Story by Greg Mitchell, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – Going into their final regular season contest in Okinawa against the Kadena Dragons Oct. 19, the Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils’, with a win, had a chance of hosting the Far East Division I football championship at Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka Berkey Field. Forty-nine unanswered points later, that chance was gone and the Red Devils’ 2014 football season over.
“We started the game strong for the first couple of series,” said running back Dre Paylor. “After that, I think we just lost our discipline and focus.”
Paylor, the Pacific leagues’ leading rusher, found the Dragon defense prepared for him, holding him to his lowest rushing total of the season at 108 yards. Complimenting Paylor’s efforts, Greg Bacon accounted for 77 total yards for the Red Devils. However, Kinnick had little else to show for on offense. In a game where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, the Red Devils turned the ball over four times and missed a field goal by kicker Brady Yoder.
“Hat’s off to coach (Sergio) Mendoza,” said Kinnick coach Dan Joley. “I wish him the best of luck. It’s a huge deal to play in a championship game.”
Kadena was paced by the performance of running back Justin Sego, who rushed 14 times for 171 yards, including touchdown runs of 19, 11 and 63 yards. Sego also stepped in as quarterback, throwing a 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jamario Harris.
Kadena’s win left them locked in a three-way tie with Kubasaki and Kinnick at 3-1 in the Division I standings. However, a total point tiebreaker eliminated the Red Devils allowing Kubasaki to host the D-I title game. Kadena, a two-time loser to the Samurai in the regular season, will be listed as the visitor.
“From the beginning, we just weren’t ready to play and Kadena was, and they have a lot of passion, a lot of fire and we didn’t have either of those two things,” said Joley.
Despite the loss, Nile C. Kinnick viewed the season as a success, they were crowned Kanto Plain champs for the second consecutive season and Paylor finished the season as the leading rusher with 1,573 yards and 18 touchdowns.
“It’s not about me; it’s never been about me,” said Paylor. “It’s always about the team for me. Obviously this was a disappointment for us but, at least we won more than we lost.”
The 2014 Far East Division I Championship between the Kadena Dragons and the Kubasaki Samurai is scheduled for Nov. 8 at Camp Foster, Okinawa’s Mike Petty Stadium.