Guam High celebrates playoff victory
AGAT, Guam — No more wondering whether Guam High can win a game in a Guam Interscholastic Football League season.
The question now is how long it can keep playing.
The Panthers made it past the first round of the IFL playoffs on Saturday, edging Guam International Christian Academy 18-12 at Southern High. It’s their furthest advance in the postseason in school history.
“We’re very happy, of course,” said offensive coordinator Steve Hollister, who saw his team score three rushing touchdowns on Saturday, one each by P.J. Guerrero, Tory Curtis and All-Island senior Theo Tom.
That lifted the Panthers into a semifinal battle against top-seeded and defending champion Father Duenas Memorial at 3 p.m. Saturday at John F. Kennedy High School.
Guam High (4-2-1) went 3-13 its two previous seasons, but the Panthers now have the best mark in school history. The difference this fall?
“Our school had gotten too used to losing. They needed to learn how to win again,” said Hollister, in his first year with the team.
The Panthers won a postseason game for the first time since 2000, when they defeated John F. Kennedy 32-20 in the IFL’s fifth-place playoff game. Guam High finished 3-4 that year.
The Panthers “have worked hard [to] put respectability back into the program. We wanted to put the atmosphere back in it. We wanted to win. We’re very happy with the team,” said Hollister.
The success has people taking notice, Hollister added. “Now, we have people watching our practices. Last spring, it was ‘If we win a game.’ Now, it’s ‘How far can we go?’”
The Panthers never trailed Saturday, going up 6-0 on Curtis’ 7-yard run in the second quarter. The final period was full of action, when the Gators rallied to tie it, fell behind by two touchdowns and nearly came back a second time.
Jason Landstrom’s 15-yard catch from Eddie Crisostomo knotted the contest, before Tom put the Panthers ahead to stay with an 18-yard TD run. Guerrero’s 2-yard burst capped the scoring, following a 35-yard run on a fake punt by Tom that set up first-and-goal at the 2.
Landstrom cut the final margin to six with an 8-yard TD catch from Chris Landstrom.
It was a far cry from Guam High’s 36-0 victory over GICA on Oct. 18.
“We knew we were playing the last-place team,” Hollister said. “We went in overconfident, it turned into a hard game, it almost bit us in the butt.”
They certainly can’t afford that against the unbeaten Friars. “We have to be really fired up for this,” Hollister said. “It will be a tough game.”