Kadena's Alfonso Mendez tries to fend off American School In Japan's Nash Rasmussen. DAVE ORNAUER/STARS AND STRIPES
Kadena's Alfonso Mendez tries to fend off American School In Japan's Nash Rasmussen. DAVE ORNAUER/STARS AND STRIPES

Football: Kadena clinches spot in finals by beating ASIJ

by Dave Ornauer
Stars and Stripes

TOKYO – Alfonso Mendez continuing his red-hot rushing attack was very much expected. What probably wasn’t was a relentless Kadena defense led by Jace Salas.

The junior defensive lineman recorded five tackles for losses, including a sack, while Mendez ran for 249 yards and two touchdowns as the Panthers clinched a spot in the Far East Division I football final and all but wrapped up host rights by downing American School In Japan 34-6 on Saturday.

“He’s one of those upperclassmen who’s stepping up, and each week he’s getting better and better,” coach Sergio Mendoza said of Salas. “He had some big stops today on defense. It’s in his blood.”

Reaching Far East finals are very much in Kadena’s blood. The Panthers have now earned berths in 12 of the 15 Division I finals, including the last seven, but have not hosted the title game since 2013, when they lost to Kubasaki 34-31 in overtime.

Read more at: https://www.stripes.com/1.600906

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