Third in a series of DODDS Pacific high school football team previews.
Given a first-weekend bye to open the Guam Interscholastic Football League last weekend, Jacob Dowdell decided to spend the weekend hopscotching around the league to see his Guam High Panthers’ future foes of the season.
He watched John F. Kennedy upset Father Duenas Memorial 14-12, when the Friars fumbled the ball away at the Islanders’ 1-yard line. He saw surprising Southern seize a 7-0 lead on Simon Sanchez, only to have the 17-man roster “gas out” in the second half as the Sharks rallied to beat the Dolphins 18-7.
This season, Dowdell has extra reason to scout his opponents. For after a three-season run in which Dowdell coached the Panthers to a 19-7 record and two IFL regular-season titles, the Panthers are starting over “from the ground up,” he said.
Almost any and every player who made significant contributions to the Panthers’ run is gone, including offensive stalwarts Lordan Aguon, Tegan Brown and Juwan Jacobs. “That’s 95 percent of the offense,” Dowdell said.
Perhaps the biggest thing Dowdell says he’ll miss from the Aguon years was the latter’s ability to behave as a coach on the field. In fact, for two seasons, Dowdell had pretty much left the play-calling to Aguon, duties Dowdell says he’ll have to resume, even with able senior transfer DeAndre Richardson moving in to play quarterback.
As a player for the Yokota Warriors of the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League, Dowdell quarterbacked a high-octane spread-option package, which he brought with him to Guam.
That’s being shelved this season, at least, in favor of a double tight-end, single wide-receiver set which Yokota’s high school team favors.
“That’s out of necessity,” Dowdell said. “We don’t have the weight, skill, size or football IQ” to run the spread option yet, with so many new faces.
“Hopefully, we can evolve into what I’m familiar with and what our size and skill level allows.”
Youth serves as both a strength and a drawback for the Panthers, Dowdell said. A strength because the young players are coachable and willing to learn. A weakness because of the lack of experience.
One area where the Panthers hope to shine is special teams, due to the presence of junior kicker Nick Anderson, a transfer from Miami. “He’s the best kicker I’ve seen on Guam,” Dowdell said. “The kicking is as good as we’ve ever had. Special teams will be a standout part of this team.”
The first test comes at 7 p.m. Saturday when the Panthers play Simon Sanchez at John F. Kennedy High School’s Ramsey Field in Upper Tumon.