Daegu eyeing a three-peat on gridiron
Stars and Stripes August 31, 2011
Tenth in a series of high school football previews.
CAMP WALKER, South Korea – Time was when a football team from a tiny school like Daegu American could sneak up on its bigger brethren such as Seoul American and pull a stunner of an upset.Not any more. Championships are becoming a rite of passage, and fifth-year coach Ken Walter and the Warriors would love nothing more than to christen their spanking new campus on Camp Walker with a third straight DODDS Korea title and second Far East Division II title in a row.“Championships are expected here. That’s the way we feel about it,” Walter said. “I don’t think we’ll surprise anybody any more. They know who we are and they know we come to play and we know they’ll all be gunning for us.”Opponents will face a Daegu team that must replace the talents of four-year starting quarterback Tre Griffin and lineman-turned-running back Jarel “Tank” Connie, who led the Warriors to a 5-2 record and a 28-2 win at Zama American in the D-II title game.Darius Wyche, the Warriors’ little big man at 5-foot-9, 163 pounds, will start under center; he rushed for a touchdown, had an interception, a fumble recovery, six tackles and three passes defended in the D-II title victory.“He’s probably the best athlete we have on the team,” Walter said. “He doesn’t have (Griffin’s) arm strength, but he makes up for it in athleticism. He’s played every skills position the last three years; he knows it better than anybody.”As for Connie, few can replace his 220-pound frame and deceptive quickness, Walter said. “It was nice to have a 220-pound running back running downhill,” he said.Folks such as Ronald McLean and Romar Banzon, each at 190 pounds, will try to fill those shoes. “Not quite the pop, but we have speed and good size,” Walter said.This may be Daegu’s “worst year for transfers” since Walter began coaching, “but we had a lot of eighth-graders in the gym last year who are moving up.”Daegu’s run at title repeats starts with Kubasaki of Okinawa at the Warriors’ home Kelly Field at 7 p.m. Saturday.The two games that count toward hosting the D-II title game Nov. 5 come against Osan American, on Sept. 30 at Kelly Field and at Osan’s Cougars Field on Oct. 14. The team with the better record hosts either Zama or Robert D. Edgren.firstname.lastname@example.org