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First in a series of glimpses at high school football camps around Europe.

Only one rung remains on the ladder the Rota Admirals have been climbing for the past few years: a Division II European championship.

The Admirals buried the memories of a winless 2013 season with a solid 3-2 record in 2014. A strong showing in a quarterfinal loss to Naples that October confirmed that Rota was a program on the rise.

And how quickly it rose. The Admirals blitzed DODEA-Europe in 2015, beating old-guard powers Naples, SHAPE and Bitburg in the regular season, trouncing another stalwart squad, Hohenfels, in the semifinals and giving defending champion Ansbach all it could handle in a 32-27 title-game loss.

Momentum is certainly on the side of the Admirals as they enter 2016 a favorite to return to, and very possibly win, the Division II championship game. But Rota has a lot of other factors in its favor as well.

The Admirals field a 24-man roster, a healthy number by the standards of DODEA-Europe Division II. Among the two dozen are nine returning players, including seven returning starters.

Seniors Jashaun Garrison and Jake Anderson headline the incumbents. Both will be frequent targets for quarterback Sam Gallardo in Rota’s spread offense while also serving as linchpins of the Admirals’ opportunistic defensive unit.

While loaded at the skill positions, Rota also has the requisite heft at the line of scrimmage to make its game-changing highlights possible.

Finally, the Admirals are helmed by Ken Walter, a coach who won championships in DODEA-Pacific and immediately brought Rota to the brink of one.

The only thing left is to take that last remaining step.

Stripes in 7

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