Found this late last night while browing through YouTube. I've seen the movie; but to see the real Daniel Ruettiger tell his own story ... well, pardon me while I grab the nearest box of Kleenex. This should be MANDATORY viewing for anybody who harbours the slightest of dreams, not just football but any walk of life.
The Top Ten teams in the Stars and Stripes' 2010 Far East high school football ratings, with records through Aug. 28, points and last season’s rating, as compiled by Dave Ornauer of Stars and Stripes sports. Ratings are based on teams' win-loss records, quality of wins, strength of roster, schedule and leagues, point differential and team and individual statistics. Maximum rating is 500 points:
Record Pts Pvs
1. Kadena, Okinawa 0-0 440 1
2. Yokota, Japan 1-0 432 7
3. George Washington, Guam 2-0 428 2
4. American School In Japan 0-0 424 3
5. Daegu American, South Korea 1-0 416 6
6. John F. Kennedy, Guam 2-0 408 9
7. Zama American, Japan 1-0 400 4
8. Guam High 1-0 392 8
9. Father Duenas Memorial, Guam 1-0 384 5
10. Osan American 0-0 376 --
Week 2 grid honors
John F. Kennedy – Thomas Gutierrez 89 yards, 2 touchdowns, 15 carries. R.J. Rolinski 9 tackles, 4 for losses, 4 quarterback hurries, 1 forced fumble.
Simon Sanchez – A.J. Quitugua 10 tackles.
Zama American – Michael Spencer 88 yards, 1 touchdown, 14 carries; 14 tackles, 4 for losses. Andre Encarnacion 2 sacks, fumble-return touchdown. Stephen Ferrer 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception.
Nile C. Kinnick – Richard Villareal 102 yards, 1 touchdown, 21 carries.
Yokota – Devin Day 190 yards, 4 touchdowns, 16 carries. Morgan Breazille 112 yards, 2 touchdowns, 4 carries; 90-yard kick-return touchdown.
Daegu American – Tre Griffin 5-for-12, 96 yards; 7-yard touchdown run. Jacobi Myles 75 yards, 8 carries. Jarel Connie 5-yard touchdown run; 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 3 tackles for losses. Ayrton Hilton 44 yards, 3 catches; 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 4 tackles for losses.
Week 3 outlook
American School In Japan at Yokota, 7:30 p.m. – Host Panthers already have two games under their belt, including last Friday’s strong statement at Misawa; Mustangs are starting as early as they ever have. ASIJ beat Yokota twice last season … Upset special: Panthers 18, Mustangs 15.
Zama American at Robert D. Edgren, 7 p.m. – They’re not the powerhouse they were last season, but visiting Trojans acquitted themselves nicely in their opener against Nile C. Kinnick. Eagles had much trouble stopping Yokota on the outside last week. … Trojans 17, Eagles 14.
Simon Sanchez at Okkodo, 7 p.m. – Two teams desperately trying to get well. … Sharks 11, Bulldogs 10.
George Washington at Guam High, 3 p.m. – Hard to tell what the Geckos bring to the table just now; they have two wins, but each by forfeit, while the Panthers looked fluid against Okkodo. … Geckos 20, Panthers 16.
Father Duenas Memorial vs. John F. Kennedy at Okkodo High School, Dededo, 7 p.m. – Again, a Friars team that scored its lone win by forfeit against a veteran Islanders team with one win by forfeit and a cruising past startup Okkodo. … Islanders 16, Bulldogs 10.
Seoul American vs. Kadena at Ryukyu Middle School, Kadena Air Base, 7 p.m. – Rematch of the last two Far East Division I title games should go in favor of the hosts, perhaps not as big as the 44-point win last November, but still just as convincingly. … Panthers 21, Falcons 10.
Imagine you coached football at Robert D. Edgren High School, as defensive coordinator for four seasons and one as head coach ... then nearly 10 years later, come back to face them as a coordinator for Yokota.
That was David Carrano, Edgren's head coach in 2001, last Friday when he, as the Panthers' defensive coordinator, visited his former haunt, where Yokota pounded Edgren 49-8 in the DODDS Japan season-opening game.
"I have people ragging on me on Facebook for being a traitor," Carrano said, half-jokingly, on Monday, three days after traveling to his old haunt.
"I had never stood on that sideline before" Friday, Carrano said. "It felt strange, different."
Occasionally in my football travels, I've come across father and sons who've held the chains and the down box on the sideline. But not until Friday's Nile C. Kinnick at Zama American DODDS Japan and Kanto Plain season opener had I seen a father and his two daughters do the same thing.
That was Dennis Staley, a retired Army major working at U.S. Army Japan headquarters, and his girls, senior Reina, a tennis and softball player and wrestler for Zama American, and sixth-grader Sheina. Father held the down box, daughters held the chain posts.
Nice to see how well Junior ROTC and band from different schools could work together during a high school football game's opening ceremony.
That was Zama American's Army JROTC colour guard and Kinnick's marching band, one of only two in the Pacific, under the direction of Jonathan Parker. The band began playing Kimi Ga Yo a second or two early, before the guard presented arms, but you can chalk that up to first-game jitters and the two units having not worked together prior. It's something I'd love to see at games in the future, everywhere.
The Pacific's other marching band? Kadena High School, Okinawa.
Enjoyable travel moments:
-- What is now becoming Korea's country-wide metro/subway system just may be the most convenient and economical ride anywhere in the Pacific. Try my trip last Wednesday from Osan Air Base to Kimpo Airport for a redeye flight to Tokyo.
Line 1, which runs as far north as Tongduchon and as far south as Asan 200 miles away, has a stop at Song-t'an station a mile or so from Osan's front gate. Trains come every 15 to 20 minutes.
Go 24 stops north to Singil station just south of the Han River, transfer to Line 5 (about a 500-meter walk, or so how my ankles felt), then go 13 stops to Kimpo Airport.
Takes about an hour and 40 minutes total. Cost? 1,900 won, or about $1.65. Covers about 60 miles.
Go left as you exit toward the international terminal and right if you're taking one of a small handful of domestic flights left in Korea (ones which haven't been killed off by the KTX, such as Cheju Island).
Speaking of the KTX, that, too, remains the most economical and convenient way to get from Seoul to Taegu and back. Takes about 1 hour, 40 minutes, depending on whether your train stops at Kwangmyung, Chon'an-Asan, Kimchon and Kumi en route to Taegu and/or back.
Coach cars are a bit cozy and half the seats face the rear, which is why Ornauer always chooses first-class seating (difference is less than $10), 53,800 won each way, round-trip a total of just over $93.
From Tong Taegu Station, it's a 6,000- to 7,000-won cab ride to Camps Henry, Walker or George.
Back to Kimpo Airport for a moment ... best meal I had all week was the buffet on the very top floor of the international terminal. Go up the escalator and go left. 20,000 won ($16.78), all you can eat. I surely wasn't dressed for it -- definitely felt out of place in my football formal what with all the folks in suits and ties around me -- but definitely worth every won.
I know using stainless steel silverware on international flights lends an air of style and elegance to whichever airline uses them. But heavens, haven't we learned a thing from Sept. 11 about how such things can become dangerous weapons in the wrong people's hands? ... or have we already forgotten?
Second-best meal(s) I had during the entire football fall tour: The garlic-butter linguine at the Yokota Enlisted Club, which came in a step or two behind the aglio olio I devoured at the Un Quinto just outside the Fussa gate.
Open plea to the folks at 374th Force Support Squadron: Bring back the Outback and restore what is now "Historic Route 16 Japan" to its original condition before it was decided to take something that had been working for decades and fixing it anyway. Sometimes, a services chief can make the biggest mark on his base and make his legacy by leaving things be. If this angers the sensibilities of some in services, I apologise, but I'm 100-percent certain I speak for more than myself.
