Falcons look to pick up pieces after disastrous 2009 campaign
August 26, 2010
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — After years of dominating DODDS Korea football, Seoul American finds itself in a position it rarely sees in any sport – looking at the league from the basement up.
The Falcons won just twice last season, got hammered 44-0 in a Far East Division I championship rematch with Kadena … and then had its entire season record expunged when it was found the Falcons used an ineligible player.
That, and having to rebuild with plenty of inexperienced youngsters, doesn’t seem to bother new head coach Billy Ratcliff, however; in fact, he says he welcomes the challenge.
“I enjoy this situation. The way I look it, there’s nowhere to go but up,” said Ratcliff, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator in 2008 before taking last season off.
His roster comprises mostly freshmen and sophomores, with only a handful of seniors and just 11 returners, two of them starters.
“But I have a very moldable team,” Ratcliff said. “I like to have people who I can put into the type of system that I want, whatever that would be.”
With so many young players, Ratcliff is building out of the ashes of that 2009 campaign with an eye toward the future. He plans to transfer back to Europe, from whence he came, and wants a good team in the hands of whomever takes over after Ratcliff leaves.
“I’ve always been a believer in that I try to make the best of whatever I have, so no one else has to take over a bad situation,” he said. “If I’m not here next year, I want to leave the new coach with a better situation than I was left with.”
Ratcliff welcomes back skills-positions starters Adrian Thomas and Cory Robinson, transfers Luke Travis (Osan American) and Herald Martin (AFNORTH), and stateside transfers Chris Porter (Texas) and Ty White (Georgia).
“They’re very coachable, great attitude, great chemistry so far,” Ratcliff said, adding he’ll know more after Saturday’s season opener against Daegu American. “The bottom line is, you have to be ready for the big dance in November.”
He speaks of a Far East Division I playoff for which the Falcons automatically qualify, Seoul American won the 2006 and ’08 titles.
At the Division II level, Daegu American and Osan American are hoping to end a piece of their own inglorious Far East title-game history; Korea has gone winless against Japan every year since 2006.
Both the Warriors, last year’s runner-up in a 46-38 loss to Zama American, and the Cougars boast veteran talent, leadership, size and speed on all sides of the ball. But neither team is deep; a few injuries could upset the apple cart, coaches say.
Despite losing nearly all his skills-positions starters, Daegu coach Ken Walter feels his team is “better off than we were last year at this time. We worked hard last year to build our ‘next 11.’”
Senior Tre Griffin returns to trigger Daegu’s spread-option attack, with four core linemen back as well.
The Cougars welcome their fourth coach in four years, Aaron Mundy, from Santa Claus, Indiana, where he was an assistant at Heritage Hills High.
Osan, too, has good size and speed, both in the interior and skills positions. Seoul American transfers Brian and Brandon Morton will likely reprise their roles for the Falcons in the line and under center.
“Our potential is incredible,” Mundy said.