Zama, Daegu numb to numbers
Stars and Stripes November 4, 2009
They might possess gaudy records, but beneath those numbers lie trends that could prove disturbing for coaches and teams preparing for the Far East football playoffs.
Take Zama American, 6-2 this season. In the Trojans’ first four games, three of them victories, they outscored opponents 126-85. Their wing-T rushing attack piled up 1,584 yards on 225 carries — 7.04 yards per carry.
But in three games since beating Yokota 33-6 at home on Oct. 2, Zama is 2-1 and has rushed for just 445 yards on 129 carries — 3.45 yards per carry.
"We need to get back to blocking like we were," coach Steven Merrell said, adding that he and his staff have been viewing film, breaking down schemes, execution and assignments. "If we execute our blocks better, we could do better."
Zama and Merrell hoped to find that cure in time for Saturday’s Class A title game at Daegu American, whose school-best 6-1 overall record on the surface might demonstrate a dominant campaign. But a closer look reveals anything but.
Toss out that 37-14 victory the first time they met Osan American at home on Sept. 25. Daegu came from behind to win four of its five other league games, and counting its 28-26 loss on Oct. 24 at Osan, Daegu outscored its foes by just 15 points.
"Very tight. We have a competitive league. I don’t think there’s a big gap between our teams," Warriors coach Ken Walter said. He pointed to how Daegu beat Seoul American last season but missed the Class A title game, while the Falcons went on to win their second Class AA crown.
Zama at Daegu is a contrast in styles, pitting the big, physical Trojans against the small, fleet Warriors — who are used to bigger teams, having played Osan and Seoul American during the regular season.
Quarterback Trey Griffen, running back Antoine "Flash" Feagin and receiver David Martinez fuel Walter’s spread-option set. Running backs Michael Spencer, Ashton Norwood and Ryan Blackstock and QB Mike Jorgenson key Merrell’s wing-T attack.
Conditioning and finishing, Walter said, will be keys. After Daegu’s 30-28 overtime victory Friday over Osan, which clinched the Warriors’ playoff berth, Cougars coach Mike Miano e-mailed Walter, telling him: "You guys know how to close out a game."
"We’ve conditioned well," Walter said. "That helped us avoid injury."
That’s especially important, he said, because of Daegu’s thin numbers. Two years ago, when the Warriors lost the Class A title game 27-6 to Edgren, Daegu had to cut its roster from 35 to 25. This year, Walter had to add five jayvees to his 20-man varsity roster.
"We’re pretty thin," Walter said. "Seven or eight of us don’t come out of the ballgame."
That’s pretty much the case with Kadena of Okinawa, which carried 20 players on its varsity. Kadena, Yokota of Japan, Seoul American and Guam High will play in the first all-in-one-location Class AA playoff at Kubasaki’s Mike Petty Stadium on Okinawa.
The first semifinal features a Far East football playoff first — two teams that faced one another in the regular season playing again in the playoffs. Kadena (6-0) plays Yokota (6-4) Monday; Kadena won 35-0 on Oct. 17 at Yokota.
But Kadena coach Sergio Mendoza refuses to take anything for granted.
"It’s not lost on us that they’re a good program, a class program," Mendoza said. "We’re not going to take them lightly. They’re well-coached, disciplined and they’ll be ready to play."
It will be a matchup of running-back tandems: Gerald McCloud and DeEric Harvin for Yokota against Kadena’s Shariff Coleman and Thomas McDonald.
Kadena’s only two losses since 2006 have come in Class AA title games: at Seoul American, 12-6 in overtime in 2006; and 22-21 last November.
The other semifinal, to be played Tuesday, pits Seoul American against Guam High, and the teams’ records might be misleading. The two-time Class AA champion Falcons stumbled to a 1-4 mark; the Panthers finished a school-best second in the Interscholastic Football League.
Guam High’s "Three Caballeros," quarterback Aaron Cosey, running back Jason Brunson and receiver Devon Jacobs, will face the Falcons’ wing-T offense keyed by senior running back Demetrius Johnson and freshman quarterback Brandon Morton.