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer peeks over the horizon at what might be the first typhoon to hit Okinawa in three years (check out Pacific Storm Tracker while you're here, y'all :) ).
-- Taking care of the football -- or rather not being very good at it -- appears to be a big issue for coaches to work on in practice this week.
-- In Seoul American's 12-0 home season-opening loss to defending DODDS Korea champion Daegu American, the Falcons lost the handle on the ball several times, one of which led to a Warriors score (to be fair, the conditions Saturday were wet and slippery, as has been the case all week in the Seoul area).
-- And in the first half of John F. Kennedy's 20-7 comeback win at Okkodo, each team lost the pumpkin twice in the game's first six minutes. The startup Bulldogs surprisingly led the established Islanders 7-0 at halftime.
-- But such things are part of the vagaries of building a winning football team. Every last team out there will improve in that aspect, or they won't win.
-- It's only a week, but Daegu apparently still rules the Korea roost, and defense rose up as the Warriors' backbone in Saturday's contest at SAHS' Sims Field. Jarel Connie and Ayrton Hilton each recorded two sacks and a fumble recovery and combined for seven tackles for losses.
-- On the offensive side of the ball, Connie, whose teammates call him "Tank," ran 5 yards for a touchdown and Tre Griffin, who finished 5-for-12 for 96 yards passing, ran 7 yards for a score. Hilton also caught three passes for 44 yards.
-- Still, the Warriors could use some work up front, coach Ken Walter says, trying to get to gel a line that lost three of five starters from last year.
-- Falcons coach Billy Ratcliff's line-building task appears to be much larger. "Our line was overwhelmed by their line," he said. "We didn't do anything to help ourselves, and we left the defense on the field too long. Daegu is a well-coached team."
-- At Okkodo High School in Dededo, once the teams quit playing giveaway, R.J. Rolinski was to the Islanders what Connie and Hilton were for the Warriors, a defensive force. Try nine tackles, four for losses, four quarterback hurries, including one that resulted in a fumble.
-- That helped get things revved up for JFK, which got strong running-back performances from Thomas Gutierrez; he scored twice and finished with 89 yards on 15 carries, while teammate Jade Blas added a score and 52 yards on 12 attempts.
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer gazes at the calendar, two days before school opens, and wonders where summer went so quickly ...
-- At least for now, Zama American still rules the DODDS Japan football roost, but the impetus for the Trojans' 32-8 season-opening victory Friday over Nile C. Kinnick came from an unlikely source. Sophomore Andre Encarnacion's two sacks and fumble-return touchdown helped Zama pull away from the Red Devils in the second half.
-- Until then, the Red Devils kept themselves within shouting distance, a pretty good job despite missing five starters.
-- Kinnick's defense keyed on Zama's yards guy Michael Spencer all game, yet Spencer -- a few months separated from knee surgery -- managed 88 yards on 14 touchdowns, including a 21-yard TD on his final carry, plus 14 tackles, several of them open-field, solo, drive-stuffing efforts.
-- I think people have caught on to the fact that Zama coach Steven Merrell likes to send Spencer between tackles, and Merrell likewise has caught on to the fact that he can make hay on the outside by sending holdover D.J. Ward and newcomer Mitchell Harrison out on sweeps to each side. He just needs to do it more, to open the interior for Spencer more.
-- Both Kinnick and Zama, which each turned the ball over three times, have much to work on. Taking better care of the football, for starters. Execution, too, but of course that's going to happen the first game of the season.
-- Merrell clearly wasn't happy that his offense produced just 228 yards on 44 plays, including 183 on 40 carries. But that new QB Matt Cole went an economic 3-for-3 for 45 yards, all to Jonathan Neyland, had to be a pleasant surprise.
-- It may not have seemed like a good night for the Red Devils, but below the surface of just a 3-yard touchdown run by Richard Villareal and his two-point conversion lie a good many positives that portend a Kinnick football turnaround, perhaps by midseason.
-- New coach Daniel Joley's offensive scheme, kind of a hybrid single wing featuring plenty of traps, shows potential, but the Red Devils need to work on quickness in execution, getting the ball quickly to the backs and the backs hitting the holes fast and hard.
-- GREAT seeing Robert Stovall, architect of Kinnick's mid- to late-1990s dynasty, back in the saddle as Kinnick's defensive assistant, he of the two questions now updated after Joley's arrival: 1) Are you proud of the way you played? and 2) Did you play with passion? Pride and passion is the team's new motto.
-- Well, look what's back? Up north at Misawa Air Base, the Yokota ground machine produced 347 yards on 28 carries including six touchdown carries, four by Devin Day and two by Morgan Breazille as the Panthers clobbered Robert D. Edgren 49-8. Breazille added a 90-yard kick-return touchdown to begin the second half.
-- Just one game, of course, but I'd say Tim Pujol's Yokota Ground Machine might finally be back after a couple of years of slumping. But there is that home opener on Friday against defending Kanto Plain champion American School In Japan; that should be the litmus test.
-- Then again, injuries were a major factor in bungling things up for the Panthers the last two years. The common denominator? Losing fullbacks Tony Presnell and Rainey Daley the last two years. Keep the current crew healthy and there may be very little that can stop Yokota's wishbone attack.
-- To be fair, Edgren's run defense kept Yokota at bay between tackles, "but they ate us alive on the outside," first-year Eagles varsity coach Michael Gros said. Xavier Major's 25-yard touchdown catch from Zach Davis and Davis' two-point run accounted for Edgren's only points.
-- Speaking of solid ground games, Guam High's move away from the spread offense to its own wishbone attack paid solid dividends as David John Cruz, Devon Jacobs and Tegan Brown combined for four rushing touchdowns in a 26-8 win over Simon Sanchez.
-- Sounds as if Guam High has also dialed up the defense, behind Andrew Galvan and Thearits Eaton, who combined for 25 solo tackles.
-- And it also sounds as if there was no hangover from the decision earlier this week by Guam High to forego a shot at a Far East Division I title and honor its commitment to the Interscholastic Football League.
-- Still, that had to be some kind of a difficult decision for coach Billy Henry, his players and Panthers Football Nation. Can there be any doubt that 100 percent of the folks involved for certain was asking if there was any way they could both play for the IFL and the Division I titles? Unfortunately, life sometimes dictates you can only do one thing or another thing, but not both. Life's like that.
-- Here's how play-in weekend Oct. 16 will work now: Seoul American is automatically back in the Division I playoffs Nov. 6 and 12 on Okinawa. Japan's No. 2 will visit Okinawa's No. 2 on the 16th, with the winner to qualify for the playoffs. The No. 2 vs. No. 2 loser hosts Guam High on Oct. 30, which will serve as the Panthers' version of a DODDS playoff game.
-- It sort of works like the old Playoff Bowl that the NFL used to stage between its conference runners-up in the 1960s.
-- That may change -- again -- next season, when Osan American is expected to flip up to Division I when its enrollment will undoubtedly exceed 360.
Osan American's football team would seem to have all the pieces in place. Plenty of beef and quickness in the line, good skills-positions players, veteran leadership and good help from the PCS plane, plus a new coach from one of south Indiana's better programs.
That's just it, though. Aaron Mundy becomes the fourth coach in four seasons for the Cougars. And even he expressed concern to me how that might set with the Cougars. Fourth new coach, fourth new philosophy, fourth new gameplan ... especially in a team sport that involves so many people on both sides of the ball, coaching continuity is a must and is, many times, lacking within a DODDS program.
