Could Red Devils go from contenders to ultimate winners?
Stars and Stripes | .
published: August 29, 2016
Fifth in a series of DODEA-Pacific football team season previews.
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – A key component in any Daniel Joley-coached team in his seven years at Nile C. Kinnick has been how well the quarterback manages Joley’s spread-option offense.
Joley says he has every confidence that Kacey Walker, a junior in his second year at the controls, can be not just a game-manager, but can thrive in that offense and help Kinnick go where no Red Devils team has gone before.
“Kacey is very solid. He likes to run the option,” said Joley of Walker, a former Far East Division I Baseball Tournament Most Valuable Pitcher, charged with getting the Red Devils to their first Far East D-I football title game.
Walker is the second quarterback Joley has spoken this highly of when it comes to running the spread, following in the footsteps of Dustin Wilson, who graduated two years ago.
“In terms of understanding the offense, yes, Kacey’s there,” Joley said, comparing him to Wilson. “He’s got a real good feel for things. He’s ‘getting’ the option.”
Still, “he’s still a junior,” Joley said. “He needs some guidance on the tempo of the offense, trusting his emotions. But I trust Kacey a lot. He reads defensive coverage well. He’s a baseball player; he likes to throw the ball.”
Walker will have plenty of weapons to use to make the offense diverse, Joley said, in speedy senior back Chauncey Jamerson and grind-it-out junior Harry Cheng. “Our team speed with Chauncey is going to be pretty fun to watch,” Joley said.
Opening things up at receiver and slot backs will be returners Devaney Stanley and Darius Swenson.
And though big line studs Alaka’i Warford and Chris Deibel are only memories, the Red Devils do return some big beefy guys, including seniors Kento Jenista, Jamar Hargress and Dwayne Lyon, along with junior Josh Brotherton at defensive end.
One championship ingredient new to the Kinnick interior is Josh Weatherford, a senior who transferred from Daegu.
He’s used to winning titles, having been on the Warriors roster the last three years, all Division II championship seasons.
The big question is: Can the Red Devils put behind them the heartbreak that’s seen them come up short the last few years, especially 2013 and 2014, when they won back-to-back DODEA-Japan titles?
“We’ve been contending,” Joley said, at least until facing the Okinawa teams that have played for the D-I title the last three years. Kinnick fell to Kadena 51-13 and to Kubasaki 49-7 last year.
“It’s been an injury here, a missed play there, a letdown there,” Joley said. “I think all the Division I teams are equal this year. There was a sour taste toward the end of last season when we finished and we’re going to look to rectify that a little bit and we’re going to build on it game by game and see where it takes us.”
Perhaps to the D-I title game on Nov. 12? “If we stay focused, learn the offense, give it 100 percent in practice,” Walker said.