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Kadena running back Trent Fowler gets an escort around left end.
Kadena running back Trent Fowler gets an escort around left end. (Heather Mendoza/Special to Stripes)

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – Kadena’s football team hit its stride, coach Sergio Mendoza said, when the Panthers shut out Kubasaki 26-0 to make for a happy homecoming Friday.

Mendoza said he just wished there could have been more football to play in the first season back from the 2020 gap year when the season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s not Far East football like we would have wanted,” said Mendoza, closing out his 16th season at the Panthers’ helm. “But it was the best we could do for the boys.”

Javin Mariano ran for two touchdowns, his brother Jake scored a rushing TD and Anthony Skalamera scored on a quarterback sneak – and fractured his wrist on the play – while the Panthers defense stifled the Dragons’ offense en route to the first shutout of the four-game season series.

Kadena quarterback Anthony Skalamera dives into the end zone for a touchdown, on a play in which he fractured his wrist.
Kadena quarterback Anthony Skalamera dives into the end zone for a touchdown, on a play in which he fractured his wrist. (Heather Mendoza/Special to Stripes)

After Game 3 of the series in which Kadena beat Kubasaki 13-7, “we felt we were working hard, we were practicing hard, we felt like we were hitting our stride,” Mendoza said. “We were playing Panther football at this point.”

Dragons first-year coach Tony Alvarado said he was suitably impressed with the way the Panthers played Friday.

“Tonight, the other team played mistake-free football and executed on both sides of the ball,” Alvarado said. “Coach Mendoza did a great job getting them ready for their homecoming.”


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