Perry hoping experience offsets thin numbers
Stars and Stripes | .
published: September 06, 2016
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan – It’s not as if Matthew C. Perry is lacking in experienced football players; the Samurai have quite a few players with plenty of hours on the field last season – 15 to be exact, 14 of them starters.
It’s just a question of what happens if some of them have to stay on the sidelines for some reason. For coach Frank Macias says with just seven additional players on the roster, there’s little margin for error. Or injuries, to be more specific.
“There’s been a lot of turnover and nobody coming in” to replace them, Macias said. The Samurai had hoped for an influx of new bodies with the impending move of units from the Tokyo area to Iwakuni, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Frank Macias is in his third year as coach of Matthew C. Perry as a varsity football program. He says he feels the Samurai have as experienced a team as they've had in that span. But with just 22 players, they're an injury or three away from problems.
Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes
“It’s a safety issue. Everything seems to get pushed back. There are a lot of new buildings, but nobody in them,” Macias said. “I’m a little concerned. It’s a worry. We have a great coaching staff, and on the first day of practice, they look at me like, ‘This is it?’”
It’s also a young roster, with just six seniors. Three of them, however, line up in the interior, including two-way anchor Lucas Holsopple, who will help escort returning senior running back Caeleb Ricafrente and junior Zach Brown, and protect junior quarterback Garrett Macias.
The question being, will that be enough to replace the departures of line mainstays Austin Macias and R.J. Bolduc? Plus, the Samurai lost triple-threat Tyson Moore, as dangerous at returning and defense as he was at receiver.
“I’m sure next year, the numbers won’t be a problem. Unless things get delayed again,” Macias said.
As a freshman, Garrett Macias helped lead the Samurai to the Far East Division II championship game, which they lost 60-50 to Daegu.
“That was an exciting game,” said the younger Macias on Monday, standing on the same field where the game took place.
He and his father spoke excitedly of the experience dotting the roster, what the coach termed the most veteran blood he’s had in the three years since Perry returned to varsity football after a nearly 10-year absence.
“We have the experience. We have the tools,” the elder Macias said. “We have some great kids with great attitudes, despite the low numbers.”
Just how excited is the younger Macias to step back on the gridiron despite the thin roster?
Over the summer, he spent nearly two months playing 28 games combined with two baseball teams in California, catching almost all of them.
After those tournaments were done, he’d had enough. “I was ready to just put the glove down and play football again,” he said.
It’s Japan’s turn, this being an even-numbered year, to host the D-II title game. With any luck, the Samurai could host again, coach and quarterback say. “It’s a question of everybody staying healthy and what everybody else has,” Frank Macias said.