CNMI Sharks brace for Guam fightback

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Two CNMI Sharks defenders hit the ground after attempting to tackle a Team Guam player during their game in the 7th Marianas Bowl last year at the CPA Airport Field. (Saipan Tribune)

The 8th Marianas Bowl is scheduled for this Saturday with the CNMI Sharks anticipating a Team Guam eager to avenge its lost to the hosts last year.

According to CNMI Sharks coach John Blanco, Team Guam will bring a full contingent of all-stars to ensure that there is no repeat of last year’s crushing defeat. The CNMI Sharks coasted to a 26-0 victory in the 2018 competition, breaking Team Guam’s winning streak (six) in the two islands’ American football showdown.

“The first-ever game between the two islands was played back on March 11, 2001 and the two islands have since faced each other a total of seven times since then. Guam has won the previous six games…with the exception of last year’s game,” Blanco said.

Team Guam prevailed in the two matches in 2011 and also won in 2002, 2013, 2014, and 2016 before the Sharks halted the run last year.

Quarterback Jerome Norita made three TD passes, two were for Isaiah Hartzler in the second quarter, while Ben Jones Jr. and Stewart Toilolo scored the two other TDs in the Sharks’ demolition of Team Guam in 2018.

For the 2019 edition of their duel, Blanco said that roughly 30 players from the CNMI and 30 players from Guam will face off. Majority of the players who saw action in last year’s match are expected return to the CPA Airport Field for the 1pm tussle this weekend.

Blanco said that although the CNMI walked away with a lopsided victory the last time they challenged Guam, the visiting team is not an easy target. The CNMI Sharks do not want to be complacent against Guam and have been training hard for this weekend’s game.

“Guam is always a tough team and they are the guys to beat in the region. We do train to win, as we know that Guam is one really tough team to beat. It’s going to be one hell of a game. Hope everyone can come out and watch it,” he said.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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