Storm threats do little to stop Red Devils during physical slugfest at Berkey Field
Story and photos by Greg Mitchell, FLEACT, Yokosuka, Public Affairs
The Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils football team upset defending Far East Champion Kubasaki Dragons, 22-18 in Division I high school gridiron action Sept. 13. The game, played at Yokosuka’s Berkey Field, was viewed as an opportunity for the Kinnick coaching staff to see where their team stands in this year’s league.
They did not disappoint.
Lead by running back Dre Paylor’s 138 yards on 20 carries and one touchdown, Kinnick amassed 259 yards on the ground. Greg Bacon had 100 yards on five carries and one touchdown.
“As short as the season is, as limited as the opportunities are to play Division I games, every Division I game is crucial,” said Kinnick varsity head coach Dan Joley. “So we’ve been pressuring the kids, getting them to make this game count. This was a battle, a backyard brawl, two great defenses against two good offensive teams. Both sides brought it tonight.”
On the first play from the line of scrimmage, safety Greg Bacon attempted to set the tone of the game with a violent stick on Kubasaki running back Winston Maxwell, getting the Red Devil defense charged up. Yet, the Dragons marched down field and scored on a 28-yard touchdown pass from quarterback DeCurtis Davis to receiver Jacob Green, capping off a 10 play 79-yard drive. The missed extra point made it 6-0 Kubasaki.
On the ensuing possession, Kinnick responded with a touchdown of its own on a seven-play, 64-yard drive, ending with a one yard run by Paylor, plus the extra point conversion made it 8-6 Red Devils. The key play of the drive was Paylor’s 38-yard run on 3rd and one from Kubasaki’s 39 yard line.
After Kinnicks’ score, Kubasaki answered immediately on the next drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to receiver Isaiah Johnson. For the second consecutive time, the Red Devil defense stiffened on the extra point attempt, making it 12-8 Dragons.
After forcing Kinnick to punt, Kubasaki immediately threatened again, starting from their 50 and driving down to the Kinnick 21, but a fumble by Maxwell at the Kinnick 19 negated their efforts.
A three-yard touchdown run by Kyle O’Brien, followed by the 2-point conversion throw by senior backup quarterback Joshua Thompson made the score 16-12 Kinnick, where it stood until the third quarter.
That’s when the lightning came.
With 7:53 left in the third, lightning storm activity caused officials to stop play for 30 minutes, with hopes that the storm would distance itself from the playing field. Weather conditions improved and approximately 45 minutes after play had paused, the game resumed.
The scoreboard remained the same until the fourth quarter, when Bacon scored on a 59-yard touchdown run, pushing the Red Devil lead to 22-12. Maxwell responded on the next Dragon drive with a 55-yard run, cutting the lead to 22-18 Kinnick.
Senior linebacker George Calberts’ tackle on the Dragons kick returner prior to the final play may have helped seal the win for the Devils as Davis’ Hail Mary pass went incomplete with no time left.
Calbert again lead all tacklers for the second week with 19, and one quarterback sack. Chris Morris had 10 tackles, and nine by Paylor. Junior Nick Galagher had 7 tackles, to include one interception.
“I am just ecstatic right now for the boys!” Joley said upon the completion of the game. “We prepared [the team] the best we could all week and they just went out and did the rest. What a great victory this is for them!”
Now, Kinnick will turn its sights towards the Robert E. Edgren Eagles, who come to town Sept. 19.
“We’ll take a look at a few things offensively and defensively, take care of a few minor bumps and bruises then proceed from there,” Joley said.