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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — His mother had passed away six days earlier in his hometown of Tucson, Ariz.

But rather than go home right away, Gabriel Alderette wanted to do something special on the football field to honor the deceased Gloria Albino Alderette – and helped lead his Kadena Dragons to the outright U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League regular-season title.

The 47-year-old defensive tackle “played like a monster” on Saturday, coach Jermaine Baker said, allowing his defensive teammates to return three interceptions for touchdowns as his Kadena Dragons mauled defending champion Kinser 51-0 at Kadena High School’s Panthers Field.

“This football game was dedicated in honor of my mother,” Alderette posted on his Facebook page on Saturday.

“His penetration in the backfield and drawing double- and triple-teams caused a lot of other guys to make plays. The whole team played for him today,” Baker said.

With the win, Kadena ended the USFJ-AFL regular season at 5-1 and will host Kinser (1-5) in the semifinals on Saturday at 10 a.m., at a site to be determined. Second-place Hansen (4-2) beat 2-4 Foster 21-14 in the final regular-season game; they face each other at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Alderette, a retired Marine gunnery sergeant in his second season with the Dragons, said he will miss the semifinal against Kinser to attend his mother’s memorial in Tucson, but plans to return for the title game on June 13, assuming Kadena gets past Kinser in the semifinals.

Defensively for the Dragons, L.J. Johnson returned two interceptions for touchdowns, recorded a sack and seven tackles for losses. Rel Tate added a sack and five tackles for losses and Brandon Fugate returned a pick-six and recorded two sacks.

Offensively, Sean Finnegan went 5-for-7 for 90 yards and three touchdowns, Ralphael Jones rushed for 63 yards and a score and Brandon Avery added a rushing touchdown and had 87 all-purpose yards.

Defense also came up big for the Wolf Pack, as Clinton Ranson intercepted a pass at the 5-yard line with the Bulldogs driving for a potential-game-tying touchdown. David Torza also picked off two passes for Haneen, and caught two passes for 21 yards and Terrance Gray recorded six tackles.

Ranson led Hansen’s ground attack with 58 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. Kevin Bowser scored the final Wolf Pack touchdown on a 10-yard reception from Jesse Swanson. Brian Marquez was perfect on three extra-point kicks.

In the losing cause for the Bulldogs against the Wolf Pack, Emil Grey had 148 receiving yards and a touchdown and Carl Williams 125 yards total offense and a touchdown.


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