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Naples upends Aviano, but still has more work to do

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 20, 2018

The Naples Wildcats beat Aviano 41-36 on Saturday, handing the Saints their first loss of the season.

Aviano is going to be playing in the European championship game, though, while the victorious Wildcats - now tied with the Saints at 4-1 - are at risk of missing the postseason altogether.

As odd as that situation sounds, that’s the reality of the race for a spot in the 2018 DODEA-Europe Division II football championship game.

Aviano’s regular season is over with a single loss. The only team capable of matching that is Naples, so the Saints are officially in.

Naples, despite its win over the Saints, has more work to do next week. The Wildcats can complete their own one-loss regular season and punch their own title-game ticket with a win next weekend over struggling International School of Brussels. But a loss to ISB puts the Wildcats at risk.

Should Naples lose at ISB and finish with two losses, it’s vulnerable to fall into a tie with Rota and/or Vicenza. Rota handled defending champion Spangdahlem 13-0 on Saturday, while Vicenza routed SHAPE 44-16. Both teams are home-field favorites in their regular-season finales next weekend as Vicenza hosts Spangdahlem and Rota hosts SHAPE, though those results will be moot if Naples handles its business at ISB.

Naples had the look of a potential champion Saturday as it pushed ahead in the third quarter to break a halftime deadlock and held off a fourth-quarter Saints rally.

Ashton Jeanty did the bulk of the damage for the Wildcats, rushing 17 times for 339 yards and four touchdowns. Defensively, Kyle Burleson made 12 tackles, Marcus Arriola returned an interception for a touchdown and Christian Albright made a pair of interceptions.

Wes Penta rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Admirals to their victory over Spangdahlem, a rematch of the Sentinels’ 36-19 win in last year’s European championship game.

This year’s Division II schedule doesn’t include a semifinal round. The top two finishers in the regular season will advance straight to the European championship game Nov. 3 at Kaiserslautern.

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