Tuesday, August 25, 2015

As Wild As It Gets: Mononobe Breaks Out As Leafa Cruse

As Wild As It Gets: Mononobe Breaks Out As Leafa Cruse

By Carol Craftman
The Spirit News
August 30, 2076

Overlooked for years by his more established counterparts in the Lee brothers, Leafa College strong safety Ray Mononobe finally got his reward for his patience by earning the captaincy on defence for Season 2076. The end result for this week's match between Dan Harding's Leafa Spirit Gridiron and the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl Stadium? Eight tackles...and a personal-best four interceptions as the Spirit coasted to an easy 142-27 victory before a sellout crowd in Pasadena.

Offencively, sophomore quarterback Shae Katou-Aki began his long march to redemption, passing  for 269 yards and rushing for 457 yards while scoring nine total touchdowns under center. Halfback Brett Inohara used to be the main punt returner. Now he is getting his usual reps as the starting tailback, rushing for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Archer Hiiro's heir apparent may as well be Jack Fukushina. The main known as Jumpin' Jack Flash ran for 235 yards and four majors in relief duty.

The game saw another breakout performance, this time from a former defensive tackle. Steven Tove Lo Shen Dzu was moved to the right tackle position after being overlooked by other defensive tackles the past three season. His reward for choosing to stick it out saw him led the team in blocking with 26 pancake blocks. Wide receiver Jarryd Kaizuka, a converted halfback that was moved to wide out to add depth, had 24 pancakes, while Aki had 16 and fifth year senior Jackson Kaburaki had 11.

But perhaps the biggest breakout performance came from its young defense, namely middle linebacker Rhys Miyazawa. In just the first game, Miyazawa made a early push for the Dick Butkus Award with 29 tackles, including four for loss. Shaun Hijirikawa, the son of Cyan and a local product from Canberra, had three sacks while Steele Craftman added two. Outside linebacker Wes Narukami had two interceptions while three other players on defense had a pick apiece.

"I was very disappointed with the fumble we conceded," said Coach Harding after the game. "I told Jarryd, Ledley, Dana, Jiji and Cole this: fumbles after the catch are not acceptable on this team. You have to take the hit because you chose to play for this side and we hold all of you to a very high standard, a strict one as a result of how far we've gone in such a short time. Thankfully we had far more takeaways, but these types of mistakes will get me talking."

Leafa improve to 1-0 and continue their road trip against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.