Kadena spreads it around in routing ASIJ
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – While Justin Sego is the acknowledged lead running back for Kadena, others have been waiting in the wings for their turn at doing some heavy lifting.
That turn came Friday at Ryukyu Middle School’s Habu Field. Quarterback Jamario Harris accounted for three touchdowns, Barry Mitchell for two and two other running backs also scored as the Panthers routed American School In Japan 49-0 in the first meeting between the teams.
“We’ve been working hard and it was time for them to shine,” coach Sergio Mendoza said of a cluster of backs who accounted for 353 rushing yards. “We knew we had backups who were ready to play, and they all did a good job.”
The Panthers also shined on defense, holding a Mustangs team that had gone unbeaten last year for the first time in 32 seasons to just 74 yards of offense and three first downs. ASIJ breached Kadena territory just twice, getting as far as the 35-yard line in the third quarter.
“We just ran into a great team,” ASIJ coach John Seevers said. “This is one of the best teams we’ve played in a long time. They’re well-coached, big, strong, fast and of course Sego is a hammer. And we weren’t ready for it.”
It was the first loss for the Mustangs since a 42-7 defeat against Yokota on Oct. 5, 2012. It snapped a 12-game winning streak, the longest in the Pacific.
The Panthers (2-0) struck early and often, only punting twice, early in the first half. Harris ran for touchdowns of 1 and 24 yards and threw a 43-yard scoring pass to Mitchell. Harris finished with 146 yards of total offense and 217 all-purpose yards.
Mitchell ran five times for 30 yards and caught two passes for 93. Kortez Hixon added a touchdown run and had 47 yards on eight carries. Dominique Santanelli added a touchdown run and Stephen Black an 18-yard field goal. Another backup, Jason Bland, had 54 yards on four carries on the game’s last drive.
The centerpiece back, Sego, had 155 yards on 18 carries and on the season has 34 rushes for 430 yards. He also had an interception, as did teammate Karl Gerstner.
The Panthers intercepted Brandon Rogers three times, one of them returned 71 yards by Harris. Mitchell also recovered a fumble on the game’s first series and John McBain had a sack. The one downside for Kadena: It drew 12 penalties, five of them major, for 105 yards.
“We’ve taken two steps toward our goal,” Mendoza said. “We’re going to enjoy it tonight, but tomorrow morning, we get back to work.”
Rogers was a bright spot for the Mustangs (1-1), going 6-for-18 for 60 yards and had two returns for 24 yards.
“We’re going to put the nose to the grindstone and get back after it,” Seevers said. “There’s nothing else you can do.”