"It’s a whole new season. It’s a whole new ballgame," Falcons coach Alan Morton said. "We have yet to peak. We’re going to come in there with all we have. We just have to believe we can win."
ScheduleFar East tournamentsFootballClass AChampionshipSaturday, Nov. 7Zama American vs. Daegu American at Kelly Field, Camp Walker, South Korea, 4 p.m.Class AAAt Mike Petty Stadium, Kubasaki High School, Camp Foster, OkinawaSemifinalsMonday, Nov. 9Kadena vs. Yokota, 5:30 p.m.Tuesday, Nov. 10Seoul American vs. Guam High, 5:30 p.m.Saturday, Nov. 14Third-place game, 1 p.m.Championship, 6 p.m.Girls volleyballMonday, Nov. 9-Friday, Nov. 13Class A, Kelly Field House, Camp Walker, and Warrior Gym, Daegu American School, Camp George, South KoreaMonday, Nov. 9-Saturday, Nov. 14Class AA, Guam High School, Asan, and Coral Reef Fitness & Sports Center, Andersen Air Force Base, GuamCross countryMonday, Nov. 9-Tuesday, Nov. 10Class AA and Class A meet, 3.1-mile individual and 12.4-mile relay races, Gosser Memorial Golf Course, Misawa Air Base, JapanTennisMonday, Nov. 9-Wednesday, Nov. 11Singles, doubles and mixed doubles, Risner Tennis Complex, Kadena Air Base, OkinawaJapanGirls volleyballThursday, Nov. 5Kinnick at Sacred Heart, 5:30 p.m.Yokota at CAJ, 5:30 p.m.End regular seasonOkinawaTennisFriday, Nov. 6Okinawa Activities Council District mixed doubles tournament, Kubasaki High School, Camp Foster, 9 a.m.GuamWrestling(Wednesday duals begin at 6 p.m., Saturday duals at 10 a.m.)Wednesday, Nov. 4George Washington vs. Southern, Notre Dame at Father DuenasSaturday, Nov. 7Southern vs. Notre Dame, Father Duenas at Guam HighWednesday, Nov. 11 John F. Kennedy vs. Father Duenas Memorial, Okkodo at Guam HighSt. Paul Christian vs. Notre Dame, Simon Sanchez at George WashingtonGirls basketball(games begin at 5:30 p.m.)Friday, Nov. 6Harvest Christian at St. John’sSt. Paul Christian at OkkodoSimon Sanchez vs. John F. Kennedy at Sports Complex, HarmonAcademy at Notre DameSouthern at Guam HighSaturday, Nov. 7Harvest Christian at AcademyGuam High vs. John F. Kennedy at Sports Complex, HarmonGeorge Washington at OkkodoSt. John’s at Notre DameSt. Paul Christian vs. Southern at Agat GymTuesday, Nov. 10Academy at Simon SanchezHarvest Christian at Guam HighJohn F. Kennedy at George WashingtonOkkodo at Notre DameSouthern at St. John’sBaseballThursday, Nov. 5Simon Sanchez at Okkodo, 4 p.m.John F. Kennedy vs. Father Duenas at Leo Palace, 4 p.m.Guam High at George Washington, 4 p.m.St. Paul Christian at Southern, 4 p.m.Saturday, Nov. 7Father Duenas at Southern, 10 a.m.Okkodo at George Washington, 10 a.m.Simon Sanchez vs. John F. Kennedy at George Washington High School, 12:30 p.m.Guam High vs. St. Paul Christian at George Washington High School, 3 p.m.Monday, Nov. 9Father Duenas vs. Guam High at George Washington High School, 4 p.m.Boys soccer(matches begin at 4:30 p.m.,except where noted)Wednesday, Nov. 4Southern at St. John’sGeorge Washington at St. Paul ChristianNotre Dame vs. Father Duenas at Leo Palace, 6:30 p.m.Thursday, Nov. 5Simon Sanchez at Harvest Christian AcademyJohn F. Kennedy at Guam HighSaturday, Nov. 7Simon Sanchez at St. John’sNotre Dame at St. Paul ChristianOkkodo at John F. KennedyGeorge Washington at Harvest ChristianGuam High vs. Father Duenas at Leo Palace, 6:30 p.m.