Daegu tests Kadena, but Panthers prevail
CAMP WALKER, South Korea — Kadena entered Saturday’s historic first regular-season football game with Daegu American bearing a “sense of entitlement unearned,” coach Sergio Mendoza said.
Though the host Warriors didn’t win the game, they did give the defending Far East Division I champion Panthers an awakening, he said. Daegu held Kadena’s explosive offense to 239 yards in a 22-6 interarea win over the Warriors at Kelly Field.
“I’m glad we played this game,” Mendoza said of a contest played in on-and-off rain. “They (Warriors) came out and played good football. They’re well-coached. They have good players. Daegu came out and played us hard. We have some maturity issues. I hope this helps us grow.”
Kadena’s Thomas McDonald ran 15 times for 149 yards, including a 93-yard touchdown run, giving him 293 yards and three TDs on 24 carries this season. Shariff Coleman added 63 yards on 15 tries before being ejected. He will not make the trip to Japan for next week’s interarea game at Zama American, Mendoza said.
Lotty Smith went 4-for-6 for 46 yards, including a 12-yard scoring pass to Aaron Ahner. The Panthers, who got on the board first with a first-quarter safety, were held to 193 yards on 53 carries, their lowest total in four years.
Other than a couple of big running plays, “our defense shut them down pretty good,” Daegu coach Ken Walter said. “We gave them a few short fields, and they hit a long home run, and that was it.”
Jarel “Tank” Connie got the Warriors on the board with a 1-yard touchdown run as time ran out. He had 25 yards on four carries. Tre Griffin was just 3-for-17 for a career-low 48 yards. Jacobi Myles added 20 yards on six carries.
The game was one of two played on Saturday pitting Okinawa Activities Council teams against DODDS Korea teams – the first season that’s happened in Pacific high school ball.
Kubasaki visits Seoul American on Saturday, then Osan American travels to Kadena and Daegu to Kubasaki on Sept. 25.
“I’m really grateful” for the opportunity, Mendoza said, adding that he and Walter talked prior to the game about how it’s “so nice to be playing a different team that we don’t normally see.”