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For the second straight year, Guam High’s football squad opened on a winning note – a first in the school’s 10-year history.

The Panthers beat the John F. Kennedy Islanders 23-0 on Saturday at Naval Station’s Blue Jacket Field, and for now can take satisfaction knowing they are Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam’s first-place team — though not alone.

Father Duenas Memorial, which shut out Southern 22-0 in Saturday’s other game, and Simon Sanchez High School also share the honor.

“This feels great, especially with all the work we’ve put in,” Panthers special teams coach James Duff said by telephone. “These kids have been living football, and all the hard work is starting to pay off.”

Guam High’s season began much the way last year’s did, when the Panthers surprised perennial-league power Father Duenas 14-7 last Sept. 1.

It was only the third time the Panthers opened their season victorious; Guam High began the 1999 season by shutting out JFK 47-0.

“We came out excited and we wanted to show everybody that we’re a different team,” first-year head coach Brandon Miller told the Pacific Daily News. “We’re going to take this win with excitement, but we’re still going to keep our eyes open on the other teams.”

Quarterback Paul Cramins accounted for all three Panthers touchdowns, sneaking in from 1 yard out and tossing two scoring passes, including a 65-yard bomb to Chris Brown in the first quarter.

Ryan Ford, the Panthers’ senior transfer from Rota High in Spain, booted three extra points and recorded two sacks. Brown added four tackles. Guam High also benefited from a safety when the Islanders snapped the ball out of the end zone on a punting down.

“This is just the beginning, no doubt,” Duff said. “This team has the potential to have an outstanding season and be in contention” for a Far East Class AA championship.

Guam High will try to run its record to 2-0 in Saturday’s upcoming showdown against Simon Sanchez at John F. Kennedy’s Ramsey Field in Upper Tumon.

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