Set! Hut! Pads crash, bodies hit each other and only the whistle stops them. The Daegu American High School Warriors football team practices in the heat of Daegu's summer in preparation for another exciting season. DAS, the smallest school participating in the small school Far East Championship, has only about 200 students and 25 players on their team. But sometimes size isn't everything. The Warriors are the defending champions of Korea and fell only one game short of holding the title of Far East champions. "That speaks volumes on how much these kids have heart, especially considering how big the opponent schools are," said Ken Walter, DAS football team head coach. Some of the schools are five, six times larger in student size but even with such a disadvantage, Walter expects this team not only to defend their Korean title but also to become the Far East Champions. The players have set high expectations for themselves, their coaches and also the local community. "We get support from colonels, the chaplain and the general, and because of their support, the boys have their Korean championship rings," said Walter.
With a seasoned coaching staff on the sidelines and a bit more maturity from the players, Luke Spencer, Warriors defensive coordinator, aims to fulfill their high expectations by executing aggressive defense, limiting opponents to under 150 yards and causing as many turnovers as possible.
It's surprising to think that the Warriors struggled even to win two years ago. In just one year, they have managed to beat much bigger schools as the underdogs. Moreover, the DAS Warriors are becoming a powerhouse in the small school Far East competition. Walter attributes the quick turnaround of the program to good leadership by the coaching staff, but most importantly to the players.
"The kids have been taking the coaching very well, working hard and showing a lot of heart," said Walter. Well with all the hard work and heart the Warriors have demonstrated in the past year, that Far East champion might not be so elusive this year.