Nonetheless, Mundy, late of Heritage Hills High School where one of his pupils was one Jay Cutler, seems hopeful that everything can come together quickly and the Cougars can climb back into contention for their first DODDS Korea title and first Division II title since the DODDS Pacific Far East playoffs' inception in 2005.
Holdovers Avontae Jackson, Christian Maxfield and Dominic Olivero join Seoul American transfer Brian Morton in a line that would seem to rival Cougars lines of the past. Morton's brother, Brandon, will likely reprise his quarterback role. Devin Turner and Dominique Frazier will likely populate the backfield; Brandon Morton has holdover Dominique Williams and freshman tight end Michael Benson as potential targets.
"Our potential is incredible," Mundy said.
The Cougars open their season at home on Sept. 11 against Kubasaki of Okinawa, the first time these schools will meet on the gridiron.
Kinnick at Zama, 7 p.m.—A battle of young teams; eight combined returners. Host Trojans remain champions until somebody knocks them off … Trojans 13, Red Devils 10.
Yokota at Edgren, 7 p.m.—Strong home-grown crop of Panthers visit Eagles squad rebounding from poor 2009. … Panthers 17, Eagles 10.
Guam High vs. Simon Sanchez at Okkodo High School, 7 p.m.—Veteran Panthers squad should open in style. … Panthers 20, Sharks 13.
Daegu at Seoul, 6 p.m.—Each team ended last season on a down note in the DODDS Far East playoffs. Reigning Korea champion Warriors still hold the cards. … Warriors 18, Falcons 11.
John F. Kennedy at Okkodo, 7 p.m.—Islanders should hold sway against Bulldogs squad still trying to get going. … Islanders 16, Bulldogs 7.
The two teams sport arguably the Pacific's best middle blockers in Kristina Bergman and Destinee Harrison and perhaps the top outside hitter (and best levitator) in Liz "Skywalker" Gleaves.
They were key reasons why a season ago Daegu American won its second Far East Division II tournament title in five years on its home court, and why Seoul American nearly matched its school-best finish, taking third in the Division I tournament on Guam.
The three are also a big reason why this season is pivotal for the Warriors, who've tasted victory and want more, and the Falcons, who are hungry for a title to give 31st-year coach Denny Hilgar a going-away present in what he says is his swan song season.
"It's now or never," Hilgar said, perhaps stating the obvious for both teams. The Falcons enter the campaign with Gleaves and Harrison, but hoping that junior Tiffany Mitchell can fill the giant shoes left by setter Brittany Grandy, that fellow junior Hannah Swafford can step in for departed opposite hitter Megan Chase and that senior Jackie Curry can be a force at Libero.
Joining reigning Division II tournament MVP Bergman are fellow returning seniors Angie Robinet and Gulee Kwon, while Fort Lewis, Wash., bestowed on Camp George two transfer gifts in Desiree Johnson and Destinee Post.
All five are seniors. Coach Joanna Wyche wants them to remember this year as the one in which just a second DODDS team has ever won back-to-back Far East tournament titles ... and also to avoid the big head that sometimes comes after winning a state tournament.
"The girls have to know that nothing comes easy. Nothing is given," Wyche said. "Simply because we won it doesn't mean it will be placed back in our hands this year. It all starts over again. The higher we are, the harder we could fall."
DODDS Korea's teams open their Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference on Sept. 8.
Playing and/or coaching for Daegu American's football team might resemble walking on a tightrope without a net. Thrilling to see a squad of so few players succeed, as the Warriors did by winning their first Korea football title of any kind in 16 years, and barely losing out 46-38 to Zama American in the Division II title game.
But also a team that can cause anxious moments because the roster is so thin. An injury or three to key players could be the difference between a DODDS Korea title repeat ... and a subpar or even a winless season. Thus are the vagaries of trying to piece together a football team at a school with a student population of 175 -- DODDS Pacific's smallest football-playing school.
Coach Ken Walter's Warriors are solid in the line, with seniors Jarel Connie and Chris Hillman and junior Daniel Santil forming the core. Senior Tre Griffin returns at quarterback and has added footspeed to his repertoire which could make Walter's spread attack that much more dangerous. Watch out for key performers Christian Dawes, a senior, and junior Darius Wyche, receivers and secondary men both.
Hard work in the offseason has left the Warriors "better off than we were last year at this time," Walter said. That being the case, Daegu sure has a leg up on booking its tickets to Japan for the Division II title game, and might even make it a school-first two straight DODDS Korea titles.
Daegu opens at 6 p.m. Saturday at Seoul American's Sims Field.
A run of six straight DODDS Korea football titles for Seoul American came to an inglorious end last fall, when Daegu American won its first Korea grid title of any kind since 1993, when Daegu and Osan American held the Falcons to just one regular-season win ... when Seoul American got routed 44-0 in the Far East Division I title game against Kadena ... and had to vacate their only two wins and that second-place finish for using an ineligible player.
"Nowhere to go but up," said new/old coach Billy Ratcliff. He was the Falcons' offensive coordinator two years ago when Seoul American edged Kadena 22-21 in the Class AA title game; now, he's charged with taking over a program that suffered its worst season in school history last fall.
Ratcliff and the Falcons begin that journey from the deepest of valleys with a young squad -- a quarter of the roster is populated by freshmen and sophomores -- with plenty of speed. Despite their youth, they like to hit. But with any young team, the Falcons face a lack of depth and size.
Still, there's plenty of potential. Junior wideout Tommy Akinbayo may be the best example; he's never played football before, but he showed much during his six weeks with the Falcons' basketball team last winter.
Three key transfers might help: Ty White, a junior running back from Georgia; Herald Martin, a junior quarterback from AFNORTH in Europe and Chris Porter, a sophomore lineman from Texas. Luke Travis, a junior lineman, moves up north from Osan.
And there are holdovers Adrian Thomas, a senior, at slot and free safety and junior Cory Robinson at running back.
They may endure a few rough spots at first ... but good things might lie ahead if the potential manifests itself.
Some teams might panic if they lose talents such as receivers Tom Jardine and Chris Kleindl (733 yards, nine touchdowns) and the all-around play of three-way threat Alex Busam (1,021 total yards, 16 touchdowns).
Not reigning Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools champion American School In Japan, which appears primed to make a deep run at a second straight league title thanks to plenty of hungry reserves and junior varsity move-ups ready to take the place of 18 starters.
Headlining a team that went 7-2 last year, with its only losses coming at the hands of an H1N1 epidemic that hit the school, is junior quarterback Hayden Jardine, 2 inches taller, 30 pounds more muscle and a new release that if anything might make him more dangerous than his 46-for-91, 1,048 yards and 14 touchdowns ledger of last season.
Leo Benes returns after a year hiatus in the States to fill in on the line. Two-way threat Nathan Kwon also returns, along with senior running backs Andrew Stern and Joey Ferrero. The line has plenty of able bodies as well. The question is how quickly they can prove themselves to be equal to last year's unit.
ASIJ has never won back-to-back Kanto Plain titles. If everything falls together, this could be that year. Their season opens Sept. 3 at Yokota, which the Mustangs beat twice last season for the first time since 1998.
Congratulations and a tip of the hat to Air Force's men, who won their fifth straight title, while Army's women edged out Navy in last week's All-Armed Forces basketball tournaments.
Meanwhile, two Korea-based players were named to the All-Armed Forces women's team.
Muneerah Williams of Kunsan Air Base and Aguanita Burras of Yongsan Garrison will play in the International Military Sports Council (CISM) championships Sept. 8-18 at Seoul.
