P.J. Lorenzo is one of two sophomore running backs returning for Robert D. Edgren.

P.J. Lorenzo is one of two sophomore running backs returning for Robert D. Edgren. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Seventh in a series of preseason looks at DODEA-Pacific football programs.

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan – To say Robert D. Edgren’s football team has had its struggles over the past several seasons is something of an understatement.

Aside from losing the entire 2020 season to the coronavirus pandemic, the Eagles have gone 1-14 the last two seasons and were outscored by their foes 429-94. All that after almost not fielding a team in 2018.

New Eagles coach Aaron Wells says that he and his players feel that enough is enough.

“They’re (players) pretty hungry to change the (football) culture here at Edgren,” Wells said. “They’re pretty enthusiastic. You can only lose for so long before it becomes a systemic problem. They want to change that.”

The Eagles will take the field for their opener Sept. 1 on the road at Yokota with a team that has some key pieces, but overall is quite young. Of their 26 players, Edgren has but two seniors and mostly underclassmen.

“We’re a very young program,” Wells said.

A handful of experienced skill-positions players return, including sophomore running backs Hajime Reed and P.J. Lorenzo. Junior Danny Phillips returns at fullback and linebacker.

They’ll be strong in the interior. But the Eagles need to grow, quickly, if they’re to contend with traditional DODEA-Japan powerhouses Yokota and Zama in their first two games.

“We’re getting there,” Wells said, adding that it’s a matter of getting the younger players accustomed to the x’s and o’s of the game. “If we can figure out that stuff and play at a football pace, we’ll be OK.”

Robert D. Edgren Eagles

2022 season record — 1-6.

Head coach — Aaron Wells, first season (assisted Zama for one season; coached 10 seasons in Tennessee).

Returning players — 8.

Returning starters — all 8 at various times.

Key performers — Danny Phillips, Jr., FB-LB; Hajime Reed, So., RB-WR; Jayse Ulechong, Jr., QB; P.J. Lorenzo, So., RB-DB.

Strengths — Strong interior. Players’ ability to listen and adapt. Conditioning level is strong; good summer program.

Drawbacks — Young, inexperienced.

Overview — Rebuilding. Eagles have some key parts and they’re in good shape conditioning-wise. Just a question of settling in on the offense and defense and growing quickly.


Friday, Sept. 1

Edgren at Yokota

Friday, Sept. 8

Zama at Edgren

Friday, Sept. 15

Edgren at Osan

Saturday, Sept. 23

Daegu at Edgren

Friday, Sept. 29

Edgren at Zama

Friday, Oct. 6

American School In Japan at Edgren

Friday, Oct. 13

Matthew C. Perry at Edgren

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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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