(Stars and Stripes)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – One thing both Kubasaki and Nile C. Kinnick’s football teams have gotten used to doing is playing against each other in rotten weather conditions.

That happened again Friday, with the Dragons claiming their third straight win over the Red Devils in as many tries, this time in the Japan Division I semifinal.

Quarterback A.J. Millette scored on a 1-yard second-quarter sneak for the game’s only touchdown in Kubasaki’s 6-0 triumph at Mike Petty Stadium, propelling the Dragons into next Friday’s Japan D-I title game at Kadena.

“They brought the weather and a very strong team with them,” Dragons coach Tony Alvarado said about Kinnick. The teams played just the week before at Yokosuka Naval Base in sideways rain and bone-chilling wind, with Kubasaki winning 16-8.

This time, “We had the rain and the wind but it wasn’t cold,” Alvarado said. “It was a very hard-fought game down in the trenches.”

“It was brutal,” Kinnick coach Dan Joley said of the conditions. “The last four games we’ve played have been in torrential rain.”

This time around, the Red Devils committed far fewer miscues than in previous contests, Joley said.

“The young guys, our underclassmen, the entire defense was fantastic,” Joley said. “And we won the turnover battle and put ourselves in position to win.”

That came in the fourth quarter, when the Red Devils pushed deep into Kubasaki territory, first and goal at the 4-yard line. But a couple of penalties pushed Kinnick back and the Dragons defense rose up to stop the drive.

“It was a nail-biter to the end,” Alvarado said. “It was scary. They were right there. They had their chances.”

Millette accounted for 56 yards of total offense for Kubasaki. Gavin McKnight ran eight times for 73 yards and Aiden Sablan added 51 yards on 11 attempts. Justin Podzon blocked a punt and recovered a fumble and Hayden Potter also recovered a fumble.

The loss dropped the Red Devils to 1-6 overall and 0-5 against D-I opponents, while the Dragons improved to 5-1. They face Kadena, with whom Kubasaki split the season series, next Friday at 6 p.m.

“It will come down to who can score and whose defense can hold off the other team,” Alvarado said. “I figure it’s going to be a hard-fought, low-scoring 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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