Sego-fueled Kadena turns tables on Kubasaki
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – They’d had enough, coach Sergio Mendoza said, of not only falling short of Kubasaki but not living up to their own expectations the last couple of years.
So, Justin Sego and Kadena did something about it. Sego piled up 422 all-purpose yards and scored five times and the Panthers rallied from a 13-point deficit to beat the Dragons 49-26 on Friday at Mike Petty Stadium.
“We’ve had a rough couple of years, but these guys knew they had a code to uphold,” said Mendoza, whose Panthers got their first win over the Dragons since their first meeting in 2011. “And I think they said enough’s enough, that it’s time to rise.”
Leading that rise was Sego, who rushed 19 times for 184 yards, including touchdowns of 22 yards on Kadena’s first possession, 3 yards in the third to give Kadena the lead for good and 17 in the fourth to make it 42-26. He caught two passes for 47 yards. But his return numbers were eye-poppers.
He took a fake-reverse kickoff return 84 yards for a touchdown, then took an interception back 36 yards for a score, both times without a hand laid on him. All told, he had six returns for 191 yards.
“He’s that caliber of player and he’s got that heart and he’s only a junior. He’s a very special kid,” Mendoza said. “He has an amazing heart and great character. The intangibles in that young man are completely there.”
Sego spoke of how the time had come for Kadena to come alive, especially against its island rivals. “We kind of talked to each other and realized we haven’t been playing up to what we should be playing up to,” he said. “We practiced harder, played harder, did everything we needed to do and won.”
Sego’s kick-return TD kick-started the Panthers’ rally and capped a first quarter which featured 34 points, almost twice as many in the first game the two played last month, which Kubasaki won 12-6.
The win came despite a heroic performance by Kubasaki senior back Jarrett Mitchell. He gained 199 yards on 14 carries in the first quarter alone before sitting the second with a pulled quadriceps in his left leg. He played the whole second half and finished with 293 yards on 25 carries and two TDs.
Barry Mitchell went 5-for-13 for 75 yards and rushed 14 times for 37 yards and a score, Devae Freeman added 34 yards and a touchdown on four attempts and JaMario Harris also had an interception for Kadena. D.J. Padilla and Preston Harris had one sack each.
Tyshon Butler rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown on seven carries for Kubasaki, Joe Cervantes was 5-for-15 for 66 yards and a score and Winston Maxwell had 123 total yards on 10 touches.
Kubasaki outgained Kadena 433-373 on offense, but Kadena held the total-yardage edge with 626 to 537.
“We got beat by a better team tonight,” Kubasaki coach Fred Bales said. “For four quarters, they were the better team than we were in all phases of the game. They blocked better. They tackled better. Their kicking game was stronger. They took advantage of our mistakes and they were deserving of the win tonight. They played a really, really good football game.”
With the Okinawa Activities Council season series level at 1-1, the teams play again on Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. at Kadena Air Base’s Ryukyu Middle School.