Guam High looking to make playoff run
Brandon Miller feels his Guam High football team is a playoff contender. The question is in which playoff will the Panthers contend.
Guam High’s regular-season league, the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam, has doubled the football schedule for the coming season, which begins Friday.
The league’s six teams each play 10 games, with the regular season running until Nov. 3. The top four teams qualify for the island playoffs, which begin Nov. 10 and conclude with the Bamboo Bowl on Nov. 17.
Assuming the Panthers reach the island playoffs, that would conflict with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific’s Far East Class AA playoffs.
In that system, Guam High gets a free pass into the Nov. 3 semifinals – a day after it is scheduled to end the IIAAG season against George Washington. If Guam High wins its semifinal, it will play in the Class AA championship on Nov. 10, the day the IIAAG playoffs begin.
Should such a conflict arise, Miller, Guam High administration and other DODDS officials say the Panthers will opt to play in the Class AA playoffs.
“We do take our Far Easts seriously,” Guam High assistant principal Deborah Krull said. “We’re looking forward to hosting and playing in the Far East playoffs.”
Since 2002, the IIAAG played a single round-robin schedule with all six teams making the playoffs. Prior to that, the league played a double round-robin slate, some years with playoffs, others without.
IIAAG vice president and schedule maker Martin Boudreau said most of the football-playing schools wanted a longer schedule and more games, even if it meant the season conflicting with IIAAG’s second quarter, which begins Oct. 19 and includes boys soccer. League rules bar athletes from participating in more than one sport at a time.
As for Guam High, Boudreau said he wouldn’t speculate on what might happen “until I hear something from them,” he said. “Guam High has not mentioned anything about Far East to the league. … Guam High is totally aware of the schedule. They have not mentioned any problems.”
Guam High officials confirmed they’d not spoken with Boudreau about the issue, indicating each side was taking a “cross the bridge when we get to it” tack.
Miller’s was one of the voices which spoke up in favor of a double round-robin schedule. “I was for it, regardless,” he said.
Miller echoed Krull’s statement about supporting the Far East playoffs first, even if it means Guam High must forfeit its regular-season finale at George Washington on Nov. 2 so it could host the DODDS-Japan champion on Nov. 3 in the Class AA semifinals.
“If we have to forfeit a game, and we can only play for third place, we’ll understand that,” Miller said. “We love the league. We take it seriously. But we’re guests in the league. We understand that.”
If nothing else, Miller would enjoy having Guam High prove that last season’s deep run into the playoffs – the Panthers lost 22-20 to Simon Sanchez in the third-place game – was no fluke.
Miller calls Guam High’s 14-7 upset of perennial power Father Duenas Memorial last Sept. 9 a “starting point. It showed that we could win,” he said.
Much of the team’s depth lies in the interior, including senior linemen Paul Salgado, Anthony Barfield and linebacker Tim Hernandez. Bolstering the ranks is senior Ryan Ford, an All-Europe tackle and defensive end from Rota, Spain, who’s being looked at for Division I-A scholarships.
“But nobody’s going to hand anything to us,” Miller said. “We learned we could win. We have to win consistently. It’s very realistic.”
Reaching the Class AA championship or an IIAAG placement game would “still be a step up from last year” when the Panthers went 3-6.
“If everything goes well, we’ll still get in it. We’ll be one of the top four. We have a good coaching staff, we’re motivated and headed in the right direction,” Miller said