scored via the run, the pass, defense, special teams; clicked on all cylinders, they did.
-- And what of the Seahawks? Coupled with their 34-6 defeat a week earlier against Foster, that makes Yokosuka 0-2 and the 'Hawks have been outscored 74-12. Their worst start since their winless 1986 campaign. "It falls back on me as the coach," James Price said, adding, however, that he doesn't have the answers yet but he'll find them.
Published: May 7, 2010
Visited with DODEA Pacific's Far East Athletics Coordinator Don Hobbs and Activities Coordinator Todd Kirby the other day at Torii Station. Some things you might want/like to know about Far East activities, this year and in the future, culled from that meeting plus information from spring Far East tournament organizers:
Far East Boys Class AA Soccer Tournament May 17-21 at Seoul American features 10 teams, two pools of five each for round-robin play, then a single-elimination tournament with consolation.
Far East Girls Class AA Soccer Tournament May 17-21 at Kubasaki, same thing except 12 total teams, two pools of six each.
Far East Boys Class A Soccer Tournament May 17-20 at Matthew C. Perry, seven teams, one pool for round-robin play, single-elimination tournament with consolation.
Far East Girls Class A Soccer Tournament May 17-20 at Daegu American, five teams (a record low), one pool for round-robin play, double-elimination tournament.
Far East Baseball Tournament May 17-20 at Zama American, nine teams, three pools of three each for round-robin play, single-elimination tournament with consolation.
Far East Softball Tournament May 17-20 at Kadena, 10 teams, two pools of five each for round-robin play, single-elimination tournament with consolation.
The list of athletes who have qualified for the Far East track and field meet May 24-25 at Kubasaki is complete; now, it's a matter of breaking down athletes into which four events they'll run if they've qualified for more than four, Hobbs said.
Baseball tournament's pitching limits have been relaxed some, Hobbs said. Pitchers are limited to 17 innings in the four-day tournament instead of 14. And if you pitch five innings in one game, you can pitch two more in the next game, giving you seven for the day. If you throw six innings Monday, you can come back and throw one on Tuesday, then, just as an example, three on Wednesday, then go a full seven again on Thursday. If a team has a "closer" whose sole job is to pitch one inning and save games, they aren't forced to shut down for 24 hours and wait from, say, Monday to Wednesday.
No pitching limits for girls softball. Hobbs indicated that he did an extensive search of National Federation of State High School Associations rules and could find nothing that showed pitch counts for girls.
Classification of large and small schools per enrollment will change starting next school year. Class AA will be called Division I and Class A Division II, the way they do it in Europe. The enrollment cap of 300 for Division II won't be revisited immediately, but it's "almost imminent in the future, we'll have to keep our eyes open and be ready to reevaluate," Hobbs said.
In my visits last week to Korea and Iwakuni, all the coaches I spoke with -- and many soccer players -- were unanimous in their desire to see the Divisions I and II boys and girls soccer tournaments together on Okinawa. That's being looked at, Hobbs said, cautioning that they must take "baby steps" toward that objective. "It might be too much to undertake. We've never had two large tournaments in the same location, much less four all together." Hobbs said they'd have to "cross their fingers" and hope enough billeting is available both on base and at an off-base facility such as the Grand Mer resort.
Of Division I's football playoff adding two "play-in games" pitting Seoul American and Guam High, which had been getting a free pass into the playoffs, against the No. 2 teams in Japan and Okinawa districts, "we're 90-percent there," Hobbs said. Such a game would take place in early- to mid-October on a rotating basis, Seoul American vs. Nile C. Kinnick or Yokota and Guam High vs. Kubasaki or Kadena one year, and switching off in future years. The idea being that in some years, the No. 2 in Japan and/or Okinawa might in fact be better than Seoul American or Guam High.
There's no word yet on whether other in-season games involving interarea travel has been approved. A tentative schedule of such games has been drawn up and they're doing cost analysis to see if it can be included in the budget.