Coaching the All-Armed Forces team will be Tony Reed and Aaron Bryant of Yongsan. They coached the All-Army team to the women's All-Armed Forces title with a 56-53 edging of Navy. Air Force downed Army 81-75 for the men's title.
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer rues the fact that these fall high school sports walkthroughs get tougher and tougher every year:
-- In March 1982, Ornauer covered the Navy Western Pacific Basketball Tournament at old Thew Gym, Yokosuka Naval Base. When the tournament ended and I said my goodbyes, I told the organizers, "See you next year." "Not here; this gym is being torn down," they replied.
-- Well, it took 28 more years for it to finally happen, but Old Thew is now a field of sod surrounded by orange construction barriers. (would somebody chime in with what Old Thew will actually become?).
-- Sure, the sparkling George I. Purdy Fitness & Sports Center is glittering, gleaming and as thoroughly modern Millie a facility as you'll ever see.
-- But ... Thew had atmosphere. Character. Ambience. And tons and tons of history:
-- Thew was home to the DODDS Pacific Far East Wrestling Tournaments from their inception in 1976 to 1990, with Loretta Lane doing the bracketing and organizing every year. After a six-year hiatus, the tournament returned in 1996-97, 2000-01 and 2006-07.
-- Faith Academy's girls basketball team won two of its Class AA Tournament titles en route to its fabled Drive for Five in the late 1990s. It also saw host Nile C. Kinnick win the second of its back-to-back Girls Class AA titles in 1996.
-- And many a WestPac tournament, which in 1988, '89 and '90 saw arguably the best company-level team in Pacific interservice basketball history: Point guard Carlos Jones, off-guard Mike Henry, swingman Vince Wray, Dr. Dunk center James Little and two-time All-Navy guard Gerry Turner.
-- At Yokosuka, ran into Robert Stovall, late of Naval Station Rota, Spain, where he'd coached football the last five years. He helmed Nile C. Kinnick's football team to its run of four straight Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools championships, 1995-98. The first two years triggered by the "Three Tomodachis" George Thompson, Jared Warner and LaShawn Williams, and the latter two by quarterbacks Rey Gannon, who simply refused to let his team lose, and Daniel Ayrs. Stovall transferred back to Kinnick after the 2009-10 school year.
-- What I loved best about Stovall's motivating techniques were the two questions he'd ask his team after every game: 1) Are you proud of the way you played, and 2) Did you play as hard as you can. If you can answer yes to both questions, it matters not what the final score is, is Stovall's philosophy.
-- Watched Yokota beat Nihon University Buzan High School's Crows on Friday 41-29 in the Panthers' tuneup for their season opener Friday at Robert D. Edgren. Was very impressed with Crows running back Toshiki Sekiya, who scored three touchdowns. Quick and fast. Speed to burn. He'll be playing X-League ball someday.
-- Best eatery: The Shima Store on the south side of Yokota High's Bonk Field served up a luscious chicken bowl, marinated chicken strips with rice and corn. A tremendous value at $3.
-- Best hair: The Mohawk sported by Zama American's lone returning lineman, Roland Cote.
-- Visited the memorial to the late Capt. Sean Patrick Sims, a 1990 Seoul American graduate who was killed in action at Fallujah in November 2004. A simple black marble stand with an inscription comemorating the ceremony in May which dedicated the field. "A nice ceremony," recalled 31-year Seoul American teacher and coach Denny Hilgar. Among those who attended were Falcons boys volleyball coach Lori Rogers, who graduated with Sims' brother Tom in 1992.
-- If Katie Darby, Seoul American's star softball right-hander, seems a tad nervous, let me illuminate: She's headed next week to Seattle for an appearance at the University of Washington's softball showcase. It's a two-day affair, next Monday and Tuesday, at which they stage simulated games and "make you do everything" from pitching to playing positions to hitting and fielding. Good luck, Katie. :)
They'd posted their finest Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam regular season at 5-1 and matched their school-best Interscholastic Football League playoff finish by taking third place.
But at the DODDS Pacific playoffs last November on Okinawa, the bottom fell out. First was the Panthers' 15-0 shocking defeat against Seoul American, followed by a 24-7 loss to Yokota in the third-place game.
Coach Billy Henry says he and his Panthers have learned their lesson. Armed with plenty of veterans (15 starters) who remember the debacle on Okinawa well, the Panthers plan to keep things simple. No more spread offense. Plenty of wishbone attack, heralded by the team's backbone, its offensive line. It averages 265 pounds and most have played for three years in the Panther program.
Paul Floyd takes over at quarterback, and he'll be handing off plenty to D.J. Cruz. Devon Jacobs still remains a threat at receiver.
But in a big way, it's now or never. Of those 15 returnees, 13 are seniors. "Thiss is our shot. Now or rebuild," Henry said.
It begins Friday at 7 p.m. against Simon Sanchez at Okkodo High School.
After a sub-par 3-5 season and an end to its three-year Far East Division II football title streak, new Robert D. Edgren coach Michael Gros feels his Eagles might show some signs of life.
Nine players are back from 2009, eight of them starters, and eight players move up from the junior varsity, which Gros coached the last two seasons before replacing Chris Waite, who coached the Eagles from 2006-09.
Liike most Eagles teams, the 2010 version isn't very deep. But Gros feels opponents will likely have difficulty with Edgren's run defense. And there's plenty of experience on both sides of the ball, with plenty of senior leadership in quarterback Zach Davis, fullback Sayer Austin, lineman Trevor Johnson and receiver/cornerback Xavier Major.
We'll see how much the Eagles have rebounded when they entertain Yokota in Friday's DODDS Japan League opener.
Check this out. Just goes to show you, it can be done. Gabriella Matautia played for Seoul American in 2005 and '06, when the Falcons placed in the top eight of the Far East High School Girls Class AA Volleyball Tournaments at Yongsan Garrison. She transferred to Ewa, Hawaii, and is now in Philadelphia and on the Temple Owls' roster. Division I. Atlantic-10 Conference. Good stuff!
Never before had Nile C. Kinnick girls volleyball enjoyed such a campaign. Unbeaten 27-0 regular-season record. School-first Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools and DODDS-Japan league titles. And favored status entering last November's Far East Class AA Tournament on Guam.
Then ... wham! A team that Kinnick beat in straight sets two weeks earlier, Christian Academy Japan downed the Red Devils 18-25, 25-10, 17-15 in the Class AA quarterfinals and would go on to win its third Far East title in four years.
This was a now-or-never team for coach Al Garrido, with super hitters Mary Niemeyer, Camille Kawamoto and Shannon Jackson either transferring or graduating.
Garrido had enjoyed a four-year run of success with Southern from 2000-03, reaching three Far East finals and winning two titles.
Now, he faces something he's never had to deal with in 20 years of coaching: the mother of all rebuilding jobs.
"It's tough coaching in DODDS. I've never had it more difficult than this," said Garrido, who while at Southern would get a steady stream of replacement parts from Guam's middle-school program. There is no such animal in DODDS, which means most teams must start their players from scratch unless they're fortunate enough to get skilled players stepping off the plane from the States.
Senior setter Marina Nakayama is the one key component from last year's super squad. Still, that doesn't mean Garrido's cupboard is completely bare.
He does have 6-foot sophomore Mashia McKinney stepping in for Jackson; in face, Garrido says Mckinney "reminds me of Jackson as a sophomore." Then, there's Emily Stith, a junior, the other middle blocker. Senior Vicki Hollingshead returns; she saw plenty of minutes, as did Stith. And Garrido is developing sophomore Jerimae Sapuyan as a setter to replace Nakayama when she graduates.
