Kadena gains experience, win vs. Seoul American
Stars and Stripes
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea – It meant nothing in the race for Far East Division I title-game space, but for visiting Kadena and host Seoul American, Saturday’s contest carried immense value to each team, coaches Sergio Mendoza and Jim Davis said.
Justin Sego and Gage Bongo each rushed for two touchdowns, scoring once each in the second quarter that launched the Panthers to a 28-14 triumph over the Falcons at Seoul American’s Sims Field.
It’s the first time since the “everybody plays everybody” D-I format was implemented last season that two inter-area D-I teams will face each other twice in one season. Kadena also visits Seoul American on Sept. 28 in a game that will count toward D-I title-game berths.
Kadena was facing a pair of two-week holes in its September schedule, so Mendoza and the Panthers decided to self-fund a journey to Seoul to give themselves an extra game – and a chance to scout the Falcons and vice versa. Each team came out of the game 1-1.
“We’re happy for the opportunity to play a classy team like Seoul American,” Mendoza said. “We were looking at a long bye break. We’re young, we’re growing every week, we came out of it healthy, it was a good experience for us.”
“This was big for us,” Davis said. “This is just our second game, we’re so young, a lot of things on film that we’re going to see that we’ll need to work on.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Sego broke the ice with a 17-yard touchdown run, followed later by Bongo’s 14-yarder. It remained 14-0 through halftime, and the next two quarters were played evenly.
Bongo added a 5-yard TD burst in the third quarter. Davis went to his bag of tricks, using a Max Weekley halfback pass of 11 yards to Densier Carnes, then a 32-yard screen pass by Cameron Harris to John Stoll. Sego capped Kadena’s scoring by breaking off a 70-yard scoring run.
“We’re still working on our running game,” Mendoza said, adding that penalties hurt the Panthers. “We’re getting stronger, communicating better and smarter. There were some moments of growth that I’d been waiting for, some maturity.”
Penalties also hurt the Falcons, to the tune of 10 flags in the first half alone.
“They’re fast, they’re quick, their feet never stop moving,” Davis said of Kadena. “We put our offense in bad situations and gave Sergio some good scoring situations.”
Seoul American next hosts Nile C. Kinnick on Saturday; kickoff is at 2 p.m. Kadena visits Kubasaki on Friday; kickoff is at 6 p.m.