And while it hasn't been officially signed off yet, the discussion I had with Hobbs and Kirby clearly indicated that international schools will be welcomed back to Far East tennis, cross country and wrestling. The caveat: Each of those events will be capped at 16 total teams, 16 boys and 16 girls teams each in cross country and tennis. That would leave only four at-large berths for international schools in those events, and the question then would be would the international schools, which have already established Asia-Pacific Invitationals in each sports, would desire to return to the DODEA Pacific tournament. I think it's pretty clear they would break in the bulkheads to return to the wrestling mat; there would be five at-large international school berths there.
All for now. More as I unearth it.
Published: May 7, 2010
UPDATED at 8:30 p.m. Friday with enjoyable travel moment of the week.
After two years of relatively late rainy seasons, Japanese meteorological and oceanographic officials declared Thursday the start of the annual tsuyu, or rainy season for Okinawa.
We didn't wait long for it to start.
Rain continues to pour down, in "The Day After Tomorrow" fashion, even as I type this. The grim result: Game 1 of the Okinawa Activities Council district best-of-three championship series in baseball and girls softball were washed out, along the Kadena-Kubasaki boys and girls soccer matches at Kadena Air Base's Ryukyu Middle School.
Re soccer: RMS' field is taking a pounding and it doesn't drain well. Why not move the matches to Mike Petty Stadium at Kubasaki? Petty and Kubasaki's Upper Field are off limits until the Far East Class AA Tournaments begin 10 days from now.
The Kadena-Kubasaki soccer matches have been rescheduled for Wednesday. The rest of the weekend's slate, which includes matches at all locales on Saturday and Sunday, will be evaluated and decisions made each morning.
Games 1 and 2 of the OAC baseball and softball series have been rescheduled for noon and 3 p.m. Saturday, baseball at Foster Field 9 and softball at RMS (provided the weather allows it; more rain is in the forecast). Game 3, if necessary, will be played Wednesday.
Saturday's track and field "tune-up" meet for next week's Kanto Invitational has been scotched.
Aggravating travel moment of the week: Coming out of Plaza Housing on Raikamu Hill near Route 330, a sign just before the traffic signal clearly states: "No Left Turn On Red." So, what does the driver of the car next to me do? Yep, pulls right up to the light (red), waits for traffic to clear and turns left.
Enjoyable travel moment of the week: Well, actually last week, but what the hey ... If you're at Iwakuni and in need of a very, very tasty meal to start the day, head to Club Iwakuni and order the Quick Starter. Thursday, April 29, 8 a.m. Three scrambled, thick-cut bacon, grilled ham, hash browns and Texas toast. Best eggs I've ever had a any service club, Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps. And I've been out here almost 30 years.
Published: May 5, 2010
Last time before they lace 'em up for Far East:
1, Christian Academy Japan (6-0) Ryo Fuseya and Jesse Hino have shown there is life in Knights country post-Leo Kobayashi. And plenty of it.
2, Matthew C. Perry, Japan (21-6-2). Best record in school history, first time the Samurai have beaten all their Class AA opponents in the same season.
3, Kadena, Okinawa (7-6-1). Dalton ChoQuette, Marty Maschio stepping up as scoring threats to complement Stan Schrock.
4, Seoul Foreign (20-1-2). Still a rock-solid side, but that KAIAC tournament semifinal loss to Seoul International really hurt.
5, Yongsan International-Seoul (11-3-2). Finished season on a 6-0-1 tear; sure wish they could come back to Far East Class A to try for a title hat trick.
6, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (12-8-1). Despite uneven return from spring break, still should make plenty of noise at Far East Class AA.
7, Seoul American (10-5-2). See Kinnick.
8, Faith Academy, Philippines (season complete, 13-3-1). Back on the pitch getting ready for its first go at a Far East tournament.
9, Kubasaki, Okinawa (3-11-1). Dragons always get the benefit of the doubt for playing adult teams, but they need to start showing some fire.
10, Robert D. Edgren, Japan (9-5-1). Too much down time without matches before Far East Class A might hurt.
1, American School In Japan (7-0). Long layoff had no effect; Mustangs still rules the regular-season roost.
2, Faith Academy, Philippines (15-0-2). Might we see a Far East Class AA first final between two non-DODEA teams?
