Victory, tiebreaker, net Kadena top seed in Okinawa football playoffs
The team that hadn’t been scored on all season got a taste of its own medicine Thursday.
The Kadena Islanders, who had racked up five straight shutouts, lost 29-0 after the Kadena Buccaneers forced eight turnovers and Tyler Schmidt ran for two touchdowns at Kadena High’s Panthers field.
The Buccaneers and Islanders each ended the Okinawa Activities Council season 5-1. But the Bucs, who lost the season opener 6-0 to the Islanders, claimed the top seed in the island playoffs starting Tuesday by virtue of outscoring the Islanders 29-6 in their two games.
Also, the defending champion Kubasaki Samurai finally won a game, rallying from 3-0 and 9-8 deficits to edge the Kubasaki Shogun 15-9 at Kubasaki’s Mike Petty Stadium.
Both teams finished 1-6, but the Shogun outscored the Samurai 36-21 in their two games this season, giving the Shogun third place.
The Bucs play the Samurai and the Islanders take on the Shogun in Tuesday’s semifinals, both at Mike Petty Stadium, with the winner to play in the island championship Nov. 8 at a site and time to be determined.
The island champion hosts the Japan Football League champion in the Rising Sun Bowl on Nov. 15.
Kadena Buccaneers 29, Kadena Islanders 0
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Losing to the Buccaneers might be the wakeup call his team needed, Islanders coach Sergio Mendoza said.
“Their heads got big and the Bucs popped them,” he said. “We made tons of mistakes. They jumped on us with turnovers. This is going to be an identity check for us. We’ll make some adjustments, come out and see what we can do in the playoffs.”
Even with the top playoff seed secured, Buccaneers coach Brian Wetherington said the real work is just beginning.
“I’m glad we came out on top, but it doesn’t mean a thing. On any given day, anybody can pull the upset,” he said.
“It might be us two again next week,” Wetherington said of a possible rematch in the island championship. The Islanders have “been in the cellar the last two years. That’s a bunch of tough guys over there.”
The Islanders might have fared far worse had not the defense halted the Bucs on three drives deep into their territory.
Schmidt ran for touchdowns of 6 and 17 yards. Blayne Myles, starting at fullback for the first time this season, broke the ice with a 10-yard run and also had a fumble recovery and an interception.
Quarterback A.J. Morgan had 245 all-purpose yards, a fumble recovery, an interception and a 5-yard TD run. He led all runners with 100 yards on 12 carries. Thomas Armani added a 31-yard field goal.
The Islanders, who were outgained 230 yards to 139, got as close as fourth-and-goal at the Buccaneers 4, only to have Armani recover a fumble. Demetrius Kenney led the Islanders with 62 yards on nine carries.
Kubasaki Samurai 15, Kubasaki Shogun 9
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Samurai won despite gaining just 49 yards, thanks to huge defensive help from lineman Paul Haecherl (three fumble recoveries) and linebacker Kyle Leab, who stripped the ball from Sean Sutherland and returned it 29 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Quarterback Justin Daugherty, who had 119 all-purpose yards, threw an 8-yard TD pass to David Rohman for the Samurai, who ran 56 plays to the Shogun’s 29 and forced six turnovers. Daugherty went 6-for-15 for 50 yards and Leab ran 18 times in the second half for 46 yards.
The Shogun got a 37-yard field goal from Nick Leemaster and a 50-yard touchdown run on an end-around by Chris Robinson. Leemaster had 105 all-purpose yards and Sutherland 104.