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SET FOR A SEMIFINAL SHOWDOWN

The top four teams of the IIAAG 2014 football season will take the field Saturday with the GW Geckos hosting the Okkodo Bulldogs at their newly renovated track in Mangilao and the JFK Islanders will host the FD Friars, whom they defeated on opening weekend.

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By Robert Balajadia

The top four teams of the IIAAG 2014 football season will take the field Saturday with the GW Geckos hosting the Okkodo Bulldogs at their newly renovated track in Mangilao and the FD Friars traveling to JFK where they suffered just one of their only two losses all season long.

GW managed to attain the top seed in the league going undefeated in the regular season which prompted them a first round playoff bye. GSPN caught up with Geckos head coach Ryan Rios to discuss the BYE week in preparation for the semifinal games.

Rios explained that the Geckos are going to benefit from, “the recovery and extra practice time,” also saying that his team does have a few “sprained ankles and body aches.”

“It’s very hard to coach players are catching up with school work and things at home,” stated Rios on what else the BYE week has had in store.

The Geckos were the only team not playing in the quarterfinals, though Rios admitted that he would rather have had his team on the field.

“You always want to play, that’s the way to learn, but going in to the playoffs you want to dissect the other teams and fix all your problems going in.”

The Bulldogs and Geckos were the only two teams that didn’t meet through out the course of the 2014 season, though facing them in the playoffs will not be too unfamiliar with the Bulldogs defense being orchestrated by one of his former players.

“Justin Cruz (Bulldogs defensive coach) is my former player and champion from our first championship so he coaches with the same philosophy. That team also has a lot of speed, we’ve been watching them through the regular season.”

Geckos Meet Bulldogs For First Time In 2014

Geckos Record: (5-0)

Bulldogs Record: (4-2)

The Okkodo Bulldogs, behind the newly named “Shocker Defense”, rendered the Sanchez Sharks scoreless while posting up 22 points to advance to the semifinals.

The regular season meeting between the two teams was postponed to due an issue with the field lights in the opening week and neither team were able to meet in the regular season to register a game. At seasons end, the win or loss between the two teams would not have changed the standings in any way so the IIAAG elected to forgo the game.

Bulldogs quarterback/linebacker Leeray Zapatos did just about everything on both sides of the ball. Zapatos converted on big pass plays which resulted in touchdowns and forced a couple of turnovers to catapult the Bulldogs to their largest post season win in their schools existence.

The Geckos haven’t taken the field since being awarded both the offensive and defensive MVP’s in Hank Sablan and Kelvin Hocog, so expect both players aiming to live up to their recently honored titles against the Bulldogs.

Okkodo plays fast on defense with a lot of speed in the secondary from Adrian Whitfield to Mark Lao and a sure tackler in linebacker Jesse Carl Cruz. The defense, also pioneered by Zapatos, could present matchup problems for the Geckos and Zapatos’ offensive capabilities could turn the tide in Okkodo’s favor.

The Geckos strength can come from many different areas with Sablan running the ball, Brenden Santos throwing the ball, or even Hocog creating turnovers on the defense. The Geckos presented no real weakness throughout the season aside from a couple of games where they started slow on offense.

The Geckos have openly accepted that they are a 4th quarter team and GW will be playing with a lot of confidence if the game is close come the final period.

Will purple and gold make it back to the finals or is Okkodo primed for their first title appearance? A good two-hour block of football on Saturday can only tell.

Islanders Aim To Repeat Season Opener

Islanders Record: (6-1)

Friars Record: (5-2)

Regular Season Meeting: JFK 14, FD 12

It was the beginning of a season turn around when the Islanders beat the Friars in the opening week and both teams will meet again where it all started, at the Islanders field in Tamuning.

The Islander defense came alive and quarterback Quintin Iriarte tossed two touchdowns showing flashes of how exciting their team has become.

The Friars fell by two points, but the team did have a chance to tie the game on a 2-point conversion that was dropped in the end zone. Freshman running back De’Aundre Cruz officially got recognized in the IIAAG after scoring the teams first touchdown.

JFK survived a scare from the Guam High Panthers in the quarterfinals as the Panthers rallied to tie the game at half-time. JFK settled down on defense and powered through the second half to give them their first post season win in recent years.

The Friars had a much easier time than expected after ousting the Southern Dolphins 41-6 as both teams battled tough in the first half. Southern committed costly turnovers in the second half and the Friars took complete advantage.

FD’s defense has improved immensely from week 1, but so has the Islanders. The Friars got a big lift from quarterback Jujuan King in the win against the Dolphins as he threw for a season best two touchdown passes. Islanders Danon Mojica has become the work horse for JFK, but their vertical game is going to be well present with Iriarte at the helm.

The Islanders will be looking to repeat the success of their first meeting while the Friars are out to exact revenge as the winner advances to the championship game.

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