Duty commitments force shuffling of USFJ-AFL schedule
Military commitments faced by the league-leading Yokota Warriors forced a reshuffle of the remaining U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League regular-season schedule and a delayed start to the playoffs, league officials announced Tuesday.
Saturday’s scheduled game pitting the Warriors against the Misawa Marauders was pushed back to Aug. 13, commissioner Kyle Rhodus announced in an e-mail to league coaches. Misawa also had been due to host the five-time defending champion Yokosuka Seahawks on July 2. That was postponed due to a lack of referees and rescheduled for Aug. 6.
That pushes the playoffs back a week. The semifinals are scheduled for Aug. 20 and the Torii Bowl for Aug. 27.
“Those dates are firm and I do not see them changing for any reason other than typhoon,” Rhodus said in response to e-mail questions from Stars and Stripes. Rhodus, also Yokosuka’s athletic director, was conducting training sessions this week and was unavailable for further comment.
“This thing is almost beyond any further ‘tweaking’ so let’s do our best to make it happen,” Rhodus said in his e-mail to coaches.
The Yokota-Misawa game had to be postponed because “an unscheduled exercise at Yokota left them unavailable,” he said.
The league has been fortunate that only two games were postponed this season, Rhodus said. Since he assumed his post last season, those are the only games postponed or canceled due to work, weather or transportation. Previously, 30 games in four seasons faced such fates.
“Duty commitments have thrown a couple of wrenches our way, but most were ironed out before the season started,” Rhodus said, adding that two issues have been more of a concern this year:
¶ Misawa’s officials association’s contract with 35th Services Squadron expired the day before Yokosuka was to play the Marauders, leaving no referees available for the July 2 game.
¶ Yokota’s main football facility, Bonk Field, is under renovation. No other field was available for the Warriors, who had to move all their home games to Naval Air Facility Atsugi.