Zama, Daegu battling for DII title - again
As familiar as they are with each other’s styles, one operating out of a Wing-T and the other employing the spread option, one might view Saturday’s Far East Division II football title game, Zama American at Daegu, as two brothers trying to shove each other around.
“Well, maybe your cousin,” Zama coach Steven Merrell said of what’s becoming an annual ritual. His Trojans rallied at Daegu, 46-38, for the 2009 D-II title. The Warriors repaid the favor, 28-2, at Zama last year. “I hope we continue this for quite a while.”
“Steve and I generally like each other,” Daegu coach Ken Walter said, “but this time each year, we become enemies. We know each other well. I’m trying to ruin his day, he’s trying to ruin mine.”
Unlike years past, when each team entered the D-II title game with a winning record, Daegu with two straight DODDS Korea titles and Zama the 2009 crown, the Trojans (3-6) and Warriors (1-5) endured comparatively subpar seasons, mainly due to injuries to skills-positions stars.
Zama, which has lost four straight after opening 3-2, will pin its hopes on junior star backs Andre Encarnacion and Mitchell Harrison being healthy, as will Walter hope that Lee Wright can go 100 percent.
Both coaches insist that past results and win-loss records go out the window when playing for a banner.
“One game, winner take all,” Walter said. “They’ve (Zama) been down the past few weeks with injuries, but they’re healthy now and ready.”
“Both teams have had seasons neither planned for, but one of the teams will end on a good, positive note because something is at stake, because of those high stakes.”
And with star backs Michael Spencer of Zama and Jarel “Tank” Connie of Daegu having graduated and become distant memories, “you have a totally different mix of teams,” Walter said.
“Different year, different teams, different returners, different new guys,” Merrell said. “That’s why they play the games on the field. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Kickoff is at 6 p.m. Saturday at Camp Walker’s turfed Kelly Field. Rain and temperatures in the high 50s to low 60s are in the forecast.
Elsewhere, Japan’s season ends Friday with Nile C. Kinnick’s homecoming game against American School In Japan, which is hoping to secure a share of the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools title with Yokota. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Yokosuka Naval Base’s Berkey Field.
That leaves one game remaining – the Far East D-I championship pitting Kubasaki at Yokota at 7 p.m. Nov. 12.