3, Kadena, Okinawa (6-3-1). Better watch out for Chasity Cordova; she's starting to find the net.
4, Kubasaki, Okinawa (10-2-1). Acquitting themselves nicely despite so many transfers from the defense.
5, Seoul American (12-3-3). Falcons vault all the way to the middle of the pack after MVP and Best Goalkeeper Liz Gleaves' heroic shootout performances in the KAIAC tournament semis and final.
6, Nile C. Kinnnick, Japan (10-2-2). Don't look now, but the Devils are Red hot; four wins since the break.
7, Seoul Foreign (18-2-2). Powerful finish comes to a sad end in that KAIAC finals loss to Seoul American.
8, Taejon Christian International, South Korea (10-5-1). Finishes third in the KAIAC tournament; scoring star Nina Aaltonen exits with the tournament's Golden Boot award despite playing on two badly sprained ankles.
9, Osan American, South Korea (11-3-3). Despite its mini-slump since the break, Cougars have still allowed just six regulation goals (all to Taejon Christian International).
10, Zama American (9-6-4). Rachel Walls and Taylor Cave continue finding the net; still plenty of life in this program; consistency may be the key.
Did I leave out anybody? Somebody should be higher or lower than I have 'em? Shout it out! Be true to your school, and remember ... you've entered THE "No-Hate Zone." :)
Published: May 5, 2010
Just three big meets left, the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools league meet on Saturday at Yokota, then the big Kanto Invitational on May 15 in Tokyo and Far East May 24-25 on Okinawa.
1, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan. Proved its competitive worth, with the girls completing the school's first unbeaten regular season; guys are in the running, too.
2, American School In Japan. Mustangs don't slip far after the girls fell convincingly to Kinnick in the final regular-season meet. Still a very, very competitive lot.
3, Kadena, Okinawa. Right there waiting in the wings if either Kinnick or ASIJ slips in the Kanto Invitational; one of four teams favored at Far East.
4, Kubasaki, Okinawa. See Kadena.
5, Seoul American. See Kadena and Kubasaki.
6, Christian Academy Japan. Not quite in the same class as the top five, but still have plenty of strong athletes who can steal plenty of golds.
7, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan. Sure would love to see them at Kanto AND Far East.
8, Faith Academy, Philippines. See Morrison.
9, Zion Christian Academy, Okinawa. Perhaps Keefe Wilson's best girls unit yet.
10 (entry), St. Mary's International/Seisen International/International School of the Sacred Heart, Japan. Another dark horse entry, could take away enough golds to make the Kanto Invitational team title chase a strong one.
Am I spot on? Way off base? Somewhere inbetween? Shout it out! Be true to your school, and remember, you've entered "THE" No-Hate Zone. :)
Published: May 5, 2010
One last time, with feeling, heading into the first Far East tournaments:
1, Kubasaki, Okinawa. Still rules the island; rain in forecast for this weekend's Okinawa Activities Council best-of-three series.
2, American School In Japan. Still aiming for consistency heading into next weekend's Kanto Plain Invitational.
(tie), St. Mary's International, Japan. Split their last series with ASIJ; might have enough in a young team to make a run at Kanto.
4, Seoul American. Wrapped up a second straight DODEA Korea; one more weekend of games to tune up for Far East.
5 (tie), Nile C. Kinnick and Yokota, Japan. Still dead even in terms of their whole bodies of work.
1, Kadena, Okinawa. Might have precious little work heading into Far East, what with the weather forecast calling for wet stuff for thsi weekend's OAC best-of-three.
2, Seoul American. Two straight DODEA Korea titles matches their baseball counterparts.
3, Kubasaki, Okinawa. Only lost by four runs last time the Dragons played Kadena.
4, Robert D. Edgren, Japan. Leapfrogs over Kinnick with its surprising DODEA Japan tournament performance.
5, Nile C. Kinnick, Japan. Not quite the Red Devil of a team they were the past two seasons, but still in the thick of it.
