Perry dumps Zama in final tuneup before title game
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan – Jarell Davis has been there since the beginning of Matthew C. Perry’s football-program reboot, two years as a non-varsity team and this year’s return to varsity status.
On Saturday, the senior gave the team a big payoff in his regular-season swan song, accumulating 203 all-purpose yards and scoring four times as the Samurai outdistanced Zama 27-12 in their homecoming game.
“He was a one-man wrecking crew,” coach Frank Macias said of Davis, who rushed 21 times for 91 yards and three touchdowns, caught a 52-yard TD pass, returned a kick 60 yards, had six tackles and a fumble recovery.
That performance helped Perry (5-1), playing its first season of varsity ball since 2003, capture the first title in school history.
The Samurai finished the DODDS Japan schedule 4-0 and Nile C. Kinnick was 3-0. They played an uneven number of games, but they share the DODDS Japan title by virtue of each having no losses.
“I’ll take it,” Macias said. “It’s all on the kids. They’ve worked hard and it’s been a three-year process (to get) where we are today.”
Where they will be Nov. 8 is hosting defending champion Daegu in the Far East Division II title game. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.
Saturday’s win came without running back Mick Carreiro, nursing an injured finger and held out by Macias as a precaution. Caeleb Ricafrente exited in the second quarter with a dinged-up shoulder. It was a precaution, Macias said, trying to stay healthy for Daegu.
“Zama was a very physical team,” Macias said. “It was a slugfest all the way. I want to keep (them) fresh for two weeks from now.”
The Trojans finished winless in seven games for the first time since 2008, the year before Zama began a run of four straight Division II title-game appearances.
Most of this season’s games were exercises in frustration, the Trojans taking a step forward and two back, starting drives only to have them short-circuited by penalties, bad plays or turnovers, coach Steven Merrell said.
“I don’t think anybody in our program imagined it would be anything like this,” he said. “We just couldn’t sustain. When you play this type of close games against Division II teams, makes it more frustrating. We’ll have to work on that moving forward.”
Kevin Groce returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown and Jaedon Baker had a 28-yard touchdown run for the Trojans.