For three years, the Father Duenas Memorial School Friars' rugby team has been the best high school team on island. But with three consecutive Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam/Guam Rugby Football Union titles, the streak stopped in March 2019.
Not to be denied in the 2019-2020 season, the George Washington High School Geckos knocked off the defending champs, 19-12.
“Biba public school!” the Geckos shouted as they huddled together near midfield after their heroic, championship performance.
The Geckos' EJ Cali, scoring his third try with minutes left in regulation and scoring the game-winner, plowed through the maroon-and-gold. With lead official Brian Romero’s line-of-sight blocked by the mosh, he conferred with the assistant referee. After several tense minutes, the try was allowed.
Cali, at times, trudged toward the goal, carrying the Friars' defense along for a ride. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, Cali's courageous performance married his date with destiny.
"This win means everything to me," Cali said. "I’ve been on football and rugby for the last three years and we always came in second place. I’m just glad it worked out for us this year and we got the championship.”
For the Geckos, like most of their wins, the championship title didn’t come easily. With the Friars’ Brian Anderson scoring first, GW battled back from a first-half deficit, 5-nil.
Cali, after a long push, from 1 meter, pounded past the Friars’ goal line.
With three minutes left in the half, Cali did it again. Powering through the Friars’ last line of defense, he plowed past the try line for the 10-5 lead.
“We had to calm down on that drive (and) continue to push, and keep on grinding to get that try,” Cali said. “We worked super hard for it.”
Kaito Atsuta, after patiently lining up, drilled the 2-point conversion.
The Friars, midway through the second half, tied the game, 12-12. Pinned deep in their own territory, a Friar kicked the ball toward the left sideline. FD’s Noah Diaz, sprinting past GW’s secondary, scooped up the ball and ran for a 65-yard try. Miguel Hernandez, tying the game at 12 apiece, booted the point after straight through the uprights.
"We knew from the start that GW was going to play from beginning to end," Diaz said. "We played our hearts out."