One thing any senior student-athlete wants to do is make their career exit a memorable one. That held very much true for American School In Japan senior quarterback Hayden Jardine and Seoul American senior cross-country runner Amanda Henderson.
Jardine capped his remarkable career as No. 5 in Mustangs black and gold, going 79-for-163 for 1,192 yards with 12 touchdowns and 187 yards and seven TDs on 31 attempts as ASIJ shared the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools title, going 7-1 in league and 9-2 overall. He and Cristian Rivera of Kubasaki were widely viewed as the top quarterbacks in the Pacific.
Henderson finished off a stellar running career in Falcons Navy blue and white by going undefeated for a second straight season, going 20-0, winning her second straight Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference title and her second consecutive Far East Cross-Country Meet individual gold medal. She also ran the Pacific’s top time this season, 19 minutes, 32 seconds in the KAIAC title meet.
SportsBlog Nation is proud to present them as Stars and Stripes’ Pacific high school Student-Athletes of the Quarter, honors which Stripes has bestowed since the spring of 1987.
ASIJ football enjoyed a 19-6 league record and 23-7 overall mark, its best three-year run in school history, and at least a share of two Kanto titles with Jardine in the shotgun or under center. ASIJ was the only team to beat first-time Far East Division I champion Yokota, with whom the Mustangs shared the Kanto crown, this season.
In his three years as Mustangs starter, Jardine was 178-for-355 for 3,497 yards, an average of 9.9 yards per attempt, and 42 touchdowns against 25 interceptions. He also rushed 65 times for 353 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Henderson became the most decorated girls cross-country runner in Seoul American’s history. After transferring from Kubasaki for her sophomore year, Henderson did not lose a race in her last two years in Falcons uniform, going a perfect 40-0 in that span.
The rest of the Stars and Stripes’ Pacific high school fall sports season awards:
Coach of the Quarter/Most Improved Team: After spending years in Kadena’s shadow, Coach Paul Campbell and the Kubasaki Dragons, led by island champions Erik Armes and Alli Robles, captured their first Far East overall team title and the Okinawa Activities Council team title for the first time since 2001. Also deserving of mention is Rydell Wilkins, who took a Seoul American football team that went 2-5 in 2010 to a 5-3 overall finish and advanced to the second round of the Far East Division I playoffs.
Team of the Quarter/Volleyball Player of the Quarter: ASIJ volleyball, after finishing second in the Kanto Plain, bulldozed its way to its third Far East Division I Tournament title in six years, led by sophomore Liz Thornton, who became the third player in her family to earn the tournament’s MVP award. She averaged 15.7 spike kills and 4.5 block points as the Mustangs roared through the tournament dropping just one set en route to the title.
Program of the Quarter: Besides football and volleyball, the Mustangs won the overall title in the Asia-Pacific Invitational cross-country meet on Guam and the overall team and boys team titles in the Kanto Plain tennis regular season and tournament. Nice way to greet new athletics director Brian Kelley.
Most Improved Program: Yokota, which won its first Far East Division I football title in school history, while the girls tennis team won its school-first Kanto Plain regular-season and tournament titles. Girls volleyball placed third in DODDS Japan, its best finish since 2004. Seoul American also deserves mention for football, placing third in the Far East Division I Girls Volleyball Tournament despite losing its top stars from 2010 and new coach Lori Rogers at the helm, taking second overall in Far East cross country with its rebuilt boys lineup and winning the Far East Tennis Tournament overall team title under first-year coach David R. Abbott.
Longevity Award: Nile C. Kinnick girls volleyball enjoyed its third straight top eight finish in the Far East D-I Tournament, but also improved to 76-2 with three straight Kanto Plain and DODDS Japan titles in the last three seasons.
Tennis Players of the Quarter: Despite the sport being out of season on Guam, sophomore Chloe Gadsden ensured the Far East Tournament girls singles title would remain in the family, joining her older sister Amber as a gold medalist. Other honorees are two-time KAIAC and Asia-Pacific Activities Conference champions Jeffrey and Jae-hyun Kim of Seoul Foreign and Kanto boys singles champion Kentaro Ishihara.
Cross-Country Runners of the Quarter: In addition to Henderson’s back-to-back perfect seasons and Armes winning Far East, there was Brandon Fell of St. John’s on Guam, who won the API boys meet with a Pacific-best 16 minutes, 16.12 seconds.
Football Players of the Quarter: How’s about five of them? The entire Yokota offensive front five get this honor, five juniors who plowed the road for running backs to pile up more than 3,500 rushing yards and 45 rushing touchdowns as the Panthers, in addition to the D-I title, won their 12th DODDS Japan title and a share of their 12th Kanto Plain title on coach Tim Pujol’s watch.
Best Newcomers: In addition to Armes, stellar newbies came in sister pairs in Japan. Tia and Natalie Burke helped transform Zama American’s girls tennis team into a title contender, while Ashley and Katie Rock brought power and fire to an E.J. King Cobras girls volleyball team not seen since the days of Anna Bickenbach and Maria Havens in the early 2000s.
And, finally, the Play of the Quarter: With Yokota leading by just eight points late in the first half of its D-I quarterfinal battle with Kadena, Pujol called for a halfback option throw by backup quarterback Demonte Butler to Donovan Ball for 33 yards to Kadena’s 1. That set up a touchdown run by Scott Hansen which gave Yokota a 21-6 lead at halftime. It proved to be the turning point of the contest, which Yokota won 42-6 to dethrone the two-time D-I champion Panthers.
Ornauer on AFN
Stars and Stripes reporter Dave Ornauer talks about the Pacific sports scene on AFN Radio. (Click on right arrow to play file.)
Feb. 20: Dave takes a look at the latest sports highlights in the Pacific region.
Feb. 13: Far East wrestling, basketball cap winter sports season.
Jan. 30: Matthew C. Perry's battle with Yokota in boys basketball highlights weekend action.