USFJ-AFL's Seahawks to play in Sasebo City centennial game
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Three-time defending U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League champion Yokosuka has been invited to help Sasebo City celebrate its centennial on Saturday.
The Seahawks are facing a team of Japanese players from Kyushu and Kurume universities in a goodwill football game at 1 p.m. Saturday on Sasebo Naval Base’s Nimitz Field.
“It’s a humongous, fantastic honor,” said Kerry Harris, who served as Yokosuka’s head coach the past two years and offensive coordinator in 2000. The team has compiled a 29-3 record during its three-year championship run, which included a 24-game winning streak.
The Seahawks are expected to fly Friday to Nagasaki, about an hour’s drive from Sasebo on Japan’s southwest coast. They’ll attend a reception at Sasebo on Friday night, play the game Saturday and return Sunday.
Although the game has been planned for as long as two years as the Sasebo City centennial’s centerpiece, Harris said the team was notified only three months ago, just before the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk went on a deployment.
Harris, a lieutenant assigned to the Kitty Hawk, and the Seahawks returned from that excursion last month and have only had a couple of weeks to prepare for the game.
The Seahawks haven’t played since beating Misawa 16-6 for the 2002 title on Sept. 14, but Harris says he’ll have most of his starting lineup intact.
That includes quarterback Will Hall, who’ll be surrounded by veterans D.C. Preston, Aaron Stegall, Luke Raimo and the league’s Offensive Player of the Year, tailback Chris Bolden. Tackle Trey Fudge anchors the line.
Defensively, the Seahawks feature veterans A.J. Johnson on the line, Will Hutcheson at linebacker and DeAndra Jackson at cornerback.
“They realize it’s a golden opportunity,” Harris said, “one they wouldn’t want to miss.”