Did I hit the bull's-eye? Or is all this full of hooey? Shout it out! Be true to your school, and remember, you've entered "THE" No-Hate Zone. :)
Published: May 5, 2010
Something new to this year's All-Armed Forces volleyball tournaments for men and women at Camp Lejeune, N.C. -- picking up on the sports popularity, they've added two-player beach volleyball to the competition. So far, Navy's # 1 teams lead the way after one day of play, each 3-0. Click here to follow the All-Armed Forces sports program.
Published: May 5, 2010
A full slate of U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League games on Saturday gives us a North Division game between two teams that have shared a decades-long rivalry ... and a South Division game that could just blossom into the league's next big rivalry.
Lorenz Piper and the Yokosuka Seahawks take their traditional North Division smashmouth game to Yokota, where they face the defending league runner-up Warriors' spread attack.
Meanwhile, the defending champion Foster Bulldogs and their newly unveiled receiver corps battle Joint Task Force Wolfpack, the latter's first regular-season game as a combined team out of the remnants of last season's Torii Wolfpack and the old Courtney-Hansen Titans of the old Okinawa Football League. Both rosters are huge, the players are huge. And they just might hear the popping of pads as far north as Fukuoka.
Yokota-Yokosuka kicks off at 6 p.m. at Yokota High School's Bonk Field, while the Bulldogs and Wolfpack tee it up at 6:30 p.m.
Still waiting for the final "go" word on when and what day the Kadena Dragons and Misawa Jets will strap up the helmets. Still crossing the i's and dotting the t's on billeting and transportation arrangements. Will let you know as soon as it's firmed up.
"Give me two beats, two claps and an OOOOOO, AHHHHH!"
"Who brings the heat in the Kan-to? You know!"
Published: May 5, 2010
So, what's a soccer team to do when it loses two players responsible for 57 goals and 17 assists? Simple: Go on the defensive. That's what Osan American's girls soccer team did in the 2010 regular season and the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Division I tournament -- the defending Far East Class A Tournament champions have gone 11-3-3 so far and while scoring just 41 goals, they've allowed just five regulation goals (all three losses and all five goals to Taejon Christian International). Click here to read their story.
Published: May 5, 2010
They used to be the "practice cones for everybody else to run around," coach Mark Lange said. Matthew C. Perry's boys were the proverbial 98-pound weakling with the "Kick me" sign pasted on their backs. No longer. Thanks to 14 returning veterans and the scoring of Andre Bugawan (27 goals) and Carolina transfer Tyelor Apple (20), the Samurai had markedly turned things around at 21-6-2 and chasing a Far East Class A Tournament title on their home pitch. Click here to read their story.
Published: May 4, 2010
UPDATED at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer still tries to catch his breath from that breakneck journey to Korea and Japan and hurriedly prepares for SEVEN Far East tournaments later this month, a record for one season:
-- Yep, that's right. This will be the busiest month where DODEA Pacific Far East Tournaments are concerned. Boys and girls Class AA and Class A soccer, baseball, softball and track and field. That tops by one the month of November, which features tennis, cross country and Class AA and Class A football and volleyball.
-- The assault on the track and field championship meet record book began in earnest last Saturday, when six Okinawa Activities Council district meet records tumbled. A.J. Watson of Kubasaki topped the 200 mark, Tomas Sanchez of Kadena ran the island's first sub-2:00 in the 800 and each of the boys' and girls' 400- and 1,600-meter relay records were rewritten. And Kubasaki's boys 400 relay team beat Kadena for the first time this season.
-- Next up is the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools meet on Saturday at Yokota High School's Bonk Field. Expect more of the same, with Nile C. Kinnick's Cory Serfoss taking aim at the hurdles records, Shannon Jackson the shot put and discus and Christian Academy Japan's Shorai Ashida trying to become the first Pacific high jumper to exceed 2 meters.
-- Just when you think the high-flying Seoul American junior three-sport star Liz Gleaves has done it all, she amazes yet again. She stopped three shots each in successive penalty-kick shootouts in Thursday's semifinal and Friday's championship as the No. 3-seeded Falcons upset No. 2 Osan American and No. 1 Seoul Foreign to win the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Girls Division I Soccer Tournament title.
