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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Robert Stovall, who started coaching the Nile C. Kinnick High School football team in 1994 and won four straight Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools titles from 1995 to 1998, likely will be viewed as the Red Devils’ most successful coach.

But Stovall, who will leave Yokosuka Naval Base this summer for a new assignment at Rota High School in Spain, says he always put more stock in the life lessons team sports teach than titles, wins and losses.

After each of his 100 games, he’d gather his players in an end zone and ask them two questions:

“Are you proud of the way you played?”“Did you play as hard as you can?”“It’s the final answer if you can say yes to both questions,” said Stovall, 40, adding that he picked up the questions during his days of coaching junior high basketball in his native Edmond, Okla.

Kinnick’s football players have “said yes to both questions when we’ve lost and no sometimes when we win,” Stovall said.

The questions and wins and losses “go along with each other. As far as life lessons, the ‘yes’ and ‘yes’ are more important than winning and losing. … They’re applicable in any part of life, not just sports.”

Kinnick put its stamp on the 20th century’s last 10 years, starting with a Kanto title in 1990 under Jim Ferinden.

“It was a great run,” Stovall said. “We dominated the ’90s.”

The late-’90s glory years gave way to three straight sub-.500 seasons, until Richie Korth and the Lynce brothers, Brenden and Leonard, arrived in fall 2003 to lead Kinnick back into contention. The team has gone 13-5 the last two seasons, just missing in two contests against Yokota in 2004.

Tim Pujol, who in six seasons at Yokota has built his own championship legacy, said he knew who was king of the hill when he transferred to Yokota from Taegu American School in 1999.

“I quickly found out that Robert Stovall and the Kinnick Red Devils were the team to beat,” Pujol said.

“Robert inspires his team to perform at the highest level,” Pujol said. “Kinnick doesn’t always have the biggest players, but they’ve got two things that allow them to play big: heart and pride.” Team members play “with tremendous emotion. They never give up,” he said.

It’s that spiritthat Stovall’s designated successor, Bill Schofield, the team’s longtime junior varsity coach, said he hopes to carry on.

“There’s no replacing the legend,” Schofield said. “We hope the kids will learn to play the game and work to perfect it. But we can’t walk in (Stovall’s) shadow. We have to step into our own light.”

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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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