Kadena carries momentum into title game
Stars and Stripes October 20, 2023
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – On a night when Kadena seniors took center stage, none sparkled more than Sadiq Haynes.
The cornerback-receiver intercepted two passes – returning one for a touchdown – and also caught a TD pass as the Panthers closed the regular season with their fifth straight win, downing Humphreys 29-14 Friday.
“He had a great night,” Panthers coach Sergio Mendoza said. “I’m so happy for him. This was a breakout game for him.”
It was a victorious senior night for the Panthers, who rested 10 starters and played mostly backups and junior varsity players, trying to keep healthy for next Saturday’s Division I final against Kubasaki.
Haynes’ 13-yard touchdown catch with 3 minutes, 37 seconds left in the first half tied the contest 7-7. His 59-yard pick-six came with 2:08 remaining in the third period, putting the Panthers ahead 22-7.
“I just had to step up, help my brothers out and be the best I can be,” Haynes said. He accounted for 128 all-purpose yards on six touches.
When he caught the interception, “I saw the ball and I just had to bust it,” Haynes said of seeing nothing between him and the goal line but turf. “And I heard my teammates yelling go-go-go, which made me run even faster.”
The game took just 2 hours and 15 minutes to play, as both the Panthers (5-1) and Blackhawks (1-5) kept to the ground for the most part.
D’Kylan Woods led the Panthers with 173 yards and a 3-yard touchdown run on 24 carries. Josiah Drummer added 51 yards on eight attempts, and James Kinney added a 4-yard TD run. Richard Gantz had a fumble recovery and Tre Shears a sack for Kadena.
The Panthers did lose four fumbles, and had 270 yards on offense, compared to 227 for the Blackhawks.
Luke Robinson rushed 24 times for 139 yards for Humphreys and Koah Meno added 46 yards on four carries, including a 24-yard touchdown run. Naveon Tucker caught a 20-yard touchdown pass to put the Blackhawks on the board first.
Despite the 1-5 record, coach Reggie Meno feels the future is bright for Humphreys. Though the Blackhawks lose nine seniors, much of the line is forecast to return, “so that looks good. But you never know,” Meno said.
The Kadena-Kubasaki championship game will be the third time the two teams have faced each other this season, each winning on the other’s home turf. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. Oct. 28.