Things learned at Yokota football camp
Fourth in a series of quick hits on high school football practices around the Pacific.
Given Yokota’s football pedigree (31 Kanto Plain titles, 13 DODDS Japan titles, five Rising Sun Bowl championships, two Division I titles), it’s rare to see the Panthers sport records below .500 in back-to-back seasons. That hasn’t happened since the two seasons before Tim Pujol took the coaching reins in 1999.
Pujol is hoping a solid complement of 13 returning starters from last year’s 3-4 squad can help lead the Panthers back into winning-record territory. And possibly earn the right to represent Japan in the Far East Division II title game in the school’s first football season as a D-II squad.
A two-headed quarterback could go a long way toward accomplishing that, if pedigree means anything. Senior transfer Ty Dotson played for 2014 DODDS Europe D-I champion Ramstein and possesses a solid arm to complement fellow senior Marcus Henagan, one of the last holdovers from Yokota’s last DODDS Pacific D-I title team and more of a running quarterback.
While the line isn’t as massive as the group of five that paced Yokota to the D-I crown in 2011 and 2012, it’s solid enough to create open space for a backfield loaded with experience in juniors Shota Sprunger and Shomari Tindal and senior Jamarvin Harvey.
As has been the case with several D-II programs over the years, Yokota will more than likely venture from its ground-pounding comfort zone and show some spread option, given the arm strength of Dotson. And while Henagan’s strong suit is running, he can also air out the ball.
DODDS Japan’s D-II title-game representative travels to Korea, which holds host rights to the contest scheduled for Nov. 7. But Pujol says he’s not looking that far ahead, simply wanting to do better in the regular season first before counting on any title shots.