Playoffs begin a bit earlier for some
Stars and Stripes October 12, 2023
URUMA, Okinawa – While Zama and Kadena have all but wrapped up berths in their respective DODEA-Pacific Far East football finals, the coaches of the teams chasing them say they’re playing this weekend with a sense of urgency.
Osan, which visits Yokota on Saturday, and Kubasaki, which travels to Korea for a Friday game at Humphreys, are facing what each of their head coaches call a “must-win situation.”
-- The Cougars (4-1) “have to win out,” coach Tyler Greve said of Saturday’s showdown with the Panthers, then their regular-season finale at home against the unbeaten Trojans. A loss to either and Osan is out of the running for a spot in the Division II final Oct. 27.
-- The Dragons (3-2) close out their regular season needing a win to stay alive for a berth in the Oct. 28 Division I title game. A Kubasaki win knocks out both the Blackhawks and Nile C. Kinnick. A loss? That throws the entire title picture wide open.
Thus, “it’s a must win for us,” Dragons coach Tony Alvarado said of Friday’s game, which kicks off at 6 p.m. “We don’t want to leave our fate in the hands of others.”
Likewise, coach Tyler Greve and the Cougars, whose game with the Panthers kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday, are “treating this like the playoffs. Win out and we’re No. 1. Lose and we’re out,” Greve said.
Both Alvarado and Greve are hoping two previous games can serve as reminders that there’s always somebody out there better. Greve points to the Cougars’ season-opening 45-6 loss at American School In Japan, while Alvarado cites Kubasaki’s 32-7 home loss last week to Kadena.
“We just have to put last week behind us,” Alvarado said. “We just have to finish strong, come out and play our game and stop making mistakes.”
While that game is ongoing, Kadena hosts Kinnick and can wrap up host rights to the D-I final with a victory. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. Friday.
Greve, meanwhile, says he feels Osan’s loss at ASIJ could be the best thing that ever happened to his team.
“Sometimes, you need a good spanking just to get better from it,” he said. “We talk about it (loss to ASIJ) often.”
As a result, the Cougars are trying to get the players to practice as they play, “put the process over the product,” Greve said.
“We’ve had two weeks to really work on everything,” Greve said of the Cougars, who have won four straight games and had last week off. “We’re still improving every day.”
Elsewhere, with Typhoon Bolaven gone and away from the island, Guam High will try to go 3-0 when it makes its first road trip, playing Saturday at George Washington; kickoff is at 7 p.m.
In northern Japan, Robert D. Edgren hosts Matthew C. Perry for a 6 p.m. Friday kickoff, with each team seeking its second victory.
Cross country, tennis and volleyball teams continue their final tune-ups for their respective Far East tournaments, with this being the final regular season weekend for most.