Maybe this team won't duplicate last year's success, but Garrido says the Red Devils are "excited about defending our titles" and he believes that "what we did last year was good for all DODDS teams. We all have great athletes. We all can compete with international schools.
That said, Garrido left no doubt whom he feels will compete for the Class AA title in November at Seoul American: "I fully expect Seoul American to be in the 2010 finals."
If there's one thing Nile C. Kinnick football became noted for in the 2000s, it was the brother tandems who suited up for Red Devil Nation.
First, it was Brenden and Leonard Lynce, whose arrival and departure marked the most recent salad days for Red Devils football in 2003 and 2004. Then came Clay and Chad Atchley, who were more baseball stars than football ones, but did help running-back teammate Larynzo Abernathy rack up huge running totals.
Now, we find on the Devils' roster senior safety/receiver Alex Kimbrell and his brother, junior Dustin, a cornerback/running back who come to Yokosuka Naval Base from Croatan High School in North Carolina. Among the most talented to step off the plane for Kinnick in quite a while, one assistant coach referred to them as "impact" players. "Two-way starters, very technical experience, understanding of the game and the finer points of the game."
They're certainly a huge addition to a Kinnick squad that welcomes a new head coach, Daniel Joley, hired out of North Side High School in Fort Wayne, Ind., and only five returners, all starters, from last year's Red Devils squad which recorded one victory in nine games.
Kinnick sports plenty of backfield and tight-end depth, but will have to break in yet another new quarterback and has the fewest returning offensive linemen in quite some time. Teh Devils are smaller in size but longer on speed than they were a season ago. Just a question, the same assistant tells me, of how long it will take the team to jel.
Kinnick opens Aug. 28 at Zama American; Yokota takes on Robert D. Edgren in the other opener.
As part of our expanding high school sports coverage on the www.stripes.com Web site, we'd like to find former DODDS Pacific or international school students who've made the grade as they moved onto bigger and better things post-high school.
We plan to feature them in a recurring "Where are they now?" segment in SportsBlog Nation. We've spotlighted a few former Pacific students before, such as the following:
Jennifer Rizzotti, University of Hartford women's basketball coach, played her freshman year of volleyball and basketball at American School In Japan.
Angie Goff, WUSA TV's traffic, weather and feature reporter and news anchor fill-in, played basketball at Seoul American in 1994 and 1995 as an eighth-grader and freshman.
Kevin Maxwell, vice president in charge of operations for DHL on the east coast out of West Hartford, Conn., first four-time All-Kanto football and first four-time All-Far East basketball selection out of Zama American and Stripes' first Athlete of the Year.
What I'd like from people who've done similar things to do is the following:
-- Provide your name, first, last and, if applicable, what people knew you by.
-- What Pacific school did you attend?
-- What year did you graduate? Or what year did you transfer from the Pacific?
-- What sports did you play?
-- Who coached you and how can they be found?
-- What on-field/on-court honors did you earn during high school?
-- What university/college did you attend, what sports did you play and what honors did you earn?
-- What significant accomplishments have you made since leaving college that have come to identify who you are and what you do?
It was a season like no other in Zama American football history: First DODDS Japan Football League title, first DODDS Pacific Division II football title, school record 1,154 yards and 12 touchdowns on 172 carries for then-junior fullback Michael Spencer.
But the shouting in the streets of Camp Walker, South Korea, where Zama beat Daegu American 46-38 for that small-schools crown last Nov. 7 had barely died down when the realisation sunk in: Trojan Nation would only return three players off that roster.
Spencer is among those three, yes. But what kind of line will plow the road for him now that Lee Spurling, John Iredale, Ken Schulteis and Tevin Johnson have graduated.
Only junior Roland Cote remains in the line, he having attended a Boston College football camp during the summer. Coach Steven Merrell, in his fourth campaign, says he's hopeful that Spencer, Cote and senior Matt Cole can provide the leadership and experience needed for what he expects to be a big learning curve.
Sophomore newcomer Mitchell Harrison, a running back/cornerback, is the lone key player who stepped off the plane this summer.
One thing that has changed is the expectation at Zama. No longer content just to contend, the Trojans now know what it takes to get to the top, Merrell said. Now, it's a matter of staying there, which may be a bigger challenge, but perhaps the Trojans are up to it.
They'll launch that challenge with the best facilities in school history. A new locker room has opened just off the school's gymnasium, a building complete with a weight room, training room and instructional room. Equipment is still sitting in boxes in the hallway, waiting to be broken out and put in useful places.
It might almost seem like a reward for a job well done for Merrell, but the addition had been in the works for some time.
Patrick Fisher, a 2007 Louisiana State graduate and All-Southeastern Conference punter for the 2006 BCS national champion Tigers, stopped by to talk to the Trojans during their instructional session Wednesday.
Asked about Nick Saban, who coached Fisher in LSU's 2004 BCS title season, Fisher said: "The players love him because he is so tough." Fisher predicted that Saban, who coached Alabama to a BCS title last January, could reel off "three or four more titles in 10 years" if Saban remains at Tuscaloosa.
OK, so last year's tennis freshman flash, Erika Youngdahl, has transferred to reigning Far East Tournament champion Kadena, and Jimmy Niescier, Cristian Heimlich and Keleka Mobley have departed the cross country shelf?
Don't cry for Yokota coaches Tommy Palmer and Vince Szilagyi. If anything, their teams may be the deepest they've fielded in their five years each of coaching their respective teams.
As is the case with football, Szilagyi's cross-country team sports a handful of runners in their second and third years with the program, such as juniors Michael Faulkner, Noah Swygert and Johnny Cope and senior Lexus Perez.
But it's the new faces who may make the greatest impact. Byron Wren (senior) and Josh Askew (junior) come over from the football program, while junior Seth and sophomore Abigail Wall arrived, adorned with a nice, neat bow, a gift from Kubasaki High School on Okinawa.
Lost in all the noise that Youngdahl made as the first DODDS player to win a Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools singles gold medal and her Final Four finish at Far East was, among other things, the rise of doubles pair Misa Brophy (junior) and Anju Yamanaka (sophomore). Together with new No. 1 singles player Erika Ettl, expect this girls team to contend at Far East.
The boys team is still coming together, but freshman transfer from Missouri Mason McDaniels and freshman Aaron Pak give Palmer and the Panthers hope for the present and future years.
Even before you set foot on Yokota High School's Bonk Field to watch the 2010 edition of Panthers football, better take a detour to Capps Gym, where the weight room became workout central over the summer -- and not just for football players, but for athletes in all sports.
YHS athletics officials for decades have been handing out "Pig Iron Club" awards to those who meet a certain standard. Over the summer, seven girls -- the most in school history -- and seven boys -- the most since the 1980s -- were accorded such honors. As many as 55 showed up for a July morning session, and 48 attended the post "Pig Iron Club's" cookout.
Where football is concerned, that means a line which averaged 165 pounds last season has grown by leaps and bounds, on a team that is the most home-grown Panthers squad in Tim Pujol's 12 seasons as Yokota coach. Jesse Hogan, a sophomore, is a prime example of growth, up to 240 pounds from last year, when he barely tipped the scales at 200.
Not too many marquee names return, but a wealth of experience does -- 12 players who suited up for the trip to the Far East Division I playoffs on Okinawa last November return, along with nearly two dozen junior varsity moveups. Just one player stepped off the plane, Roosevelt Neely, a senior running back/cornerback who transferred from Missouri.
The team may not have what Pujol termed "Kadena depth," referring to the defending Division I champions, but Yokota will be wealthy at quarterback, with senior Miles Andrews starting and sophomore Stanley Speed waiting in the wings. Senior Devin Day also returns, to fill the spot vacated by the departed Gerald McCloud.
