Pacific H.S. roundup: ASIJ wins first Kanto title since 1983
CAMP ZAMA, Japan — A month ago, many of American School In Japan’s players were sidelined by the flu. Today, the Mustangs might be playing the best football in Japan.
Hayden Jardine went 11-for-19 for 175 yards and three touchdowns, his brother Tom caught six passes for 107 yards and two scores, and ASIJ forced five turnovers, converting three into TDs, in Friday’s 28-12 victory at Zama American.
The Mustangs improved to 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the league — both losses by forfeit due to the flu — and gave ASIJ its first outright Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools title since 1983. The teams shared the Kanto crown in 1994. Zama fell to 4-2 overall and 3-2 in the league.
“It feels pretty good,” coach John Seevers said. “It feels fabulous. The kids have been playing great ball. We’ve had great leadership from our seniors; they’re really special this year. Our offense is clicking. Everything’s going well.”
ASIJ, which went 0-7 in 2006, is the first team other than Yokota to win the Kanto since 1998. Doing so “sets a trend again for us, gets us going on the right track. We’re on an upswing,” Seevers said.
He and the Mustangs would like to have the two flu games back, he said. ASIJ pulled out of a Sept. 25 home game with Zama and an Oct. 3 game at Robert D. Edgren.
“It would have been nice to play Zama twice and Edgren twice. It wasn’t possible for us,” Seevers said.
Alex Busam ran for a 4-yard first-quarter score and later added a 22-yard TD on a pass from Hayden Jardine. Jamie Masman sacked Zama quarterback Mike Jorgenson twice and Tom Jardine, Riya Ridge and Alex Jackson recovered fumbles, and Chris Kleindl intercepted a pass.
“We’ve just got to hold the football. We just have to secure the football,” coach Steven Merrell said. “We didn’t control the line of scrimmage like we wanted to, either.”
After dominating opponents its first four games, Zama has been outscored 35-24 in its past two. “I don’t know exactly what it is. I don’t know if it’s X’s and O’s or we’re not coming off like we’re supposed to. It’s probably a little bit of both,” Merrell said.
Jorgenson rallied the Trojans to second-half TDs on passes of 5 and 10 yards to Matt Cole. He was 9-for-18 for 84 yards and Michael Spencer had 102 yards on 23 carries. Cory Peckins had a fumble recovery and an interception and Ryan Blackstock an interception.
Zama can still win its first DODEA Japan title with a victory at Nile C. Kinnick on Friday. “We want to win that game as much as we can. That’s our next game, so we have to clearly be focused on that,” Merrell said.
JapanYokota 26, Edgren 7: At Yokota Air Base, Gerald McCloud ran 20 times for 153 yards and a touchdown, and DeEric Harvin added 92 yards on eight carries plus a 40-yard fumble-return TD as the Panthers (6-3) righted the ship after a three-game skid, their longest in 11 seasons.
Gabe Huizar kicked field goals of 22 and 18 yards, Rainey Daley scored on a 1-yard run, and Wesly Cannonier and Ross Matsumoto intercepted passes with the Eagles (3-5) deep in Yokota territory. Ja’Maal Dennis scored Edgren’s only touchdown on a 15-yard second-quarter run.
The Panthers stayed alive for an 11th straight DODEA Japan title, but need Kinnick to beat Zama on Friday.
OkinawaKadena 47, Kubasaki 6: At Camp Foster, in torrential rainfall at Kubasaki’s Mike Petty Stadium, Shariff Coleman ran 12 times for 181 yards and two touchdowns, and Thomas McDonald added two TD runs and caught a 36-yard scoring pass from Stan Schrock for the Panthers.
Kadena (6-0) saw its shutout streak over the Dragons (1-6) end after 12 quarters, when Jalah Patton caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Mateo Sanchez. The Panthers had already locked up the best-of-five Okinawa Activities Council season series two weeks earlier.
Aaron Ahner added a 35-yard field goal and Anthony Arvizu returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown for Kadena.
Scott Rouch contributed to this report.