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In terms of experience, most of Osan American’s and Daegu American’s football players are as green as freshly mowed grass on a summer’s day.

Most of the players that propelled Osan to the 2005 and ’06 Far East Class A title games have departed. Daegu bid farewell to most of the key components that boosted the Warriors to last fall’s Class A final (a 27-6 loss to Robert D. Edgren). Even the teams’ coaching staffs are largely new.

Yet the two teams that will take to Cougars Field at 6 p.m. Friday in the first step toward a berth in the Nov. 1 championship game are as different as night and day, coaches say.

"Osan has size. Daegu has speed," said Seoul American coach Julian Harden, whose team defeated both squads by a combined 47-0 in the first two weeks of the season. Daegu coach Ken Walter lost 17 starters, and he has replaced them with speed merchants such as sophomore wideout Juwan Bullard, senior defensive back Larry Dixon and promising sophomore quarterback Trey Griffin, who saw some action in last year’s title game.

"They have a good passing attack," Osan first-year coach Duke Allen said of Daegu’s spread offense. "They have a good quarterback and speed on defense, a strong, aggressive defense."

To beat Daegu, Allen’s Cougars "need to play mistake-free football. Defense is one of our strong points. We need to get our offense online against a fast, aggressive defense."

The Cougars bring big, beefy guys to the table, such as senior Jesse Crockett and juniors Mike Gilliam and Travis Neher in the interior. Will Rapoza, the lone 2005 title holdover, was sidelined by a knee injury last season and is seeing limited action on defense.

Walter said he was impressed by Osan’s sophomore quarterback Rashad Bell, who Harden said can throw the ball 50 yards in the air. "And they have size. It looks like they’re a pretty strong, physical team," Walter said.

To overcome that size, Walter said his Warriors must "execute and be quick. Precision and execution on offense, attacking aggressive defense. We have to play in their backfield on defense. On offense, we have to fire off the ball at the same time and everybody hit their spots."

Harden says he’ll take speed over size, which he feels should give Daegu the edge.

"Big guys tend to run out of gas," Harden said. "Endurance is a factor. Osan’s guys would get tired in the end and the Daegu’s guys can take advantage of that. But there’s not a whole lot of difference."

The teams face one another again Oct. 3 at Camp Walker’s Kelly Field in Daegu, and again Oct. 24 or Oct. 25 at Osan, if needed to determined the Class A championship game berth.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.
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