Other than Seoul American and Guam High, which were given automatic berths to the Division I playoffs in past years (a practice that will end this season), Yokota is the only team to make the Division I playoffs every year since their inception in 2005. A sixth straight berth, and possibly an 11th Japan Football League and Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools title in Pujol's 12 years is definitely within the conversation.
Kubasaki football has had it rough since its salad days of winning the Far East Division I title five years ago, behind the power and versatility of multi-threat athletes such as David Motu and Timmy Gardner.
Those days are long gone, replaced by four years of hard work and trying, but ceaseless frustration as the Dragons have watched their island rival Kadena Panthers hold a monolith over the Okinawa Activities Council crown and win two Division I crowns.
Coach Fred Bales hopes an offseason that saw his charges work harder than they have in years will translate to success. That would mean finally beating Kadena in a regular-season game for the first time since the 2005 season.
Perhaps the best athlete Kubasaki has had since Motu and Gardner, junior A.J. Watson, might be the spark the Dragons need. Speedy and flashy, he can shine at either quarterback or running back.
He'll be joined by returning seniors Deon Lewis (running back), Jake Wood (line) and junior Ja'la Patton (receiver, defensive back), along with senior transfer Patrick Showman from Pace High School in Niceville, Fla.
They'll work hard and at the very least try to contend in every game they play. But with Kadena sporting two speedy backs in Shariff Coleman and Thomas McDonald, the mountain may yet be just a tad high for the Dragons to climb. We'll see.
Installment # 1 of a series of glances during Ornauer's fall high school football walkthrough.
One would think with an entire starting backfield returning, led by seniors Shariff Coleman (1,152 yards, 20 touchdowns, 122 carries) and Thomas McDonald (685, 16, 65) that the reigning Far East Division I football champion Kadena Panthers were in good shape to make a run at a second straight title.
One would think.
But give the team a glance past those star-studded performers and coach Sergio Mendoza insists that while it may not look like it, Kadena has some serious position issues to address, along with one quality that any successful team needs: On-field leadership.
Senior quarterbacks Stan Schrock and Norm Correa have departed, along with graduated center Sean O'Neil, creating that leadership vacuum. "We have a lot of followers, but no leaders" in the mold of those three, Mendoza said.
Right now, seniors Rodney Goodson and Lotty Smith will share the quarterbacking duties. Anchoring the line are brothers Gabe and Aaron Ahner; Mendoza might also get a boost in the secondary from Cory Peckins, a senior transfer from Division II champion Zama American, his third school in as many seasons.
Mendoza expects a "painful growing process for awhile, but we should be OK later."
Peckins has a chance to do what no other Far East football player has ever done -- win back-to-back Far East titles in different divisions with different teams. David Leh did it at the Division II level in 2005 with Osan American and 2006 with Robert D. Edgren.
Peckins and the Panthers are also due to visit Zama on Sept. 25, the first matchup of Division I and II champions in the regular season since 2006.
Speaking of interarea matchups, Kadena and Kubasaki, after years of waiting, will starting this season play against Seoul, Osan and Daegu American of South Korea in DODDS-funded regular-season contests.
"At last, we have a real season schedule," Mendoza said, thanking those in DODDS Pacific who helped make it happen.
The first such showdown pits Seoul American at Kadena on Sept. 4.
They very nearly began Friday's final pool-play game with a mere nine players in their lineup; only by gametime did a 10th show up. And after one inning, it appeared to be totally not worth it 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, which spotted host Marine Corps Base Camp S.D. Butler a 5-0 lead.
But as Wing, the two-time defending champions looked out over the start of the double-elimination playoffs, there they were, owning the top playoff seed after rallying for four runs in the bottom of the seventh to edge Base 9-8. Wing handed 3rd Marine Logistics Group a similar heartbreak in Tuesday's opening games, scoring five times in the seventh to win by an identical score.
"They don't quit," said coach Jeremy "Meaty" Hinkhouse, hero of Wing's two-game championship triumph that began its title run two years ago.
Admittedly, he said it would be nicer if Wing would begin to find its offensive feet before the seventh inning. "It would help my blood pressure," he said.
Kelly Wallen's RBI single tied the game 8-8. Then Chris Wine, the baserunner in front of Wallen, made a head fake that he says he learned from former American Legion teammate Dan Miller. He induced an outfield throw to second base, Wine dashed for third, then home when he saw the outfield throw miss the cutoff man.
Without such All-Marine stalwarts as Richie Krause and Tim Vannoy, with nine All-Marine selections between them having transferred to the States in the last few months, "defense has been keeping us in games," Wine said.
With the comeback win over Base, Wing got the rest of Friday evening off and didn't have a game until 8 a.m. Saturday.
Virtually every year, it's the same ritual for many a Marine softball player on Okinawa. They usually suit up for teams such as Legion, Code Red, First Round/Last Round, Public Enemy and Master Batters on Okinawa's open circuit.
But the week of the Marine Regionals, players who've been battling alongside each other are dispersed to their unit teams and end up battling each other, and vice versa. It's a situation that one coach says makes things "interesting."
"There's never a stagnant moment in softball on Okinawa. It's always nice to mix it up," said Travis Oakley, who coaches First Round/Last Round on the open circuit and this week coaches 3rd Marine Logistics Group.
His MLG team includes a handful of First Round-Last Round players. Two-time Regionals champion 1st Marine Aircraft Wing resembles Master Batters, while host Marine Corps Base Camp S.D. Butler sports many Public Enemy players.
Always, a handful of experienced open veterans end up on each of the regional teams "who can mentor the younger players" which makes for a good situation, Oakley said.
Perhaps the most interesting name combination found on the seven Regionals teams' rosters could be found with III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, which features players named Alfredo Gomez and Jacob Adams. Definitely an Addams Family connection. Now, all the team needs is infielders named Pugsley and Wednesday, a catcher named Fester, a trainer named Lurch and a batboy named Thing. Oh, and the coach's wife needs a name change ... Morticia.
Headlines that will never be written, riffing off another name on 3rd MLG's roster:
Webb gem: Catcher's sparking play helps MLG vanquish opponent (for 3rd MLG catcher/designated hitter Ron Webb).
Todd Hodgkinson could have easily walked away from the game last summer, after suffering a broken nose during a Marine Corps Western Pacific Regional Softball Tournament game.
Instead, Hodgkinson remained with the game, and is pitching again for 3rd Marine Logistics Group, which won its two games on Day 3 of this year's WestPac Tournament.
And he's still fielding sizzling shots off opponents' bats sent screaming through the box -- five total in Wednesday's two games.
"It's my last regional," said Hodgkinson, 44, a Camp Kinser-based master sergeant from Southgate, Mich., who plans to retire from the Marines next spring.
He says he's carrying on the tradition of pitchers who've come before, such as Richie Krause, the American Legion three-time All-Marine who retired last month.
"You're never too old to play," Hodgkinson said. "And I also like to teach the younger generation of players."
Nearly making the supreme sacrifice three years ago in the swirling sands of Iraq helped give Rodney Buentello, who plays for Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni a new perspective on life.
"Every day is a special day," said Buentello, 37, a master sergeant from San Antonio who earned a Purple Heart after his vehicle was blown up by a roadside bomb while he was deployed with the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. "Sunrises. Sunsets. Angry people don't bother me any more."
He continues his recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder, attending therapy along with his wife, Lisa. "It's been a rough two years," Buentello said, adding that the big adjustment to life away from the "sandbox" is "everything used to be go-go-go, and then time just stopped."
Part of his new perspective can be found in his encouraging younger players after a tough loss. "Why are you upset?" he'll ask his teammates. "It's just a game."