-- And these weren't ordinary stops. These were leap-as-far-as-you-can-and-somehow-get-a-finger-on-the-ball kinds of saves. Ones that had the shooters going ... well ... you can pretty much figure out what they said. Ones that definitely swayed the KAIAC coaches in naming Gleaves the tournament's MVP as well as Outstanding Goalkeeper.
-- What a shocker Seoul International's boys pulled in their semifinal upset of No. 1 Seoul Foreign, by far and away everyone's favorite to win the tournament.
-- Which threw open the door for coach John Peters and two-time defending Far East Class A Tournament champion Yongsan International-Seoul. Not going back to try to make it a hat trick, Peters said in an e-mail not too long ago that they'd set KAIAC as their goal. That 7-0 spanking of SIS was emphatic.
-- You'd never know it watching her play on the field, but Taejon Christian International's girls career goal-scoring leader, Nina Aaltonen, who won the KAIAC tournament's Golden Boot award, got most of her 25 goals this season while playing on two very badly sprained ankles. You only noticed her favoring the legs as she left the field after each match.
-- Confidential to Nina: It was an honor watching you play, even if just once.
-- Might it be possible that Nile C. Kinnick found the key to at least slowing down defending Boys Class AA Tournament champion Christian Academy Japan? The Knights got in front 2-1 in the first half ... and that's the way the match ended. Credit a "configuration change," Kinnick coach Robert Tiffany said in an e-mail. What that "configuration change" was, I do not know, but I'm sure that Tiffany will be flooded with e-mails asking what the Devils did and how they did it.
-- From the "You can't make up this kind of stuff" file. Yokota's boys soccer team isn't enjoying what would be termed a Suite life (6-12-1 record so far), but they have two players whose names are remindful of the cheesy TV comedy. Try Zach and Cody Trask. No fooling. (No word as to whether the manager's name is Tipton).
-- If Frank Bryant and his corps of receivers served up any indication Saturday at Ryukyu Middle School, the defending U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League champion Foster Bulldogs are still the league's "it" team. Roger Veal caught two touchdown passes and Quentin White another as the Bulldogs pounded visiting Yokosuka 34-6; the Seahawks have seven USFJ-AFL titles to their credit.
-- Just how good is Foster's band of pass catchers? Last season's touchdown-catch leader, Corey Moore, was moved to slot receiver. He did catch a touchdown pass, but though Veal appears to be Bryant's prime target, Moore told me in an e-mail that he's not ready to pass the torch yet. :)
-- Let's see ... OKA to ICN to OSN to GMP to TGU to GMP to HND to HIJ to IWA to HIJ to HND to OKA in just over 120 hours. How playah is dat, huh? Now, figure out what airports those three-letter codes belong to. :)
-- Along the way on that breakneck journey ... got a stern reminder of just how much we've forgotten since 9/11. I mean, stainless steel silverware on a jetliner? That's just asking for trouble.
-- Probably more aggravating than that ... why do people feel the need to use their cell phones or iPhones while a jetliner is in flight. Read the type: Devices that emit radio waves interfere with aircraft navigational systems. Until airliners overseas add WiFi Internet capability, keep your electronic devices off, please? I want to arrive safely at the next destination. I'm sure the rest of the flight would agree.
-- Minor aggravation ... why is it that IC card systems in east Japan and west Japan don't react well to each other? Had my PASMO card all charged up with yen and ready to use for the 45-minute train trip from Hiroshima to Iwakuni ... got a bright red light and a loud buzzer, with the station guy telling me the card is no good. Fine. Bought me an ICOCA card that works on the Sanyo Line but won't work in Tokyo.
-- Green Rich Hotel, downtown Iwakuni near the train station. Good call. Especially the high-speed in-room LAN.
-- Tried something different while at Yongsan Garrison and needing to go to Osan American High School to talk to the girls soccer team. Rather than take the bus and trudge through the rain to and from bus stops, I rented a vehicle from the Discover Seoul counter at the Dragon Hill Lodge. $50 plus $15 for insurance for one day. Good to have your own transportation, but ungood to not have access to the bus lane that cuts the 2-hour trip in half. I'll probably take the bus again in the future.
-- Next stop, the Kanto Invitational track meet on May 15. Then, Far East.