YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Yokota football has already had a key Division I clash postponed due to foul weather this season. Panthers coach Tim Pujol and Nile C. Kinnick coach Dan Joley didn’t want a repeat of that with the remnants of Typhoon Francisco rapidly approaching the Kanto Plain.

So rather than the traditional junior varsity 4:30 p.m. start followed by the varsity at 7 p.m., the teams will flip-flop time slots, with their hopes of remaining in the D-I title-game chase riding on the outcome.

“Dan and I talked about it and we decided this was the best approach,” Pujol said. Yokota’s game at Kadena on Oct. 5 was postponed due to a pair of typhoons approaching Okinawa that weekend.

Kinnick has one D-I defeat and Yokota has two on its ledger. A loss would certainly eliminate the Panthers from a shot at defending championships won in 2011 and 2012; if Kinnick loses, the Red Devils would still be alive, but would need help getting the visitor’s D-I title-game berth.

Talk had centered on possibly moving Kinnick at Yokota to Saturday or even Monday before settling on the earlier start, Pujol and Joley said.

“We’re just excited to play,” Joley said. “The game was up in the air for awhile. We’re ready to go.”

The weather still calls for 80-percent chance of rain. “Not the most ideal conditions, but we’re used to that” at Yokosuka Naval Base’s Berkey Field, right on Tokyo Bay, Joley said.

The Red Devils are expecting a far different team than the Panthers they beat 55-27 on Sept. 6 at Berkey. “That’s to be expected,” Joley said. “You have a team with a good coach and good kids; the game was much closer than the score indicated last time.”

Another key D-I battle pits Kubasaki at Kadena at Ryukyu Middle School, with the Okinawa Activities Council district title on the line. The season series is even at 1-1. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.

Coach Sergio Mendoza is hoping his Panthers will play more like the team that routed the Dragons 49-26 last month, instead of the one that lost 12-6 to Kubasaki on Aug. 26. “Better execution,” Mendoza said. “We’re not where we need to be. We need better execution on both sides of the ball and we have to do a better job of tackling.”

Kadena-Kubasaki games are “always a challenge, always exciting,” Dragons coach Fred Bales said. “I think both sides will be hungry. It should be a good game.”

Seoul American visits Daegu with a shot at winning the DODDS Korea title on Friday. Kickoff is 6 p.m.

Elsewhere, Guam High hopes it can capture third place in the Interscholastic Football League when the Panthers face Okkodo at John F. Kennedy High School in Upper Tumon at 7 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, George Washington plays Simon Sanchez for the IFL title at 7 p.m. at Okkodo High in Dededo.

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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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