Some new standouts, but same old Kadena in rout of Seoul American
By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 23, 2017
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – Seoul American was simply no match for the Okinawa heat on Saturday. Nor for a Kadena football team reeling not at all from the loss of seven starters due to a code-of-conduct violation a week earlier.
Brayden Frederick and Christian Tsirlis each scored twice and the host Panthers racked up 294 yards of offense in 17 minutes, 56 seconds as Kadena blanked Seoul American 28-0 at Ryukyu Middle School’s Habu Field. The Panthers improved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in Division I.
The game was called midway through the second quarter due to the Falcons’ suffering too many heat casualties. According to Seoul American coach Reggie Meno, six of his players were affected by the heat, more than one-quarter of his roster.
“The game was called off due to too many injuries, due to too much heat,” said head referee James Pickford, who announced the decision to call off the game in consultation with the coaches after Kadena scored its fourth and final touchdown 6:04 before halftime.
“They were trying. They really did. But the heat got them; the weather caught us completely off guard,” Meno said, adding that the Falcons players hydrated starting Friday evening into Saturday.
According to Kadena’s 18th Wing Weather Flight, temperature at the time the game was called off was 88 degrees with 70-percent humidity, creating a real-feel of 97 to 99 degrees.
Meno, who has been coaching and playing for more than two decades, said, “I can’t put myself or a win in front of my players. We still have more games to play this season.”
The condition of the players affected by the heat was not immediately known. The Falcons as a team were moved into the air-conditioned Ryukyu Middle School gym moments after the game was called off.
“You never want for a game to end that way,” Kadena coach Sergio Mendoza said. “You want more opportunities to hone what you have. I understood the decision. Seoul American has some good athletes. They’re coached well. They’ll rise again.”
It was Kadena’s first game since the announcement on Wednesday that seven starters were removed from the team due to a code-of-conduct violation that took place following the Panthers’ 67-26 win on Sept. 16 at defending D-I champion American School In Japan.
Despite that, Panthers senior quarterback Cody Sego said he and his teammates were “not concerned” about the players’ removal.
“No matter who we put in the lineup, they’ll do the job and they did,” Sego said. “I trusted my teammates to do what they had to do.”
Sego was an economic 2-for-5 passing for touchdowns of 25 and 15 yards to Tsirlis, a junior. Tsirlis also was involved in two Panthers sacks of Falcons quarterback Brent Carver. Sego had 85 yards on just three carries, accounting for 125 yards of offense.
Frederick, a sophomore starting in the backfield for the first time this season, had 86 yards on seven carries, including touchdowns of 33 and 3 yards. Owen Sinning, a senior also getting his first backfield start, had four rushes for 32 yards and had four returns for 93 yards.
Seoul American, 0-3 overall and 0-1 in D-I, was held to 20 yards of offense on 12 plays. The Falcons got as far as midfield on their fourth possession. Logan Howell had a fumble recovery and an interception for Seoul American.
Next for the Panthers is a critical Saturday showdown at Nile C. Kinnick, with the winner taking a major step toward hosting the Far East D-I title game the weekend of Oct. 27-28; kickoff is at 1 p.m. The Falcons next travel to ASIJ; kickoff is at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Seoul American's Logan Howell tries to drag down Kadena running back Joseph Warren as Falcons teammate Jonathan Gibson watches during Saturday's football game. The Panthers won 28-0 in a game called with 6:04 left in the first half due to too many Falcons players suffering from the heat.
MARY OBSUNA/SPECIAL TO STRIPES