MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
For the first time since 2004, the Matthew C. Perry High School Samurai football team suited up in pads, jerseys and helmets. American football, a long-missed sport aboard the station has finally made its return.
With only six days of practice under their belts, the Samurai scrimmaged against the Sotoku High School Fighting Ducks football team from Hiroshima, Japan, after completing a twoday summer camp at the M.C. Perry High School football field here Aug. 19, 2012.
“I thought we were quite competitive, considering they have been practicing for a year and some of those kids have been together for three years,”said Frank Macias, Samurai head coach. “They play semi-pro and college teams as well. We are a brand new program. For most of these kids, this is the first time they have ever hit somebody.”
Although the Samurai did not win the scrimmage against the Fighting Ducks, their coaches and the players themselves were not disappointed.
“I will tell you what I told them,” said Macias. “I am very proud of their effort, I mean effort is not something you can coach, you either are going to give your 100 percent or you’re not. They did. I am very proud of them for that.”
Football, for many people, is a sport which causes both mental and physical challenges to its players.
“I’m stoked.”said Connor Hadlock, 17, Samurai center and defensive end. “I like playing football. I started in eighth grade and only got to play in ninth grade, then I moved here and we didn’t have it. There are only a few sports that I actually enjoy playing, the most active ones, and not having football, it killed my sophomore and junior years. So, I am definitely excited that my senior year we get to play football.”
While there are many plays and techniques taught during the practices, giving max effort and having heart during every play are two things which cannot be taught.
“Out of everyone, we are small, but the group of guys we have, we have the heart for it,” said Hadlock. “We are going to push it and we are going to show them that Perry is not forgotten.”
The season begins Sept. 1, 2012.
“I think it was fun,” said Junya Yamamoto, Fighting Ducks wide receiver. “We usually don’t get to play against Americans.”
The Japanese are not the only ones who feel this way. The Samurai cannot wait to officially start the season and show what they have been working on.
“I think it is good that we can play Japanese teams and not just against the other bases,” said Hadlock. “It shows that while we are in Japan we are not stuck in our American ways, and we can still go out and enjoy Japanese culture and everything like that. Just seeing them out here and the way they are doing things, it is completely different.”