Rushing performance snaps 18-year Kinnick losing streak at the air base
Story and photos by Greg Mitchell
Kinnick had its backs against the wall in the fourth quarter. Despite a 30-23 lead momentum had swung to the Yokota Panthers who was threatening to tie the game after driving to the Kinnick two-yard line with less than seven minutes to go.
Playing the night in a ‘bend but don’t break’ fashion, the Red Devils responded when it needed most,stopping the Yokota offense on a 4th and goal, setting the stage for running back Dre Paylor to make history two plays later, as he scampered down field for 85 yards to score his fifth and final score.
At times throughout the game it seemed like the 18-year losing streak at Yokota would continue but Kinnick responded when it needed most with a 36-23 victory that solidified its place at the top of Division I standings at 5-0.
“It was one of the most fun games I’ve been a part of since I came to DODDS” six years ago, Joley said. “Two hard-hitting football teams going at it toe-to-toe, good offenses, a couple of good coaching staffs. We couldn’t stop each other. A slugfest, absolutely. Well executed by everybody out there. It was like a chess match.”
But the night belonged to Paylor, who rushed 27 times for 445 yards and five touchdowns, the most yards in Pacific high school football history. The previous record was set Oct. 4, 2006 by Seoul American running back David Smalls, who rushed for 421 yards on 29 carries.
“Absolutely amazing,” coach Dan Joley said of Paylor’s performance. “I couldn’t have asked for a nicer person to break the record. I love Dre. He’s been a workhorse, a real team leader. As a unit, everybody works hard to get Dre the yards, but Dre appreciates the team aspect of it.”
Defensively, the Red Devils had a hard time containing the Panther running game during the second half, particularly when the Red Devils’ leading tackler, linebacker George Calbert left the game with cramps. It did not help that run-stopping tackle Bryce Cherstrom was out entirely for this contest, due to a concussion.
Kinnick was led by linebackers Chris Morris and Tarick Mitchell, both with 11 tackles. Calbert finished with 10 and Nick Gallagher had nine to round out the top. The Panther offense tallied 288 yards to Kinnick’s 476.
“We made stops when we needed but I feel we have to play better defensively next week,” said Mitchell.
Praise for Paylor was shared with the team’s offensive line said assistant coach George Calbert Sr.
“Dre had an awesome game tonight, but our offensive line clearly did their jobs tonight as a complete unit,” Calbert said.“There were constantly holes all around for Dre and company to run through. Just an overall solid performance.”
Nile C. Kinnick travels to Tokyo to play against American School in Japan (ASIJ) Oct. 10.