Far East H.S. football playoffs a trip into the unknown for six teams
Participants in the first Far East high school football playoffs enter Saturday’s games with a great deal of apprehension because the six teams don’t know a thing about their opponents.
They haven’t seen their opponents play, not even on videotape. The information-gathering process has come in a trickle of e-mails, phone calls or word of mouth.
“This is uncharted territory,” said Robert D. Edgren coach Jim Burgeson, whose team plays at Osan American in the Class A championship game. “You feel much better as a coach when you can prepare, find some tendencies and weaknesses and attack those.”
The other playoff teams — Yokota, Seoul American, Kubasaki and Guam High — are singing the same tune.
“You can’t change what you do,” said seventh-year Yokota coach Tim Pujol. “You have to rely on your team’s experience and your coaches’ ability to adjust.”
Said Kubasaki coach Fred Bales: “When the ball is snapped, you diagnose, move to the ball, play as best you can and adjust on the fly.”
Burgeson compares the situation to his first season as Edgren’s coach. “I had no clue what anybody ran, what defenses, what offenses. It’s not a lot of fun,” he said.
Burgeson agreed with Pujol about the best way to handle an unknown foe.
“You don’t throw in a bunch of new wrinkles,” Burgeson said. “Defensively, we don’t know what they’re going to run, so we go through formations: Here’s what to do if they run a triple-receiver set, here’s what to do if they run a two tight-end set.”
In an unusual circumstance, Osan American coach Tony Alvarado will have one of his former players, fullback David Leh, on the opposite sideline Saturday. Leh now wears Edgren’s green and gold.
“He knows my audibles, my words, my key terminology,” Alvarado said of Leh.
Powerhouses Yokota and Seoul American carry championship legacies and lengthy winning streaks into their showdown in South Korea. The Panthers have won seven straight JFL titles and have a 36-game winning streak. The Falcons, four-time DODDS-Korea champions, have won 24 straight.
“There’s a history, tradition and confidence that comes with carrying that torch,” Pujol said. “But … none of those wins have included games against each other.”
Falcons coach Julian Harden calls Yokota “our sister team in Japan. … Maintaining that winning tradition isn’t easy because of a tendency to get complacent. They haven’t had anybody push them, like we haven’t. A coach has to remind them that winning doesn’t come without sacrifice.”
Guam High, which hosts Kubasaki on Saturday afternoon, has not played since the island playoffs Oct. 8.
“It’s tough to stay fired up after three weeks,” coach Tom Hildreth said. “We didn’t have good practices at first but the last couple of weeks, we’ve really come back together. … We’re pretty confident.”
Kubasaki is coping with the loss of injured senior Stephen Thompson and is still “looking for consistency on offense that you have to have, especially in playoff football. … Our defense kept us in it the last two games and won the last one in the end.”
Class A championship matchups
Robert D. Edgren Eagles
Record: 2-6 overall, 2-4 Japan Football League.
Head coach: Jim Burgeson, third season, overall record 4-19.
Base offense: Multiple pro, I.
Base defense: 4-4.
Key players: David Leh, Jr., FB-MLB (transfer from Osan American), averaged 72 yards on 12 carries in seven games; Darren Hall, So., TE-OLB; Josh Ray, So., QB; Patrick Pezoulas, Sr., K; Victor Lee, Jr., RB-WR-FS; Jacob Mullinax, Sr., L.
Scouting report (from Yokota coach Tim Pujol): “They have a balanced attack, a strong inside running game and off of that, some play-action passes. Their execution is sharp. We had to limit what they can do with their inside game and try our best to keep a close eye on their tight end (Hall), who’s a dangerous receiving threat. Their offensive line does a great job of executing and protecting their quarterback. You have to make sure your defensive guys are handling their responsibilities.”
Osan American Cougars
Record: 2-2 DODDS-Korea Football League.
Head coach: Tony Alvarado, third season, overall record 6-6.
Base offense: Multiple pro, I.
Base defense: 4-3, 4-4.
Key players: Will Raposa, Fr., RB-C, rushed 45 times for 400 yards and four TDs in two games against fellow Class A team Taegu American; Carlos Albaladejo, Jr., QB-RB-K; Levi Ames, Sr., OL; Matt Stokes, Sr., LB-FB; Shawn Shoults, Sr., QB; Chung Yim, Jr., TE-DE; Donny Keshel, So., DT-OL; Jonathan Shoults, So., DT-OL; Tae Benson, Fr., WR-C.
Scouting report (from Seoul American coach Julian Harden): “They keep coming at you. Once you get a lead on them, you can’t relax. They do add a little spice to the game, which keeps the defense honest and the coaches guessing. They have consistency in the running game. You have to force them to put the ball in the air. On offense, you have to run outside on them and hope to get your distance there. They play tough inside. We were forced outside. When you pass, you have to throw outside and in the flat.”
Far East football playoffs
Saturday, Nov. 5
Yokota at Seoul American, 2 p.m.
Kubasaki vs. Guam High at Guam Naval Station, 3 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 12
Saturday, Nov. 5
Robert D. Edgren at Osan American, 2 p.m.
Dave Ornauer's Top Ten, Week 10 outlook and weekly honors
The Top Ten teams in the Stars and Stripes’ high school football ratings, with records through Oct. 22, points and week’s rating, as compiled by Dave Ornauer of Stars and Stripes sports. Ratings are based primarily on teams’ records, quality of wins, strength of roster, point differential, statistics, strength of schedule and strength of leagues. Maximum rating is 500 points:
Record Pts Pvs
1. Yokota (Japan) 7-0 468 1
2. Geo. Washington (Guam) 7-0 460 2
3. Seoul American 4-0 440 3
4. Kubasaki (Okinawa) 2-1 432 6
5. American School In Japan 5-1 424 4
6. Father Duenas (Guam) 5-2 416 7
7. Kadena (Okinawa) 1-2 404 5
8. Simon Sanchez (Guam) 3-4 376 9
9. Nile C. Kinnick (Japan) 4-4 372 8
10. John F. Kennedy (Guam) 4-3 364 10
Week 10 outlook
Far East Class A championship
Robert D. Edgren 16, Osan American 12
Far East Class AA semifinals
Yokota 24, Seoul American 12
Kubasaki 11, Guam High 8
Last week: 2-2, .500.
Season: 37-10, .787.
Week 9 grid honors
Yokota—Doug Bloom 221 total yards, 2 TDs. Anthony McNeill 123 rushing yards, TD, recovered two blocked punts for TDs, 1 punt block.
Nile C. Kinnick—Layrnzo Abernathy 154 rushing yards, TD.
Zama American—Ben Bishop 203 total yards, 2 TDs.
Kubasaki—David Motu game-winning TD run, fumble recovery. Michael Bennett 129 all-purpose yards.
Kadena—Manuel Duran 126 all-purpose yards, 2 TDs.
Osan American—Will Rapoza 191 rushing yards, 2 TDs.
Taegu American—Kory Grammer 132 total yards, 1 TD, Daniel Pressley 122 total yards. Jamison Walter 9 tackles. Sidney Washington 10 tackles. David Menges 7 tackles.