Weather adds wrinkle into D-I football scene
TORII STATION, Okinawa – One of DODDS Pacific’s officials’ greatest fears about maintaining the balance of the DODDS Pacific Far East football schedule is weather – specifically typhoons and their ability to affect teams to travel throughout the area.
That factor has reared its head and caused DODDS Pacific officials to postpone Saturday’s Yokota at Kadena Division I game, with Tropical Storm Fitow forecast to pass just southwest of Okinawa on Saturday.
No makeup date has been announced, and it’s very possible the game won’t be played at all and each team would lose a chance to gain ground in the D-I title-game berth chase. The teams have no corresponding byes the rest of the season, and Yokota has games every week until season’s end.
“Even if we were able to get them (Yokota) in and play the game, it (Fitow) could hang around, it could strengthen, they could be stuck here for several days,” DODDS Pacific spokesman Charly Hoff said Thursday. “We decided it was not worth the risk.”
Nile C. Kinnick leads the D-I chase at 2-0, followed by Kadena and Kubasaki, each 2-1. The top two regular-season finishers play Nov. 9 for the D-I title at the site of the team with the better record.
Yokota hosts Zama American on Oct. 11, then Seoul American on Oct. 19 and Kinnick on Oct. 25 to close its regular season. Kadena hosts Daegu on Oct. 13 and Kubasaki on Oct. 25 before traveling to Kinnick for the Nov. 2 season finale.
Athletics coordinator Don Hobbs said DODDS Pacific is exploring options for making up the game, but “I don’t have an answer at the moment. So many things get thrown into the arena. Hopefully, we’ll be able to focus on something earlier rather than later.”
Kadena coach Sergio Mendoza said he’s sent in several suggestions, “but that’s above my pay grade.” One of the suggestions was to replay the game on Nov. 9 and push the D-I title game back to the 16th. But DODDS officials would rather not end the fall season that late, Hobbs said.
“I don’t see the need to end it (season) that early,” Mendoza said. “You have mitigating circumstances. There has to be a solution. You just get this really sick feeling. The boys have drilled and worked so hard. Somehow, some way something happens so the boys can get to play.”
“It’s unfortunate for the teams, the D-I standings and Kadena missing a game, but what can you do?” Yokota coach Tim Pujol said. “It’s unfortunate about the typhoon, but when it comes to kids, I can see (DODDS) erring on the side of caution.”
Among games that will take place, American School In Japan continues its bid for its first Kanto Plain title since 2009 when it visits Zama American at Naval Air Facility Atsugi. Kinnick, which leads DODDS Japan as well as D-I, travels to Robert D. Edgren. Both games are on Friday.
The champion of Guam's Interscholastic Football League will be determined on the final weekend. Guam High (4-1) needs to beat John F. Kennedy and hope Simon Sanchez can beat Father Duenas Memorial to win that league’s regular season and first-round playoff bye.