Dan Joley felt more upset with himself than anybody else on Sept. 8, when his Nile C. Kinnick football team got curbstomped 42-0 by Kadena at Okinawa’s Mike Petty Stadium.

“I had the wrong game plan for Kadena,” said Joley, whose Red Devils mixed in more passing and option plays than the basic zone-read run attack that made them successful the previous two weeks. “We went outside of our comfort zone against Kadena.”

Since then, Joley has ditched that plan and went back to what worked the first two weeks of the season. And given the way his team has played the last two weeks, Joley feels this weekend’s trip to Okinawa to visit Kubasaki on Saturday will yield a Red Devil of a different result. Kickoff time is 11 a.m.

“We’re confident. We’ve grown these last couple of weeks,” Joley said.

His team lost 49-20 on Sept. 28 at Yokota, but all 20 of those points came in the second half, the most the Red Devils have scored on the Panthers in several years. Then last Saturday, the Red Devils feted homecoming by blanking Seoul American 27-0.

But it’s more than just the numbers, Joley said. “They’re a solid group. They trust each other. It’s like they say, ‘I’m going to sell out on this play and I know my brother’s got my back.’”

The line has blocked much better the past few weeks, Joley said, freeing up space for running backs Quinton Holden and Marcus Boatwright and quarterback Dustin Wilson to carry the mail.

Kinnick was held to minus-10 yards vs. Kadena; against Seoul American, the Red Devils rushed for 341 yards on 55 attempts.

“We’ve run the ball with great success the last two weeks,” Joley said. “Our option is working. We’re pretty confident going into this game.”

A win for Kinnick throws the race for Division I title-game berths wide open; Kubasaki and Kadena would have one loss each, while Kinnick would be just behind at 2-2. But a Kubasaki victory would seal the Red Devils’ fate and put the Dragons in firm command in the chase for D-I host rights.

Elsewhere this weekend, the Guam Interscholastic Football League playoffs begin with three quarterfinal matchups, one on Friday and two Saturday. Guam High receives a bye and won’t play until Oct. 20 against the winner of Friday’s John F. Kennedy at Okkodo game.

Daegu visits Osan American on Friday, with the Warriors still alive in the race for the DODDS Korea title. Also Friday, Yokota visits Zama American, trying to clinch both the DODDS Japan and Kanto Plain titles.

On Saturday, Kadena makes its longest road trip of the season, visiting the Singapore American All-Star Falcons. Robert D. Edgren travels to American School In Japan, its tune-up before the big Division II showdown at Zama on Oct. 19.

Though Kubasaki beat Kadena 14-7 on Sept. 28, coach Fred Bales is hardly taking victory for granted when it comes to the Red Devils.

“I learned a long time ago that a team at the beginning of the season, the middle of the season and the end of the season is not necessarily the same team,” Bales said. “We expect a fine opponent and a tough and well-played ball game.”

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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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