Zama grabs playoff spot with rout of Edgren
CAMP ZAMA, Japan – Zama American has punched a ticket to the Far East High School Division II football championship game for the second straight season.
Michael Spencer scored twice and D.J. Ward ran back a punt 85 yards for a touchdown as the Trojans, despite wind and rain, routed Robert D. Edgren 38-8 to sweep the DODDS Japan season series with the Eagles, 2-0. Zama outscored Edgren 80-30 in the two games.
On Nov. 6, Zama will host the winner of the two-game DODDS Korea series between Osan and Daegu American. Daegu won the first game 42-6 on Sept. 17. The Trojans beat Daegu 46-38 in last year’s Division II title game at South Korea’s Camp Walker.
“It’s definitely exciting, knowing we’re going back,” coach Steven Merrell said after his Trojans (3-2) snapped their two-game skid. “The first time is always special, (but) this one is special, we have a lot of new kids. I guess you never get tired of playing for a title.”
Zama roared in front 32-0 and after Ward’s punt-return TD – the “nail in the coffin,” Eagles coach Michael Gros said – the rest of the game was played with a running clock. Edgren fell to 0-4 on the season.
Tackling was the major bugaboo for the Eagles “again,” Gros said. “Spencer is just hard to tackle. He’d run up the middle, he’d run outside, he’d run off tackle; he just had some good, positive runs.”
One Edgren run early in the second quarter, a 64-yarder by Sean Gammel, was called back due to an illegal formation penalty. Gros called that the game’s turning point.
Spencer finished with 95 yards on 10 carries. Nick McDaniel had a 32-yard touchdown run and an interception, and Jonathan Neyland also picked off a pass - his return for a touchdown was nullified by a penalty. Matt Cole added a 9-yard scoring run for Zama.
Joel Balmforth had Edgren’s lone touchdown late in the contest, with Sayer Austin adding a two-point conversion. Balmforth also had a sack. Edgren had 128 yards on 26 rushes. Gammel was 4-for-7 passing for 42 yards and Balmforth finished with 26 yards on eight carries. Xavier Major had eight tackles.