Kinnick romps over Zama to sew up Kanto crown
NAVAL BASE YOKOSUKA, Japan -- For the first time since 1998, Nile C. Kinnick has claimed the Kanto Plain championship following the Devils’ 45-6 homecoming victory Friday over Zama.
The win also sealed the team’s third DODEA-Japan title in four years.
Kinnick running back Chauncey Johnson capped two drives with a pair of trips to the end zone and versatile athlete Devoney Stanley recorded two interceptions and a 75-yard kickoff return touchdown.
Despite falling just short of a Division I title shot, head coach Dan Joley said that he “couldn’t be prouder” of his team’s effort throughout the season.
“We’re two touchdowns short of a Far East championship game invite, but these kids never gave up and never put their heads down,” Joley said. “They fought hard and played like they wanted the title. They played like champions.”
A six-headed Red Devil rushing attack, led by quarterback Kacee Walker and running back Harry Cheng, gained all of Kinnick’s 540 offensive yards. Walker accounted for 150 of those yards while leading all rushers and Cheng pitched in a score to go with his 125 yards.
Despite winds gusting up to 20 mph and showers gradually growing stronger as the game wore on, the Devils never turned the ball over, recorded three takeaways and blocked a punt inside Zama’s 20-yard line.
“Where I’m from [in Indiana], they say if you’re playing football in the snow, you’re doing something right,” Joley said. “This is about as close to playing in snow as we’re going to get in this part of the world right now, so I’ll take it.”
Joley hopes this year’s Kanto championship title will motivate his players next year to make the leap to Far East.
“We’re a young team and I’m hoping that we’ll be returning a lot of players next season,” Joley said. “I’m so proud of everything these kids have accomplished.”