Kinnick's fate will hinge on improving line
Fifth in a series of high school football previews.
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – There’s no shortage of solid, experience skill-position players in Nile C. Kinnick football team’s lineup. The $50 million question, however, looms in the trenches, where the Red Devils sport plenty of size, but much youth and inexperience.“The line's a work in progress,” second-year Devils coach Dan Joley said Thursday, a day before Friday's DODDS Japan and Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools season opener at defending Far East Division II runner-up Zama American.It may take some time, Joley said, and the Devils may take a lump or two early. But he does see the potential for special things to happen once the team’s engines – a veer-option offense and 4-3 defense – turn smoothly.“I’m excited about the kids we have,” Joley said.Quarterback Quinton Holden, who took over under center late last season, is “smart, fast and confident,” Joley said. Returning All-Kanto running back Dustin Kimbrell “may be one of the top five athletes out there.”It took about half of last season before Kimbrell and the rest of the Devils caught onto the veer option.“Once he (Kimbrell) saw what we were doing … he was dynamite and it clicked for everyone,” Joley said. “We worked on it during spring football, and worked on it all summer, so when two-a-days began (on Aug. 8), they already knew the offense.”Many of the same skill players on offense will line up at safety, cornerback and linebacker on defense.And Kinnick has a true kicking game – senior Marcus Boehler, who for three years ran cross country for the Red Devils, has taken his soccer skills to the punting and placekicking game, and is also a fleet receiver and “hard-hitting” defensive back.“It’s the interior that worries me,” Joley said.The one silver lining, he said, is that many of the linemen come from a junior varsity team that went unbeaten in 2010. Joley said he was “excited” about their potential to grow into what he hopes becomes a “winning tradition” at Yokosuka.Kinnick hasn’t won a Kanto Plain title since 1998, and has never won a DODDS Japan nor a Far East Division I championship.The Red Devils play their two games against its Japan Division I opposition, Yokota, in September to determine the top two D-I teams.The second-place team hosts Seoul American in a Far East play-in game on Oct. 3; the winner plays in a semifinal at Okinawa’s top Division I team on Oct. 29. Japan’s top D-I team hosts the Oct.3 Guam High-Okinawa No. 2 winner in the other semifinal on Oct. 29, with the semifinal winners to play Nov. email@example.com