By STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 27, 2019
2018 season record — 1-7 overall.
Head coach — Tim Pujol, 21st season, overall record 143-44, 14 DODEA-Japan and Kanto titles, five Rising Sun Bowl championships, two Far East Division I titles.
Returning players — 9.
Returning starters — 6.
Key performers — Ethan Smith, Sr., RB-LB; Austin Fisher, Sr., OL-DL; Joey DeGrella, Sr., FB-LB; Connor Rowan, Jr., TE-DE; Steven Hakun, Sr., C; Chris Jones, Jr., QB; Caleb Jones, So., WR-DB-P-KR.
Strengths — Panthers have more physical size and numbers than they did a season ago, camaraderie, teamwork always present in the blue and gold; no longer worried about facing a Division I schedule.
Drawbacks — Lack of depth, lack of experience; won’t field a junior varsity team for the third straight year, something that never happened before 2017.
Overview — Rebuilding-reloading, but the learning curve is steep for a team that must play three games with Division II title-game implications from the jump. Panthers will play nine-man format games against Osan and Daegu in back-to-back weeks in October, but it might be academic by then.
Also — Rowan is the second of two sons and third of three offspring of former sumo yokozuna [grand champion] Akebono, birth name Chad Rowan, and his wife, the former Christine Kalina, Yokota Class of 1989. … For the first time since the 1989 season when American School In Japan played a non-varsity schedule after being shut down by injuries and illness for most of the 1988 season, the Mustangs will not play Yokota during this regular season.