Compared to what he endured in 2007, that's so entirely true.
Unusual names are invariably bull's-eye-sized targets for bullies in high school. Such was not the case growing up for Francisco Poo, a three-sport star at his Yuma, Ariz., high school and a rather large, muscular breakfast of champions best left untouched by his peers.
"Being good at sports really helped," said Poo, 29, a 6-foot, 210-pound sergeant assigned to Camp Foster playing for 3rd MLG. "You get some smart remarks here and there, but most times, people know to be careful what they say.
All games will be played at Camp Foster, after all, in the 2010 Marine Corps Western Pacific Regional Softball Tournament.
Wednesday's games, originally scheduled for Field 2 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma because of an official function, will be played at Foster Field 1, the function apparently having been canceled.
It sprinkled a bit here and there, but all six of Tuesday's games, all postponed from Monday,. got played, and so far, it's looking like a two-way battle between Marine Corps Base Camp S.D. Butler and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
Trying different lineup combinations, Base made quick work of its two foes, handing III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group a 9-1 defeat in its first Far East Regional competition, then pounding Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni 15-1 in five innings; Carl Holden and Charles English combined for five RBIs.
Wing had a tougher road, needing five runs in the bottom of the seventh to rally past 3rd Marine Logistics Group 9-8, with Rob Pettit's two-run single capping the comeback. Wing then pounded U.S. Naval Hospital Camp Lester 20-3 in five innings.
Why the name change from Far East Regional to Western Pacific Regional? Little more than cosmetic reasons; "It's the same thing," one Marine Corps Community Services Semper Fit Athletics program official said.
Player watch: Two guys everybody had trouble keeping off base on Tuesday were Josh "Mongo" O'Brien of Wing and 3rd Marine Division's Robert Stoecker. The former went 7-for-8 with two doubles and two RBIs in two games; Stoecker was 6-for-7 with an in-park home run, a triple and four RBIs.
Congratulations to III MHG on its first win in Regional competition; they erupted for six first-inning runs and never looked back in a 12-7 triumph over Division in the evening's penultimate game.
Kudos to MCCS Semper Fit Athletics for the new-look uniforms for this year's Regionals. Prior to this year, teams could expect to don simple unit colors with plain numbers on the back; this year, each command's jerseys sport a new, spiffy design, jersey numbers on front and back, even on the right hip of the trousers and the ballcaps. Definitely more tricked out than the very ordinary uniforms of years past.
Michael Montoya Sr. and Michael Jr. continue to make Regionals history. Last year, they were the first father-son combination to play in a Far East Regional; this year, they became the first to play in back-to-back Regionals for Base.
"Senior," 44, a first sergeant, and "Junior," 25, a sergeant, are each assigned to Camp Foster's Headquarters & Services Battalion. They hail from San Miguel, N.M.
"Last year, we were a bit nervous" playing regionals together, Senior said. What has helpd over time is playing on the same on-island open team, Public Enemy. That has helped make them more "relaxed and having a great time" on the field, he said.
With Monday's slate of 2010 Marine Corps Western Pacific Regional Softball Tournament games washed out, attention turns to Tuesday, and the hope that action can begin, get in at least a handful of games and get the thing off the ground.
Monday's six-game slate has been pushed back to Tuesday, Tuesday's to Wednesday, Wednesday's to Thursday, etc., in the pool-play phase of the tournament. That will run 4 1/2 days into Friday, with the last game at 6 p.m.
Note on the schedule that Wednesday's games are all slated for Field 2 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, instead of the tournament's customary spot at Foster Field 1. Since Futenma's field is far shorter, at 280 feet, than Foster, a home-run limit is being implemented, called "Six One Up." Each team is limited to six home runs per game; however, if the teams are tied with six each, one or the other may hit one more to go "one up" on the other. Then, the other team may hit two more to go "one up" on the first team.
Once play returns to Foster on Thursday, home-run limits go away.
Most of the double-elimination phase of the tournament has been backloaded into Saturday. The first three playoff games are at 8, 9:15 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, with the remaining games starting at 8 a.m. Saturday and continuing until the 7 p.m. championship game, and the "if necessary" deciding game at 8:15 p.m.
That's all assuming the weather cooperates. Forecasts call for rain and wind to taper off by Tuesday afternoon, with partly cloudy skies and a chance of showers the rest of the week.
However, if rain disrupts play yet again on Tuesday, look for Marine Corps Community Services Semper Fit Athletics officials, who run the tournament, to implement "Plan C or D," as tournament organizer Corey Carter put it in an e-mail announcing the revised schedule.
They'd hoped to play six games Monday in the 2010 Marine Corps Western Pacific Regional Softball Tournament. Instead, they got a healthy dose of Tropical Storm Dianmu.
The fifth numbered storm of the 2010 northwest Pacific tropical cyclone season forced the six opening-day games of the tournament to be pushed back to Tuesday. And Tuesday's weather forecast looks no better than Monday's; 50-percent chance of rain and showers until 6 p.m., with a break in the evening, followed by 60-percent chance of rain and showers on Wednesday.
The WestPac tournament runs through Saturday.
Seven teams, the most since 2005, are vying for tournament championship honors:
-- Marine Corps Base Camp S.D. Butler, Okinawa.
-- 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Okinawa.
-- 3rd Marine Division, Okinawa.
-- III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, Okinawa
-- 3rd Marine Logistics Group, Okinawa.
-- U.S. Naval Hospital Camp Lester, Okinawa.
-- Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
From those seven teams, six players will earn berths in the All-Marine men's softball tryout camp, scheduled for Aug. 27-Sept. 17 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.
The All-Marine team then plays in the All-Armed Forces tournament Sept. 18-24 at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. Players selected to the All-Armed Forces team next play in the Amateur Softball Association's national championship tournament scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 4 at ASA headquarters in Oklahoma City.
Summer vacations are never long enough, are they? So it seems, as we approach three weeks before the school bells ring, the classrooms buzz with activity and sports teams prepare for competition as the 2010-11 school year gets under way.
It also means another year of newcomers to Pacific SportsBlog, your home for discussion and debate on your favourite players, teams and timely topics of the day.
But before the merriment and fineries of interscholastic athletics begin, here's a gentle reminder of why SportsBlog is here and what it means for you, the reader. Once again, with apologies to FOX News commentator Bill O'Reilly's signature line:
Coaches putting depth charts on whiteboards, diagramming basic option plays and 4-3 defenses. Managers dragging blocking sleds and tackling dummies, cones and water jugs on carts to the practice field. Players gazing out the window as the alarm clock jangles at 4:30 a.m., looking at the half-light of early dawn and going, "Welp, here we go again."
Can you say ... two-a-days?
Yep, we're just a couple of days from the start of official Pacific high school football practice. Be they Eagle of Edgren or Panther of Guam High, they'll be back on Monday, with sultry, sweltering conditions greeting football players as they do their conditioning sprints and go through the routine of readying for the 2010 campaign.
That will be followed -- if they're not already working out -- by the thwock! of tennis balls, cross-country runners lacing up their spikes and volleyball players slamming those spikes inside that 10-foot line.
And the classrooms that have been silent since mid-June will buzz again with activity, counting down the minutes until the dismissal bell sounds. Time for another practice.
Football season begins earlier this year than ever, with Korea, Japan and Guam kicking off on Aug. 27; Zama American begins its Division II title defense at home to Nile C. Kinnick. Okinawa follows with home games at Kubasaki on Sept. 3 and Kadena opening defense of its Division I title on Sept. 4.
I tried this two years ago. Let's call this a three-weeks-before-school-starts roll call.
