2012 football preview
Despite turnover, Daegu seeks to threepeat
By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 22, 2012
CAMP WALKER, South Korea – Graduation and transfers tend to hit the Pacific’s smaller high school programs harder than others. In Daegu’s case, much harder this season than ever.
In addition to triple-threat star Darius Wyche, who led the Warriors to their second straight Far East Division II championship last November, six others graduated and two others unexpectedly transferred from a program noted for fielding just 15 to 20 players.
“That’s quite a loss. The PCS plane definitely went one way this summer,” sixth-year Warriors coach Ken Walter said. Speaking specifically of transfers Monnie Mitchell and Lee Wright, he said, “These are guys we brought up and brought out, and now they’re gone.”
Thus, a return to the mountaintop may be higher for a Daegu team that has been to four Far East Division II title games since 2007, winning the last two. But Walter says his Warriors will be fine in the end.
“We kind of grow our players here,” he said. “Every year in DODDS is a new year because of turnover. The mix of players always changes. We have a good system and the kids bought into it, offense and defense.”
In fact, despite the lack of a genuine star in Wyche and 2010 cornerstone Jarel “Tank” Connie, the Warriors may just possess “the best front 11 we’ve ever had,” Walter said, though there’s not a great deal of depth behind them.
Sophomore Caleb Page takes over under center for Wyche. Xavian Washburn remains a solid force at linebacker, and returning running back Roland McLean put on 30 pounds over the spring and summer. The only inbound transfer was sophomore lineman Rahmaan Abdul-Azeez.
“This is a blue-collar group,” Walter said. “They work hard. I trust every one of them.”
With the Division II title race expected to be wide open – only one team, Robert D. Edgren, has won three straight DODDS Far East football titles, from 2006-08 – Walter said he’s told his assistants that “if we can win this year, we have two or three more (titles) in us.”
“There a lot of parity out there. Injuries will be a factor. It’s whomever executes best,” Walter said. “We’re pretty confident. We expect to be hosting the title game. We feel we have the people to do it.”
Camp Walker, South Korea
2011 season record—2-5 overall, 79 points for, 98 points against. 1-3 DODDS Korea, 58 points for, 61 points against. Second in DODDS Korea. Won second straight Far East Division II championship game 7-3 vs. Zama American.
Head coach—Ken Walter, sixth season. 18-17 overall record, two DODDS Korea titles, two Far East Division II titles.
Base offense—Spread option.
Base defense—Multiple fronts.
Key returners—Xavian Washburn, Sr., LB; Jorge Algarin, Sr., TE; Caleb Gosserand, Sr., WR; Ronald McLean, Jr., RB; Patrick O’Malley, Jr., WR; Chris Walker, Jr., OL-DL.
Key newcomers—Steven Robinet, So., OL-DL; Rahmaan Abdul Azeez, So., OL-DE (transfer from Potomac High).
Strengths—As solid a front-line 11 as Walter has ever fielded.
Drawbacks—Behind those numbers, there isn’t much; an injury or two could devastate.
Overview—Contending, as long as everybody stays healthy; the expectation continues to be reaching the championship, Walter says.
Saturday, Aug. 25—vs. Seoul American, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 1—at Kubasaki, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 8—at Zama American, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 15—vs. Kadena, 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 21—vs. Osan American, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 29—vs. Robert D. Edgren, 6 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 12—at Osan American, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 19—at Seoul American, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 27—vs. Singapore All-Stars at Seoul American High School, time to be announced