By Robert Balajadia
It was a messy and muddy win, but the GW Geckos are once again moving on to the semifinals after beating the JFK Islanders 16-0 at the Geckos field Tuesday night.
Last week Friday’s IIAAG football opening round playoff game between the GW Geckos and JFK Islanders got rescheduled due to an unexpected amount of rain and flooding. They resumed action on Tuesday night, but the rain seemed to precede the game as well.
The Geckos relied on a late touchdown drive, led by All-Island linebacker Kelvin Hocog, to defeat the Islanders in their regular season meeting. This time around, the Geckos shut down the JFK offense in every aspect to set up a big showdown against the Guam High Panthers this coming weekend.
“We were better prepared and more rested this time. In the beginning, the guys were very hype. I always give speeches through the end, but today they took it to heart and really came together,” stated Geckos head coach Ryan Rios on his teams play.
Geckos Isaiah Tydingco got GW on the board in the second quarter after scoring on a five-yard draw play. Anselmo Untalan punched in a 2-point conversion to go up 8-0, a lead the Geckos would hold on to until late in the fourth quarter.
It was a pressure situation for JFK with half the fourth quarter gone while being pressed behind their 20-yard line. The Islander front seven came up big and stuffed Geckos All-Island Utility Player Hank Sablan on two straight downs which forced the Geckos to attempt a field goal. The kick was wide left which gave the Islander offense a chance to tie the game.
JFK quarterback Quintin Iriarte was struggling early in the game so the Islanders relied on honorable mention utility offensive player running back Jared Hernden to carry them on their 80-yard venture for a game tying touchdown. However, the Islanders were stuffed by the Geckos defense led by Hocog to force the Islanders into a late game punt.
The Geckos needed another score to put the game out of reach and Sablan rose to the occasion.
Sablan took a direct snap in the shotgun formation 22 yards, just three away from a touchdown, with under four minutes left to play. GW went back to Sablan on the next play to extend the score 16-0 after another 2-point conversion from Untalan.
“Whenever we need a first down we give the ball to Hank. The way Hank runs, he leads by example. Kelvin is the leader and he’ll do anything for the team. He doesn’t think twice, if you say we need it, he’ll do it,” stated Rios on his teams two versatile stars.
Iriarte hit a couple of passes in the final minutes to Kurtis Silva and Jarred Hernden, but was picked off by the Geckos secondary on the final play to officially end the game.
The Islanders turned in an impressive season after last seasons woes. Rios and the Geckos would be the first to admit that the Islanders look like a different team.
“JFK is a good squad and I give big ups to that coaching staff. To get that team turned around like that, I’m really proud of their coaching staff,” complimented Rios.
The semifinal match ups this coming weekend will be:
GW #4 vs. Guam High #1
Okkodo #6 vs. Sanchez #2
Rios and the Geckos will have a short rest before having to play Guam High this weekend, but the veteran coach has been through enough situations in his tenure and will have his boys ready to play.
Rios commented saying, “It’s all basics. We always make sure our X’s and O’s are covered. I’ve been to a lot of championship games and the two-week-bye is a hard thing to bite. To come back and play? You get complacent on a two-week-bye. I’d rather be playing week-by-week than two weeks later.”
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