They’re hardly strangers to each other, having coached against each other in Europe in a game with Division II title implications.

Bill Schofield of Robert D. Edgren and Matthew C. Perry’s Frank Macias are it again Saturday half a world away, facing off with host rights to next month’s Far East D-II title possibly in the balance.

The two teams meet at 10 a.m. at Yokota High School – the second of two neutral-site games the teams play this season. Rather than fly one team or the other to Misawa Air Base or Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, DODDS buses them to neutral sites to cut down on travel cost.

“Right now, it doesn’t matter to us that we’re playing at Yokota,” Schofield said, noting that Edgren is the “home” team for this game “and we’re going to treat that to our advantage, based on that fact.”

While Macias and the Samurai coaching staff clearly know what’s at stake, for the players, “it’s their first time as a varsity team; there’s no frame of reference,” Macias said. “Get ready for this week. That’s our approach.”

The teams met on Sept. 13 at Camp Zama, where the Samurai prevailed 40-18 in their first game as a varsity team since 2003. Perry is unbeaten in DODDS Japan D-II while Edgren has that one loss and needs to win by 20 to stay alive, while Perry can punch its ticket with a win.

The last time Macias and Schofield met with that much on the line was Oct. 23, 2010, when Macias’ Mannheim team downed Schofield and Bamberg 51-20 in a Europe D-II quarterfinal. Mannheim went on to lose the final 33-7 to Bitburg. Mannheim and Bamberg are now closed.

Aside from the play of speedy backs Daniel Lovett and Shawn Robinson, who’ve combined for 1,105 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns, “our defensive line has stepped up; it’s improved a lot,” Schofield said.

“We keep learning and getting better. We just have to decrease our mistakes. If we can do that, we have a solid chance of beating Perry.”

The Samurai are coming off a big loss at American School In Japan, where they were “out-physicalled,” Macias said. “The kids are bouncing back. They feel good about putting 40 points on Edgren the first time. If we play our game, we’ll be the most physical team on the field.”

Nile C. Kinnick and Pacific rushing leader Dre Paylor visit ASIJ, the defending Kanto Plain champion, with the Red Devils seeking their first Kanto title in 16 years.

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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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