A quick examination of the All-Air Force men's and women's softball tryout camp selections reveals 10 from the Pacific, four who've been there, done that.
But a deeper look reveals a strong connection -- on the men's side -- with the Pacific's current softball power, American Legion, which has won its last four consecutive Pacific Grand Slam tournaments.
No fewer than eight who have either played or are playing for Legion will be at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., for the men's camp Aug. 25-Sept. 17. They are:
-- Michael Charvat, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa.
-- Dan Miller, Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.
-- J.C. Cross, Hanscom Field, Mass.
-- Dexter High, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
-- Chris Simpson, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
-- Chris "Moose" Bast, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea
-- Joey Chastain, Aviano Air Base, Italy
-- Kevin Cumbie, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho
The eight have contributed to Legion's second-place standing in the all-time Grand Slam ledger, with 13 tournament titles, second to defunct Pacific Force (39).
Bast, with four All-Air Force and two All-Armed Forces selections, will join veterans Chris Markey (5, 4) and Michael Jenkins (3,2) from Osan Air Base in South Korea at the camp. First-timer Charvat will be joined by Travis Haywood of Misawa Air Base, Japan.
On the women's side, one veteran, 2009 All-Air Force player Michele Polachek, will represent Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, at the women's camp Aug. 25-Sept. 17 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.
She's joined by rookies Chelsea Kemper of Yokota Air Base, Japan; Jessica Meadows of Kadena; Kunsan's Jennifer Hardy; and Osan's Samantha Ward.
The 15-player All-Air Force teams will defend their 2009 titles in the All-Armed Forces tournaments Sept. 18-24 at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. The All-Armed Forces teams then move on to the Amateur Softball Association national championships at ASA headquarters in Oklahoma City, Sept. 30-Oct. 4.
Surely, one knows the visible quantitative and qualitative benefits of building a body beautiful. Aside from rounding into fantabulous shape, you're the attention of the opposite gender -- and envy of the same gender -- by the score as you walk by.
But there are some benefits from the sport that one might not easily see ... such as -- believe it or not -- the health and well-being of a marriage. :)
Take the fact that there were no fewer than four married couples and one brother act in the competition. Three of the couples were Marine husband and dependent wife, two of the competitors emerging as weight/height category winners in the men's bodybuilding and women's figure competition.
Chief Warrant Officer 2nd Class Matt Ortensic and his wife Erica, Staff Sgt. Alfred "El Chato" Morin and his wife Sammie and Staff Sgt. James Zipen and his wife Heather were the American couples. Chato Morin won the men's middleweight and Heather Zipen the women's over-5-foot-4 figure titles.
"Their commitment was amazing," Heather Zipen said. "They juggled work, dieting and family life. One Marine lost 63 pounds and another lost 40. I know that it brought my husband and I closer doing the training, dieting and finally the show together. It was crazy at times, but still an awesome experience to share with each other."
With obesity at all-time levels in the States, such stories connected to a sport "that gets a lot of negativity would help in motivating people to commit to a healthier lifestyle," Heather Zipen said.
The Japanese couple Ken Adaniya and his wife Kaoru also emerged as champions; Kaoru edged Heather Zipen for the overall women's figure title, while Ken took the light-middleweight crown.
Light-middleweight competitor Mitsuhiro Gima and masters entrant Sakae Gima didn't win any hardware, but they were noteworthy for their selection of music, each from a Rocky movie soundtrack song by Survivor: Mitsuhiro performed to "Burning Heart" from Rocky IV featuring Dolph Lundgren and Sakae to "Eye of the Tiger" from Rocky III featuring Laurence Taureaud, or Mr. T.
For four years, Jen Abel piled up goal-scoring records that were simply stratospheric. As a Kadena Panther from 2004-07, Abel broke her own sister Dianne's records for goals in a single season (83) and career (192) as the Panthers won three gold medals and one bronze on Jen's watch.
Now, Jen's wearing a uniform of a different sort -- that of a lance corporal in the United States Marine Corps. She is assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 on Camp Foster.
"That's a five-minute walk from my office," said her father, David, a retired Marine captain who works at Camp Foster's safety office. "It's really cool."
As for Dianne, she has one more year of undergraduate work at University of West Florida, after which she'll be taking graduate courses.
Long before one sets out to sculpt body beautiful for performances in front of appreciative audiences, be it at Camp Foster's theater or on the sport's biggest stage, one must prepare by scripting what exactly to put inside that body.
"The best diet wins," says Zoa Linsey, a pro bodybuilder and fitness trainer at Kadena Air Base's Risner Fitness & Sports Center on Okinawa.
"You eat the most boring food you can imagine," Linsey says, adding that she recommends "restricted calories, high protein, low fat and moderate carbohydrates. It's different for everybody."
Linsey was among the sellout crowd of 810 which packed Foster's theater on Sunday for Marine Corps Community Services' 15th Far East Bodybuilding Competition. Some 52 competitors showed their stuff, women's figure and bodybuilding and men's bodybuilding, for about 4 1/2 hours.
Highlighting the evening was a performance by retired Navy chief petty officer and IBFF pro Leo Ingram, his second visit to the event in four years.
Linsey trained 11 of the 52 competitors in the event, nine of whom have finished in the top three in prior competitions.
The 38-year-old from Vancouver, British Columbia, has been training and competing for 15 years. She got her pro card covering North America in August 2009, and is currently in training for the Miss Olympia competition Sept. 24 at Las Vegas.
Linsey for five years has been married to the current Torii Station fitness & sports director Joseph Kumzak. While Kumzak was working at the Yano Fitness Center at Camp Zama, five years ago, the two met on the Internet at www.bodybuildingsingles.com. "And it worked," Kumzak said.
Joe Renteria and his Pope Air Force Base All-American Bombers added yet another tournament to their cache of honors, capturing the North Carolina United States Slowpitch Softball Association state tournament for the second straight year.
That makes the Bombers 4-for-4 in tournaments this season. Renteria, a former Pacific Air Forces Tournament star with Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, in the 1980s and arguably the Air Force's best leadoff batter ever, will next try for the USSSA Military Worlds tournament title mid-month at Panama City, Fla.
What of the gauntlet I tossed his way last month about possibly seeing how well the Bombers would do in the Pacificwide Tournament next Memorial Day weekend at Yongsan Garrison in South Korea?
"If we can get the sponsorship, I would love to bring the team to Korea," he said.
Congratulations to Camp Casey's women's softball team. Champions of the Firecracker Shootout last month at Okinawa's Camp Foster, the Warriors for the second time in three years shined brightly on Korea's biggest post-level Traveling League stage.
The Warriors, the league's regular-season champion, with four of their players headed to All-Army camp later this month, needed one finals victory in the double-elimination tournament to oust Daegu/Area IV, but it was a close call, 7-5 in Sunday's title game at Yongsan Garrison's Lombardo Field FourPlex.
Osan Air Base's men likewise needed one game to capture the crown, grounding Kunsan Air Base 16-11 in an all-Air Force championship contest.
Perhaps most shocking was Yongsan, the regular-season champion, exiting the tournament in just two games. One might have to consult with Stone-Age tablets to find out when was the last time that happened to Yongsan.
Next up are the Kanto Kup at Yokota Air Base, Japan, and the soon-to-be-revived Typhoon Classic at Okinawa's Torii Station over Labour Day weekend. The season will conclude with the Kadena Klassic on Okinawa over Columbus Day weekend.
March 8: Dave Ornauer reviews the start of the high school spring sports season and Sunday's Tomodachi Bowl. For now, word is that Far East spring sports tournaments are still a go despite sequestration.