CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Playing big on both sides of the ball, Kadena won its fifth straight Far East High School Division I football semifinal game Saturday.
Shariff Coleman and Thomas McDonald each ran for two touchdowns and Moises Charles converted two fumble recoveries into scores as the Panthers routed Seoul American for the second time this season, 54-0, at Kubasaki High School’s Mike Petty Stadium.
After a slow start, partly due to a three-week layoff in the schedule last month, “we made some big plays defensively, our offensive tempo was good, the line was blocking, everything was clicking,” Panthers coach Sergio Mendoza said.
The Panthers opened the season by pounding the Falcons, 57-0, on Sept. 3 at Kadena’s Ryukyu Middle School. Aside from the sluggish beginning, Saturday’s game ended pretty much the same way.
Coleman returned a punt 70 yards for Kadena’s first score and finished with 156 yards on 15 carries. McDonald added 55 yards on five attempts. Quarterback Lotty Smith had just one carry, but it was a 25-yarder that kept a drive alive; he went 1-for-1 passing for 3 yards.
Kadena’s running back of the future, Dedrick Lee, a freshman, added 31 yards on five attempts and a touchdown. Brothers Gabriel and Aaron Ahner combined for 10 solo tackles and 7 assists; Gabe Ahner picked off a Seoul American pass.
After playing strongly in the first quarter, “the kids got frustrated and sloppy and you can’t win that way against Kadena,” said coach Billy Ratcliff, whose Falcons lost starting quarterback Harold Martin to an ankle injury early.
“That’s the way it goes. They whipped us. They were the better team,” Ratcliff said.
Seoul American plays Kubasaki in Thursday’s third-place game; kickoff is at 2 p.m. The Dragons lost 26-8 to Yokota in Saturday’s second semifinal. Kadena takes on Yokota at 2 p.m. Friday for the Far East Division I championship.