By STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 21, 2019
2018 season record — 6-2 overall. Lost 38-20 at Nile C. Kinnick for Far East Division I football title last Nov. 10.
Head coach — Sergio Mendoza, 14th season. 69-18 overall, eight Okinawa Athletics & Activities Council regular-season titles (2006-10, 2013, 2016-18), Pacific-record six D-I titles (2007, ’09-’10, ’14-’15, ’17).
Returning players — 10.
Returning starters — 6.
Key performers — Alfonso Mendez, Sr., RB; Trent Fowler, So., RB; Dean Owen, Sr., OL (four-year starter); Caleb Wise, Jr., OL-DL; Xavier Peace, So., RB; Jack Carey, Sr., QB (transferred from San Antonio).
Strengths — Speed and quickness, especially in the backfield, more than Mendoza says he’s seen in years. Some size. Carey landing in Panthers camp is a godsend for a team that lost its two quarterbacks from a season ago to graduation and transfer.
Drawbacks — Youth and inexperience. Graduated 18 seniors, including three-fifths of the starting offensive line and two running backs who accounted for 1,610 yards and 22 touchdowns rushing.
Overview — Rebuilding. Though graduations and transfers hit the Panthers’ lineup hard and the learning curve is high, Mendoza says the current crop has worked hard all summer, put in plenty of time in the weight room, hits aggressively in drills, listens, learns and has heart.