Typhoon Sanba forces DODDS Pacific football postponements
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Bad weather has wreaked havoc on the DODDS Pacific football schedule for the second time in three weeks. With Typhoon Sanba forecast to swing just west of Okinawa on Sunday, DODDS Pacific officials decided Friday to postpone games pitting Yokota at Kubasaki and Kadena at Daegu.
Citing safety and academic concerns, DODDS officials put on hold at least until next month the rematch of last year’s D-I title game, which Yokota won 34-6 over Kubasaki on its home field. Only this season, thanks to the new “everybody-plays-everybody” format in which all D-I teams face each other at least once, the decision now has DODDS officials looking for a suitable makeup date.
“We do not know at the moment” when either game may be rescheduled, DODDS Pacific Far East athletics coordinator Don Hobbs said. A decision is expected “sometime next week” after Hobbs confers with the 12 DODDS Pacific athletics directors via video conference on Friday.
While the games were scheduled for Saturday, Kadena and Yokota were scheduled to return to their respective homes on Sunday, flying into and out of Naha International Airport when the weather is forecast to be at its peak and many flights are expected to be canceled.
“Our top priorities are safety and academics and the projected weather presents too many risks to our coaches and student athletes,” DODDS Pacific spokesman Charly Hoff said.
Typhoon Sanba is forecast to rumble 53 miles west of Okinawa at 10 a.m. Sunday, and forecasts call for Okinawa to experience 127-mph sustained winds and 144-mph gusts just past noon on Sunday.
Any flight cancellations would mean the traveling teams might be stranded for a day or more, missing class time as a result. DODDS Pacific policy mandates that student-athletes miss as little school as possible for traveling DODDS-sponsored athletics events.
The task of finding a makeup date for the Yokota-Kubasaki game might be formidable: According to DODDS Pacific’s football schedule, the teams don’t have a coinciding bye week the rest of the season.
Nov. 10, the week prior to the D-I championship game, is an open date, with neither team scheduled to play. But DODDS officials said they were leaning toward early October as a possible makeup scenario.
Coaches and players for the most part came to terms with the decision quickly.
“The weather is above all of our pay grades,” Kubasaki coach Fred Bales said. “We appreciate the efforts of those trying to reschedule the game. It is what it is.”
“We knew there was a chance of this happening, but we’re still disappointed; we were looking forward to it,” Yokota coach Tim Pujol said.
While Kadena’s game with Daegu doesn’t count for playoff berths, it is the second game the Panthers have lost to a typhoon this season; their opener Aug. 24 against Osan American got wiped out by Typhoon Bolaven. And Kadena has bye weeks on Sept. 22, Oct. 6 and Oct. 20.
“You get ready for a game, you drill and drill and drill, it’s frustrating,” Panthers coach Sergio Mendoza said. “I feel for the boys. It’s tough for them.”