CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Defenses don’t come much more stingy than Kadena’s. What coach Sergio Mendoza would like to see is how well his defense performs with all its regulars in the lineup.
A.J. Sherman recorded two sacks and the Panthers forced four turnovers, Kadena’s defense held Nile C. Kinnick to minus-10 yards and Justin Sego and Maverick Giron each ran for two touchdowns as the Panthers walloped the Red Devils 42-0 Saturday at Kubasaki High School’s Mike Petty Stadium.
“I’m anxious to see us at 100-percent strength, just to see what we’re capable of doing,” Mendoza said. Five of his starters were missing for various reasons.
One would not have known it, watching the Panthers’ performance. Kadena only let the Red Devils cross midfield once, to the Panthers’ 25-yard line midway through the second quarter, in which Kadena scored five touchdowns. The entire second half was played with a running clock.
The win put Kadena (2-0) into the driver’s seat in the race for berths in the Far East Division I title game scheduled for Nov. 17.
The defensive dominance came a week after Kadena held Seoul American to 47 yards in a 35-0 win. “They are so coachable and they all love each other. It’s great to have that,” Mendoza said.
Sego got the Panthers on the board with a 38-yard zig-zag touchdown run. Justin Hermon promptly recovered a fumble and Giron ran in from 9 yards on the next play. Alex Rojas returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown on the next Kinnick possession.
Sherman’s sacks set up Kadena’s next score, a 55-yard pass to Joey Dyer. Josh Garrick recovered a fumble on Kinnick’s next play, and Sego scored from 9 yards out four plays later. Giron capped the scoring with a 1-yard second-half run.
Sego led all ballcarriers with 85 yards on 12 attempts. “For a sophomore running back, he runs much better every week,” Mendoza said. “It’s fun to watch him progress. He has a good work ethic and is disciplined.”
Dyer caught his third TD pass of the season despite playing sparingly on an injured foot. “He’s a player, a standout athlete,” Mendoza said.
Kinnick (2-1) had few answers except on special teams; Quinton Holden had 101 yards on six returns, but the leading ground gainer was Marcus Boatwright, with just 18 yards on 10 carries.
A visibly upset Red Devils coach Dan Joley would only say, “We beat ourselves” after the game.