A nagging worry heading into the season for Kadena was replacing departed skills-positions players Jeff Morton and Manuel Duran (graduated) and Sean Shattuck (transferred back to Oklahoma).
Coach Sergio Mendoza and the Panthers may have found the answer in speedy senior tailback Ernest Carr.
Carr galloped for 194 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries and Kadena’s defense held Kubasaki to 111 yards and forced five Dragons turnovers in a 45-0 rout Friday in Game 1 of the Okinawa Activities Council’s best-of-three series at Kubasaki’s Mike Petty Stadium.
“His heart is as big as his legs,” Mendoza said of Carr, who rambled for touchdown runs of 3 yards in the second quarter and 1 and 69 yards in the fourth. “He has an uncanny ability to power or juke. He drives his legs hard. He drives and drives and drives.”
By spoiling homecoming for Kubasaki (0-2 overall), the Panthers (1-0) need only to win their own Friday homecoming game at Kadena’s McDonald Stadium to host Seoul American in the Far East Class AA semifinals on Nov. 3.
Meanwhile, Yokota (7-0) captured its ninth straight Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Japan Football League and Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools titles by outlasting tenacious Nile C. Kinnick 38-20 at Yokosuka Naval Base.
Kadena 45, Kubasaki 0CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – It was the most lopsided verdict since the OAC began the best-of-three playoffs in 2005 to determine the island’s representative in the Class AA playoffs.Kubasaki coach called the outcome a “comprehensive win for Kadena in all phases. We got outplayed and I got outcoached.”
Besides Carr’s touchdowns, Roosevelt Payne snagged a 69-yard TD pass from Jonathan Wright, who went 3-for-8 for 88 yards. Brandon Harris ran a reverse 10 yards for a score and Stanley Schrock booted a 37-yard field goal. All told, Kadena rang up 336 yards on 54 plays.
Schrock also paced an opportunistic defense with two interceptions, and nearly picked off two other passes. Shun Bowens added an interception, Josh Carpenter scored a sack and a fumble recovery on the same play and Vince Coronado ran back an interception 45-yards for a TD.
Schrock possesses “a great nose for the ball, knows where the ball is going to be, goes back and gets it,” Mendoza said.
Despite the one-sided outcome, Mendoza feels his team can execute better, and made some miscues on defense that could come back to haunt the Panthers later.
“That’s just one game,” Mendoza said. “It’s 0-0 for us. This is just getting started. It’s along journey.”
Emanuel Finney led the way with 47 yards on 17 carries for a Kubasaki team that managed to penetrate as far as Kadena’s 32-yard line with 7:22 left.
Yokota 38, Nile C. Kinnick 20YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – Anthony McNeill carried 25 times for 199 yards, including touchdown runs of 2, 23 and 29 yards, stringing his Pacific-leading season rushing total to 781 yards on 121 carries.
Tony Presnell added 76 yards on nine carries, running for touchdowns of 8 and 22 yards, and adding a first-quarter field goal. Rainey Daily and Josh Lehnerd each had eight tackles for Yokota.
McNeill’s 23-yard TD run came on the third play of the second half, after Presnell ran back the opening kickoff 48 yards into Kinnick territory. “That was a momentum builder for us,” coach Tim Pujol said.
That momentum was needed, Pujol said. In running its Pacific-record regular-season winning streak to 46 games, Yokota had its hands full with a Red Devils team that showed some creative looks to offset injuries to key players, including running back Tyree Hunt.
“They used a nice offensive sequence, a spread that was effective,” Pujol said of Kinnick, which used tight end Chad Atchley in the shotgun at quarterback and moved Shane Thrift from center to fullback.
Thrift responded with a team-leading 50 yards on nine carries and Atchley went 5-for-7 for 80 yards, including touchdown passes of 16 yards to T.J. Jones and 15 to Jon Bollinger. Bollinger was 5-for-11 for 33 yards, including a 14-yard TD pass to Dennis Ray.
Kinnick “did a creative job of using guys who were healthy,” Pujol said. “They always hit hard on defense. They gave us a game.”
“It was nip and tuck for three quarters. It was fun,” Kinnick coach Gary Wilson said. Jones recorded 10 tackles, Thrift eight and Donavan Brown seven for the Red Devils.