UPPER TUMON, Guam – Sometimes, it’s the little things you can take away from a football game that make it worth playing, even in defeat.

Things like getting down the blocking scheme on extra-point tries. The rise of a freshman defender who can help keep a game between the league leader and his winless team scoreless through halftime. The continued development of a young quarterback and the team’s offense.

That was the narrative on Saturday as Guam High (0-3) battled on even terms with Interscholastic Football League-leading John F. Kennedy (4-0) through two quarters before the Islanders pulled away for a 23-7 win in a game played in monsoon-like conditions in the second half.

“I’m as happy as I’ve ever been after a loss,” Panthers coach Jacob Dowdell said. “For a team as young as we are, the kids came out and fought hard for each other. We got a lot of defensive stops.”

Dowdell said he was particularly proud of the play of freshman Kevin Russell, who recorded six quarterback pressures and three sacks.

But while the game remained scoreless at half, nothing, Dowdell said, could prepare the team for what it endured in the third quarter, when a squall hit Ramsey Field hard, suddenly, with heavy sideways rain and wind blowing in the Panthers’ faces.

“Before that, it was a game,” Dowdell said. “That monsoon hit and put us in seven inches of rain before we knew it. The ball’s wet, the wind is in your face, we could have had three interceptions but the ball popped out of peoples’ hands. You can’t see it until it hits you in the bread basket.”

Kaimana Bamba scored the Panthers’ lone touchdown on a 1-yard quarterback sneak late in the third quarter, and it wasn’t just the extra-point kick by Nick Anderson that pleased Dowdell, but that the blocking finally came together for it.

“We finally got that blocking scheme together,” he said. “We can take some small victories away from this game. A lot of small victories.”

Next for the Panthers is a home date with Okkodo at 7 p.m. Saturday.

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