Scoreboard does little to dampen Red Devil football family spirit With a 7-5 record, season viewed a success despite finish

Story and photos by Greg Mitchell

Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka’s Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils football team played their last game of the season at Berkey Field against the Kadena Panthers, losing 49-14, Nov. 2. The victory secured Kadena’s chance to play in the upcoming Division I Championship game against the Kubasaki Dragons, Nov. 9 at RyukyuMiddle School’s Habu Field.

Despite the loss, the 2013 season ended with a few milestones for the Red Devils. The team finished with an overall record of 7-5, their first winning season since 2006 and at 5-1 amongst the Department of Defense (DODDS) Japan schools, the team took the DODDS Japan Championship, the first in school history.

Sophomore running back Dre Paylor became the second running back in Pacific football 131102-N-OB549-310history to eclipse the 2,000-yard rushing mark in a season, with 2,002 yards on 250 carries. Including the stats from the Aug. 17 game against the combined Gakuin Eagles/Yokohama Bisons, Paylor finished the season with 2,280 yards on 274 carries and 15 touchdowns. Against Kadena, he finished with 138 yards on 21 carries.

“It’s bittersweet that it didn’t come in a victory,” Kinnick coach Dan Joley said. “But I’m proud of Dre. To persist as he has over these last five games, knowing that every team targets him and still come up with big numbers, it’s so surreal sometimes to think he’s a sophomore.”

Corey Dunlap-Buckmon of the Simon Sanchez Sharks on Guam holds the official Pacific record with 2,088 yards, which was set in 2001.

Senior quarterback Dustin Wilson scored both of the Red Devils’ touchdowns to set a milestone himself; with 1,800 yards total offense to complete the season, he tied the DODDS Japan single-season record for touchdowns with 30; 2,257 yards and 33 scores overall. Against Kadena, he rushed for 48 yards on 11 carries and passed for 72 yards on 3-for-9 passing. Sophomore linebacker George Calbert led the Kinnick defense with 17 tackles.

Despite the defeat, there was still a since of achievement by the coaching staff and the entire team.

“You take the last quarter in this game when you knew it was kind of out of control and you think back on the season – it’s disappointing to go out this way; it really hurts to go out this way,” said Joley. “But what these guys accomplished is incredible. We got one record breaker, a tie for a record and our first winning season since 2006 and I’m just proud of these guys.

Behind the starting offensive line comprised of Kai Warford, Ian O’Brien, Tyler Shilton, Chris Diebel and Taikai Martin, the 2013 Red Devils tallied up 4,766 yards of offense, 48 touchdowns and 380 points, an average of 32 points per game.

“I think the season was a successful campaign,” said assistant coach George Calbert. “It could have been better but it was still a success. By winning the DODDS Japan title this year will be a stepping stone for the team to achieve more next year. We have a lot pieces returning so we should be able to make a run next season.”

Defensively, Nile C. Kinnicks’ results were a combination of highs and lows. During the teams five losses, the defense gave up a total of 202 points, approximately 40 points per game but in the seven victories, the team gave up only 123 points, approximately 17 points per game. The leader on defense was co-captain and senior defensive tackle Ian O’Brien, a physical presence up the middle that routinely disrupted the rhythm of opposing offenses with constant pressure. His eight quarterback sacks lead the team, along with 69 tackles, 22 for losses, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries.

Sophomore linebacker George Calbert, who did not start when the season began, stepped in and led the team in total tackles with 86, six of which were for losses. Rounding out the top five where Senior defensive end Tyler Shilton with 75 and Junior linebacker Kyle O’Brien with 64 and an interception and Junior safety Greg Bacon with 52 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery.

Nile C. Kinnick’s Junior varsity team was comprised of predominately freshman athletes, most of which had never played a down of organized football. But upon the completion of the season, the general feeling amongst the coaching staff is that the future of the Red Devils looks bright.

“I think we got some talent coming up from the JV level,” said Varsity defensive coordinator Andrew Warford. “We have some much needed speed coming up from the skills positions, some of which are good runners who did a fantastic job for us this season. We will just restock and if we get any new kids coming in from PCS – it could be as little as six guys – we’ll be challenging for the title again.”

Warford also felt that the Junior varsity linemen that will come up to be on varsity for next season had some size and would add more depth up front.

“Despite the overall improvement across the board in all phases of the game, everyone knows that no matter what team or what level there is always room for improvement,” said Junior varsity head coach Gary Wilson. “I think that areas of focus for next season on both teams would be the need to improve on tackling, team speed, strength and overall toughness. These are the elements we were missing at times this season but, I am extremely proud of our boys and we will all continue to grow together and build Red Devil football into one solid cohesive unit.”

As one of the captains of the football team, Dustin Wilson was asked to reflect on how he felt the season went.

“We started off great and then, it’s not that we slowed down, but it’s that we started playing really good teams like ASIJ and Kubasaki, who all brought the heat, so it kind of put us in a funk,” said Wilson. “But every single game we still played for each other and continued to play as one team. This isn’t the way we wanted to end the season but, the defense played well and we got Dre the record so we had something to be excited about.”

Wilson said that he probably played his last game as a football player. He has been accepted to Saginaw Valley State University, where he will focus on majoring in Criminal Justice, and may try out for the university soccer team. If he doesn’t make the team, he plans to play intramural sports until he graduates.

