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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Playing for pride, having lost its first five games before breaking into the win column a week ago, Kubasaki turned to some of its young players to close the season and got a sparkling performance by a freshman.

Samuel Gbatu ran 48 yards for a touchdown and returned an interception 62 yards for a score, helping the Dragons to season-high totals in rushing and points in a 61-12 romp over Yokota on Friday at Kubasaki’s Mike Petty Stadium.

“He’s very gifted,” coach Fred Bales said of Gbatu, the younger brother of former Dragons placekicker and soccer player Joshua Swen. Gbatu came out two weeks into the season, played a couple of JV games and was moved up to varsity a month ago.

All told, Gbatu had three interceptions. “He was all over everything they (Panthers) threw,” Bales said.

Unfortunately for the Dragons, Gbatu will transfer after this school year. “He’s an elite athlete, lighting fast,” Bales said. “He’s going to be something special. He’s going to be one to follow in the States.”

The Dragons (2-5) amassed 430 yards rushing and 42 yards passing against the Panthers.

Vincent Hill rushed 10 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns. Jaylan Penney had 92 yards and two scores on seven tries. Skyler Klimek had a short TD run and Keonte Caines raced 42 yards for a touchdown.

On defense, Jamie Byrd led the Dragons with eight tackles, Nick Cooper intercepted a pass and Clint Reventlow and Jacob Mahlstede each recovered fumbles.

Keith Rascoe, who quarterbacked the Dragons’ JV to wins in all but one of their games, replaced Klimek at the start of the fourth quarter and rushed five times for 38 yards. “He’s going to be special,” said Bales, adding that the chances are good that Rascoe stays through next season.

The Panthers (1-7) finished with their worst mark in 20 seasons. Ethan Smith rushed 10 yards for one touchdown and Kuta Sato 4 yards for another score, each in the second half.


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