Broken scoreboard and humid conditions do little to stop Red Devil defense in season opener
By Greg Mitchell,FLEACT, Yokosuka, Public Affairs
Braving swarms of flying insects and humid conditions, Nile C. Kinnick fought through a ragged, penalty-filled contest against Zama American, shutting out the Trojans, 30-0 in the season opener at Camp Zama, Sept. 5.
The Red Devil defense made things uncomfortable for the Zama offense the entire night, recording four sacks, 18 tackles for losses and allowing the Trojans a net total of just 15 yards of offense. Junior running back Dre Paylor appeared to be as much of a threat as he was last season carrying the football, rushing for 274 yards on 23 carries, including touchdown runs of one, 28 and 19 yards.
Even still, Paylor had to share the spotlight with the entire defense.
“What a way to open the season with such a solid [defensive] performance like this,” said varsity coach Dan Joley. “I can’t just single out any one individual defensively. The best thing about tonight was with the heat, humidity and nasty conditions most of our boys played on both sides of the ball and performed extremely well. These guys as a unit were just phenomenal.”
On the Red Devils’ first play from scrimmage, Paylor broke loose on a 55-yard run down to the Zama six yard line. On the ensuing play, senior quarterback Kyle O’Brien fumbled the snap, turning the ball over to Zama. However, after a solid defensive series, O’Brien would redeem himself on the next drive with a 1 yard touchdown plunge, topped off by Paylor’s two-point conversion, making the score 8-0.
Kinnick continued to add pressure defensively, eventually adding a safety to close the half with a 10- 0 lead. Once the second half began, offensively things turned into a collaborative effort, with seniors George Calbert, Greg Bacon and O’Brien sharing the load to take pressure off Paylor and closing the night with 388 yards of total offense.
“Heck of a game played by all of our boys today,” said junior varsity head coach Gary Wilson. “These are the types of games that the team will encounter during the season. I think we need to focus on having an intense tempo at practice so they can be better conditioned. Even still, what an effort these guys put in tonight!”
Along with Paylor’s offensive burst, senior defensive tackle Bryce Cherrstrom had a career night with two sacks and eight tackles. Senior George Calbert had eight tackles; junior Tarick Mitchell and sophomore Dwayne Lyon each had five to round out the top.
“I think this was my best game, but I can only get better,” said Cherrstrom. “Next week, I plan to work just as hard and hopefully we have the same outcome, but you never know.”
Nile C. Kinnick returns to Berkey Field for their second game of the season against the defending 2013 Far East Champion Kubasaki Dragons, Sept. 13.