In the history of the NFL, seven men have successfully rushed for 2,000 yards or more in a season, the last being Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in 2012. Even though Paylor accomplished this while at the high school level, the achievement is one that most running backs at every level only dream of doing. When Shanika Redmond, mother of Dre Paylor was told of what her son was able to accomplish in comparison to NFL standards, she was at a loss for words.

“I am just totally speechless right now,” said Redmond. “I am proud and I hope that he does it again. I just hope that he stays grounded; I want him to remember to continue to focus on his school work just as much as his athletic abilities. But again, I’m just glad that he is enjoying his high school sports.”

Paylor was reserved when asked what he felt about his rushing of over 2,000 yards for the season.

“It makes me feel good because I wasn’t expecting it but, I want to thank my offensive line because they were the ones who helped me gain all those yards,” said Paylor. “I just want to focus on continuing to improve on both sides of the ball in every phase of the game. I really don’t care about how much yards I gain; I just want to get the W – I want to do whatever it takes to win.”

For some, the 2013 Red Devil football season means the end of an era.

“It was an awesome season and not just from Dustin’s accomplishment and Dre breaking 2,000, but just from the kids as a whole,” said assistant coach Anthony Gaddis. “We didn’t really have any superstars. It took all 21 kids to play together as a group and a family. I don’t think our overall record truly shows how the kids grew as players and as young men. Each week you saw them getting better and better and learning and I was happy to be a part of it.”

Gaddis and his family will be transferring to Jacksonville, Florida next summer prior to the start of the 2014 season.

“I wish I could stay, but unfortunately life in the military calls, so we have to leave,” said Gaddis. “I still hope to stay in touch with the guys and the coaches. I definitely learned a whole lot more about football. I’ve learned different techniques of coaching and things like that. The kids helped me grow as a coach, as well as learning from coach Joley, Wilson, Warford and Calbert – just being around them and their knowledge. I will take that with me back to the states where hopefully I will be coaching football at a high school possibly. If not, it will be somewhere, even if its’ Pop Warner. I will also be coaching soccer. I know this is a football interview but, I am going to miss my soccer boys too.”

Upon the completion of the game, players and staff enjoyed a picnic together along with the players and coaching staff of Kadena. It was the last gathering of the season for the Red Devils on the gridiron.

“We fought through some adversity in the second half of the season but I know they have learned some valuable lessons about life; about trusting each other and loving each other,” said Joley. “All those kinds of things are important about athletics and these guys got that. In the big picture, wins and losses, it really doesn’t matter with these guys. They understood the value of family. We talked all season about the fact that you are given two things in life; your name and your word. They understand that and you work hard to protect your name and to protect your integrity. In the end, these guys are all winners.”

2013 Red Devils stats (Note: the stats from the Gakuin Eagles/Yokohama Bisons game are not listed.)

Passing Att Comp % Comp TD INT YDS RATING
WILSON

62

144

43.1

8

9

971

104.1

Rushing

Att

Yds

TD

Ave

Paylor

240

2002

11

   8.3
Wilson

137

1002

20

7.3

Bacon

38

224

1

5.9

Calbert

9

26

0

2.7

Daniels

3

6

0

2.0

Mitchell

3

-2

0

-2.0

K O’Brian

1

2

0

2.0

KINNICK

431

3260

32

7.6

Receiving

Rec

YDS

TD

AVE

Bacon

19

376

3

19.8

Daniels

10

165

2

16.5

Evans

10

123

3

12.3

Paylor

10

120

0

12.0

Dignan

6

84

0

14.0

K O’Brian

4

57

0

14.3

Yates

2

34

0

17.0

Calbert

1

12

0

12.0

KINNICK

62

971

8

15.7

Kick Return

No

Yds

Ave

TD

Paylor

21

565

26.9

3

Calbert

7

123

17.8

0

Bacon

7

80

11.4

0

K O’Brian

6

71

11.8

0

Martin

2

14

7.0

0

Brunache

1

9

9.0

0

Sueda

1

1

1.0

0

Dignan

1

1

1.0

0

Yates

1

1

1.0

0

KINNICK

47

906

19.3

3

Punt Return No. YD Ave TD
Paylor 8 110 13.8 0
Bacon 1 22 22.0 0
KINNICK 9 132 14.7 0
Defense Solo Asst Total TFL Sack FF FR INT YDS PD TD
Calbert 44 42 86 6 0 0 2 0 0 0 0
Shilton 42 33 75 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
I. O’Brian 49 20 69 22 8 1 3 0 0 0 0
K. O’Brian 32 32 64 0 0 1 0 1 2 4 0
Bacon 33 19 52 4 0 0 1 1 5 3 0
Evans 21 22 43 5 1.5 0 3 0 0 0 0
Paylor 24 18 42 2 0 0 0 1 10 3 0
Yates 25 14 38 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
Mitchell 23 12 35 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Galegher 19 13 32 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Gann 22 9 31 5 2 1 1 0 0 0 0
Martin 14 12 26 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Dignan 18 7 25 0 0 0 0 1 2 1 0
Brunache 9 12 21 6 1.5 0 0 0 0 0 0
Daniels 11 8 19 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
Warford 14 5 19 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Munn 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Banks 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

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