Yokota grounds Jets, will be host to USFJ-AFL’s Torii Bowl for 1st time
Fredrick Guild and the Yokota Warriors will host the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League’s Torii Bowl for the first time.
With a touchdown run and a scoring pass, Guild helped pace Yokota to an 18-14 comeback win over Misawa in the North Division title game. His performance mirrored his second-half heroics — a touchdown run and a TD pass — in a 22-8 home win over the Jets on June 22.
Only this time, far more was at stake. Yokota has played in three previous Torii Bowls, all road defeats, but will now play the league’s championship game on its home Bonk Field at Yokota High School.
“I’m shocked, but also very happy,” Warriors coach Selwyn Jones said. “It was a lot of hard work.”
Yokota will host the winner of Tuesday’s South Division title game pitting defending league champion Foster against Joint Task Force at Camp McTureous on Okinawa.
The Torii Bowl is scheduled for July 25; however, that may change, depending on when the South Division champion can travel. Both South coaches indicated five days is not enough time to do such a trip; Jones indicated that Yokota may be receptive to a date change.
Misawa and Yokota traded touchdowns throughout Saturday’s contest. Kevin Fortin put the Warriors up 6-0 with a 25-yard run, but the Jets’ Travis Heywood responded with a short scoring run.
Guild’s 10-yard run gave Yokota a 12-6 third-quarter lead, but again Misawa’s Heywood answered, with a touchdown pass to Rich Gennie.
Finally, Yokota sealed it when Guild spotted Tyson Huff and tossed a 65-yard touchdown pass to him with 2:45 left.
“Misawa was in it all the way to the end,” Jones said. “I’ve always had a lot of respect for Misawa. But this is the black-and-blue division. We always bring it.”
Now, Yokota gets a chance to avenge its 30-6 Torii Bowl loss last Aug. 29 at Foster, should the Bulldogs prevail in Tuesday’s South Division title game. The Warriors lost the 2005 Torii Bowl 30-21 at Misawa and the 2000 championship game 12-6 at Yokosuka.
Misawa was trying for its third Torii Bowl berth in five years and fifth overall. In addition to the 2005 title game, the Jets prevailed over Yokosuka in the 2008 Torii Bowl; both titles came at home.
“We executed, but we didn’t finish,” Jets coach Ben Mathe said. “If we execute and do what we’re supposed to do … it’s a different game. But that’s football.”