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WARRIORS PERFECT IN REPEAT

A perfect ending to a perfect season. The Pepsi Warriors not only went undefeated during the 2014 MFL season, but dominated every opponent from season opener to championship game on their way to a repeat title.

By Mike Nauta Jr.

It all came down to one game in the 2014 Miller Football League as the IP&E Angels battled the defending-champion Pepsi Warriors last night at the Hal Shiroma Football Field in Dededo.  Each team came with a mission at hand.  For the Warriors in was about defending their championship and picking up their second-straight title.  Meanwhile, for the Angels it came down to snapping a long winning streak and snatching the Edward M. Calvo Memorial championship trophy from their opponents.

With the field lined with tons of supporters, both teams gave everyone lots to cheer in the league’s championship match.  When it was all said and done, it was the Warriors who blanked their opponents 26-0 to claim their second title in as many years.

Warriors QB Danny Manibusan tries to avoid being sacked by Angels defense. (photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors QB Danny Manibusan tries to avoid being sacked by Angels defense. (photo by Joey Blas)

“These are a great bunch of men on our team,” said an extremely happy Pepsi coach Loring Cruz.  “We are family amongst one another and we knew what we needed to do coming into this game.  The Angels are a great team and they did their homework, but we stuck to the game plan and eventually defended our title successfully.”

The Warriors immediately set the tone of the game at kickoff when eventual co-MVP Hosea Ware returned the ball for 32 yards early on.  Using their strength on the ground, Pepsi pounded positive yardage that continued to move the chains.  After several plays, the Warriors found themselves on a first and goal from the four-yard line.  The zero on the scoreboard turned into six when a pitch from Pepsi quarterback Danny Manibusan found Ware who cruised into the end zone for the touchdown.

IP&E looked to return the favor on their first offensive series that began on the 28-yard line.  The Angels managed to march the ball downfield and threatened to enter Pepsi’s domain.  However, great defensive stops by the Warriors forced their opponents to punt.

Things turned into a big defensive game for the remainder of the first half, as neither team was able to put points up for 11 straight minutes.  It wasn’t until after the four minute warning when the Pepsi offense awoke.  A monster 16-yard run by Ware gave Pepsi a first down inside Angel’s territory.  Three plays later, Manibusan connected with teammate Alejo Lujan for a 40-yard touchdown pass giving their team a 12-0 lead.  The opening half came to a close with the defending champs holding a two-possession lead.

“The entire first half came down to just executing on offense each time our defense did their job,” said Pepsi’s Manibusan.  “The Angels kept the game pretty tight early on and they had some great defensive stops on us.  We just stayed focused and continued to work hard.”

Warriors Jacob Torres receives the kick off and runs towards the sideline for a 25 yard punt return. (photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors Jacob Torres receives the kick off and runs towards the sideline for a 25 yard punt return. (photo by Joey Blas)

After returning from the halftime break, it was the Angels who got their chance on offense to get things going in the second-half.  The offensive series was short-lived after a pass attempt by starting quarterback Steve “S.P.” Phillips was picked-off by “Chairman of the Board” Ryan Rios.  Despite the turnover, the Warriors failed to convert for points.

The seesaw battle continued throughout the third quarter with neither team afforded the opportunity at scoring.  It wasn’t until the fourth and final quarter when fans witnessed the Pepsi team they were used to seeing.  What was once a 12-point game began to turn into a disaster for the Angels.  A 58-yard pass from Manibusan to Stephen “Juice” Santos upped the lead to 18-0.  The successful two-point conversion made it a 20-0 game.

As time on the clock dwindled down, the Angels just couldn’t find an answer offensively despite several good stops.  With less than three minutes left in the game, Pepsi put the “nail on the coffin” when Ware busted through the IP&E line for a three-yard touchdown run.  When the whistle signaling the end of the game was blown, it was the Warriors who celebrated their second-straight championship victory.

Warriors Dontana Keraskes stops angels running back Michael Pangelinan at the line of scrimmage. (photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors Dontana Keraskes stops angels running back Michael Pangelinan at the line of scrimmage. (photo by Joey Blas)

The Warriors were led by Ware and co-MVP Danny Manibusan as the two combined for two rushing TDs and two passing TDs respectively.

“Our team did superb tonight,” said Pepsi’s Rios.  “Last year it was about getting to the championship and winning it.  This year it was about defending the title and I can truly say that with a Warriors family like this it is a great feeling.”

The back-to-back champions also wanted to send out a special thank you and take care to three of their players who at least for the moment have played their last MFL game.  “Juice” Santos, Kellen Kawasaki, and Jeremiah San Nicolas will all be leaving island for one reason or another.

“To the boys that are heading out to school or a new career, you came as champions, your leaving as champions, and when you decide to come back home to Guam you’ll return as champions,” said Manibusan.

PHOTO GALLERY:

Warriors Casey Cruz goes up and intercepts a pass in the end zone for a touchback. (photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors Casey Cruz goes up and intercepts a pass in the end zone for a touchback. (photo by Joey Blas)

Angels Joaquin Pangelinan takes the handoff and runs it for a gain of 6 yards.(photo by Joey Blas)

Angels Joaquin Pangelinan takes the handoff and runs it for a gain of 6 yards.(photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors Linebacker Ryan Rios intercepts a pass from Angels QB Stephen Phillips and runs it back 15 yards in their own 30 yard line.(photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors Linebacker Ryan Rios intercepts a pass from Angels QB Stephen Phillips and runs it back 15 yards in their own 30 yard line.(photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors WR Alejo Lujan makes a nice grab in the enzone to put the warriors up by two Touchdowns.(photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors WR Alejo Lujan makes a nice grab in the enzone to put the warriors up by two Touchdowns.(photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors Jacob Torres receives the kickoff and runs the ball for a gain of 20 yards. (photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors Jacob Torres receives the kickoff and runs the ball for a gain of 20 yards. (photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors Johnny Borja makes the reception and runs the ball towards the sideline to complete the first down. (photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors Johnny Borja makes the reception and runs the ball towards the sideline to complete the first down. (photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors Jacob Torres receives the kick off and runs towards the sideline for a 25 yard punt return. (photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors Jacob Torres receives the kick off and runs towards the sideline for a 25 yard punt return. (photo by Joey Blas)

Angels Stephen Phillips runs towards the sideline and tries to get a pass off before being sacked in the backfield. (photo by Joey Blas)

Angels Stephen Phillips runs towards the sideline and tries to get a pass off before being sacked in the backfield. (photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors Hose Ware takes the handoff and runs it in for the TD. (photo by Joey Blas)

Warriors Hose Ware takes the handoff and runs it in for the TD. (photo by Joey Blas)

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After a star-studded collegiate career at UCLA, Bubba Nickles turns her focus on the Tokyo Olympics with Team USA after the Bruins were eliminated in the College World Series. Nickles endured a broken arm on April 7 and worked her way back into the Bruins lineup for the WCWS. She will go down as one of UCLA’s best softball players in its storied history.

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