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FRIARS, PANTHERS MOVE ON TO TITLE GAME

Guam High edges GW in thriller; FD shuts out Southern

By Jay Leon Guerrero

The Father Duenas Friars and the Guam High Panthers will face off in the 2023 ISA High School Football League Championship Game next week. The Panthers held off the GW Geckos 36-35 in the game of the season. The top-seeded Friars pitched yet another shutout in eliminating the fifth seed Southern Dolphins 27-0 at the GW Field.

The big game will be Saturday night at GW at 7 pm and will be broadcast live on www.guamsportsnetwork.com!

Guam High 36, GW 35
With several lead changes, the GW vs. Guam High game went down to the wire. GW led 20-14 at halftime, and the fans watching at Guam High were treated to some good football in the third and fourth quarter.

Guam High’s Aaron Johnson tied the game at 20-20 with a quarterback keeper to get things started in the second half. GW quarterback Jaydin Duenas threw a 40-yard touchdown to Kaden Apiag to put the Geckos back ahead 27-20.

The Panthers immediately responded with Johnson rushing in from 18 yards. Guam High’s two-point conversion from Donte Parker to Cameron Brantley put Guam High up 28-27.

Justin Sablan, Jr. scored from one yard out in the fourth quarter to put GW back ahead. Sablan followed up with a two-point conversion to push the GW lead to 35-28.

The four-minute warning was indicated by the referee, and everyone was at the edge of their seats. Guam High capitalized on a late hit penalty by GW and entered Gecko territory.

Moments later, Parker broke three tackles and rushed in for a 21-yard score. At this point, GW was still ahead 35-34. The two-point conversion was needed to win the game.

The Panthers went to Johnson, who rushed in for the conversion and the game winner to punch the Panthers’ ticket to the championship game with the 36-35 victory.

“We just got to keep our minds focused,” Johnson said about facing the Friars in the title game. “We just got to do what we do and keep our heads together.”

A hard-fought battle in the semifinal game between the Guam High Panthers and GW Geckos left both teams with much respect for one another after a 36-35 classic. (photo by Jojo Santo Tomas)

FD 27, Southern 0
The Dolphins came to play as they always do and forced FD to punt on their first three possessions. The Friar defense, however, made things difficult for the Dolphins as well, as the game was scoreless 0-0 after the first quarter.

The Friars ended up scoring in the second quarter with Offensive MVP Alex Sojo taking the lead.

Sojo made a Patrick Mahomes-like pass, scrambling to his left with Dolphin defenders closing in. Sojo found his favorite target,Trey Blas, for a 21-yard touchdown.

Sojo got hit hard during the pass play and was unable to take the field for the kick (Sojo is also FD’s kicker), and the Friars went to a two-point conversion try that failed. The score was 6-0 at halftime.

The Dolphins special teams pinned the Friars to their 3-yard line after a nice punt by Ethan Guerrero in the third quarter.

With their backs on their own end zone, a bad snap seemed like the Dolphins might get another safety. Sojo made a heads-up play and picked up the ball five yards in his own end zone and ran down the left sideline for a touchdown. Officially, the touchdown was a 97-yard score. The kick was successful, and the score was 13-0 in favor of the Friars.

In the fourth quarter, the Friars scored twice: a Sojo to Blas 14-yard score and a 26-yard rush by Javin Meno to go ahead 27-0.

Southern was down, but not out. The Dolphins continued to play hard and nearly scored after quarterback Mike Jesus found Ethan Guerrero for a 57-yard connection. Christian Manglona made a touchdown-saving tackle to keep Guerrero out of the end zone.

With the Dolphins in the red zone, the Friar defense remained cool, calm, and collected and ended the game with Hyan Mesa making an interception to stop the drive and end the game.

The Friar defense, again, did not give up a point, and the defense was anchored by Vance Meno with 6.5 tackles and Tristan Burgos with 5.5 tackles. Burgos also had a sack and blocked a punt for FD.

“We have to practice on starting the game better,” said Burgos. “We also have to work on a better mindset going into the championship game.”

FD linebacker Chase Artero had three tackles and a forced fumble. “This is our last week of practice, and we all need to be more focused so we can prepare for Guam High,” said Artero.

The main event is set! The Friars will put their undefeated streak on the line and will look to continue their dynasty. In their way, the Guam High Panthers who will look to avenge a 33-0 loss in the regular season. The Panthers will be making adjustments, and their dynamic offense will once again test the league’s best defense. Get your popcorn ready football fans! 

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COMING SOON …

Guam Track & Field National Championship May 26

All-Island Wrestling Alumni Tournament June 8

10th Micronesian Games from Marjuro

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