YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – After a season’s absence, Yokota has vaulted back to its customary spot as champions of the DODDS Japan and Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools football leagues.
Devin Day ran for three touchdowns and Dominique Evans had three takeaways Friday as the Panthers celebrated homecoming by blanking Nile C. Kinnick, 37-0, at Yokota’s Bonk Field. The game was played with a running clock in the second half.
“Fantastic,” said coach Tim Pujol, whose Yokota teams have won 11 DODDS Japan and Kanto football titles in his 12 seasons at the helm. Only in 2009, when the Panthers finished 7-5 and Zama American won DODDS Japan and American School In Japan won Kanto, has Yokota failed to do so.
“I’m very proud of the kids. And I can say with certainty that they earned it,” Pujol said.
With the win, the Panthers earned a berth in the Far East Division I playoffs for the sixth straight season. Though successful in DODDS Japan and Kanto, and having won five straight Rising Sun Bowl titles from 2000-04, Yokota has yet to win a Division I title.
“We’ll have to continue to improve each week,” said Pujol, whose Panthers have two regular-season games left, at home Friday to Robert D. Edgren and Oct. 22 at ASIJ. “I want us to move ahead and not become complacent and want to see us get better each practice and each game.”
Josh Chamberlain ran for a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs, and Myles Andrews was 2-for-4 passing; his completions were for touchdowns of 47 yards to Jordan Herrera and 18 to Chamberlain. Gabe Huizar booted a 27-yard field goal.
Yokota (6-0) snapped a two-game winning streak by the Red Devils (2-4). The Panthers’ defense, in addition to Evans’ two fumble recoveries and interception, held Kinnick to just four net yards of offense. Anthony Smith and Aaron Strauvers each had nine tackles for Kinnick.
The Red Devils still have one chance to make the Division I playoffs – they visit Kubasaki (3-2) of Okinawa in DODDS Pacific’s first-ever play-in game on Saturday at Kubasaki’s Mike Petty Stadium.
“We have to go back to practice and execute,” said first-year Kinnick coach Daniel Joley. “We have some things to work on. Mistakes got us again. Hats off to coach Pujol. We got beat by the better team.”