By Jesse Pinkston Santos
The two-time defending IIAAG football champions, Sanchez Sharks, came from behind and never looked back, starting the season with a victory over the Southern Dolphins. Despite the fact that the Dolphins haven’t won a game in nearly three seasons, they came out looking strong in the 18-7 loss.
In the Sharks’ opening drive, junior Mitchell Igcasenza broke free and drove down to the 45-yard line but the Sharks fumbled on the very next play, recovered by Dolphins senior, Tatian Grajo. The Dolphins pushed for back-to-back first downs and Corey Duenas went right up the middle to the 16-yard line, giving the Dolphins great scoring range. With 6:50 left in the first quarter, quarterback, Dominick Flores kept the ball, swept left to the end zone, giving Southern their first and only score of the game. The point after kick was good, giving them the 7-0 led, but not for long.
The Sharks found themselves at 4th-and-2, deciding to go for it, Igcasenza broke free again and scored, putting the Sharks behind by one. They tried to go for two but Napu Topasna deflected the pass. Southern was penalized for roughing the passer, giving the Sharks another chance but they failed to convert. The Dolphins finished the first half leading 7-6.
High hopes were in store for the upstart Dolphins as they marched down the field to add to their slim lead in the third quarter, only to lose possession from a fumble that was recovered by Sanchez’s Roland Miligracia.
A pitch to the speedy Eric Reyes brought the ball down to the 4-yard line. A quick handoff to Igcasenza put them in the endzone and in the lead. After another failed point after attempt, the Sharks finished the third quarter, 12-7 but lost their quarterback Devin Leon, due to a neck injury on the attempt.
Although the Dolphins were down, they kept pushing forward. With a 3rd and long, Topasna juked a defender and with great blocking, gave them a much-needed first down. Their running game proved to be somewhat effective but the Sharks quickly caught on and eventually got the ball back on downs. With a 4th and 6 situation, Sharks’ captain Matthew Sojo faked the punt to bring his team to their 20-yard line. Reyes’ bootleg to the right, straight to the end zone, gave the Sharks the 18-7 win.
The Dolphins stopped the point after but with less than two minutes to play, the Dolphins couldn’t make it to the end zone, losing a hard fought battle.
Sharks first-time player, running back Mitchell Igcasenza, decided to play because of friend and teammate Matthew Sojo, picking up his first win as a football player. When asked about the outlook of the season, he commented, “Just play hard and do it right, get your blocks, run the ball and play smart.” He’s looking forward to playing the GW Geckos because they were the Sharks’ number one competitors last year.
Sharks head coach Jimmy Nahalowaa feels they have a lot of work to do this season.
“We lost our whole backfield, we lost half our line, and with that, that’s half our defense because they all went both ways. There’s a lot of work.”
Despite losing much of his team, Nahalowaa and the Sharks start the season off 1-0 and will take on Guam High at Okkodo on Saturday, August 30. The Dolphins drop to 0-1 and will play at GW on Friday, August 29.
GPS Sports Calendar