Winning streaks have long been associated with Yokota since it began playing football in 1973.

The Panthers hold the Pacific record for most consecutive league titles won (10), most consecutive regular-season victories (55) and the current Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools streak at 41 games.

But that’s not front and center on the team’s agenda, coach Tim Pujol said.

“We talk about the history and tradition to let [players] know what they’re a part of,” said Pujol on Tuesday, three days before a crucial DODEA Japan Football League game at Zama American.

“But keeping a streak alive doesn’t appear on our goal chart at the start of a season. We don’t really talk about that. Our goals are to win Kanto, JFL and a Far East championship.”

It’s that thinking that helps a team avoid the pressure associated with keeping such a streak going. “He may feel some pressure, but he has such a system over there that he doesn’t have the pressure that some folks might think” he does, Zama coach Steven Merrell said.

Friday’s contest, four weeks after Yokota (5-0) held home field against Zama 28-12, looms large for the host Trojans (2-1). Merrell and his charges feel they have as good a chance of ending a 22-game losing streak to the Panthers as they ever had.

“People here are definitely excited about the game,” Merrell said, noting that everyone from school officials to base leadership have voiced support. “It’s Yokota. People know what Yokota’s about. They want to see what they’ve got and what we can do against them.”

Featured in Merrell’s Wing-T attack are Michael Spencer (386 yards, 4 TDs, 43 carries), Ryan Blackstock (186, 4, 22) and Ashton Norwood (285, 3, 43).

They’ll face Yokota’s multiple attack triggered by Gerald McCloud (448, 6, 59), Bradley Forbes (389, 4, 44) and DeEric Harvin (27-for-46, 455 yards, 5 TDs). Standout fullback-linebacker Rainey Daley (ankle) will be a game-time decision.

Pujol likens these Trojans to ones that gave Yokota fits earlier this decade. “They’ve had some monster teams in the past. Those teams were loaded with talent. Preparing for them has always been a challenge.”


n Citing another rise in H1N1 flu cases at the school, American School In Japan forfeited its game Saturday at Robert D. Edgren. School officials told Edgren principal Jeff Arrington that the team’s numbers were too depleted. Arrington’s offer of playing a mixed varsity-junior varsity split-squad contest was declined by ASIJ officials. The forfeiture leaves Edgren with a three-week void in its schedule; Kadena, citing funding issues, didn’t travel to Edgren for a Sept. 26 contest.

n With Tropical Storm Melor churning toward Guam, Saturday’s three scheduled Interscholastic Football League games are “on for now” but will be played on a case-by-case basis depending on weather conditions, league officials said. Melor is forecast to rumble past Guam on Saturday evening, packing sustained 92-mph winds and 110-mph gusts at its center.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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