by Jason Salas
Guam - They say numbers don't lie, but in the Miller Football League they also don't tell the whole truth. Such is certainly the case for this season's DOCOMO Chargers, who despite being outscored 149-6 en route to an 0-3 record (extending their losing streak from the 2010 season to 10 straight games), have a defense you have to see live in order to properly appreciate.
Sure, football's success is ultimately measured by a team's ability to win. But for the Chargers it goes deeper than that.
I've seen the squad play twice this year - each time resulting in a blowout. But in both contests the entire team outwardly exhibited pride, joy, laughter and sportsmanship, with all players keeping their heads up throughout, seeking the unique glory that one can only feel in a team sports victory. So if anything, know this: the Chargers can really play defense.
With so much of DOCOMO's roster coming from the U.S. military (Navy and Air Force predominantly), these are people just happy to get a few hours away from the tense nature of their duty and take part in high-caliber competition playing the game they love. The experience gives them a temporary reprieve from being leaders of men to just...guys.
And it's this spirit that's made them so fun to watch. While other teams in similar situations might not have the fan support, the Chargers bring scores of spouses, friends, kids and supporters to each game. It makes for quite the fervent gallery.
In this week's game against the first place Cars Plus Rams, the Chargers demonstrated the energy that's made them such a dangerous opponent - all without their best player, the electrifying do-everything utility back Alan "Acme" Hamilton, out for the season with a broken ankle. With defense being their admitted strong suit, DOCOMO came into the game hungry, optimistic and ready to hit.
Standout linebacker Andrew Staats had a monster 1st half in constantly pressuring reigning league Offensive MVP quarterback Brant McCreadie, helping to force 3 turnovers in the game's first two quarters and recovering a fumble. Defensive end Emonte Means, lineman Al Spivey and strong safety Elizah Mitchell also brought the crowd to its feet with bone-jarring tackles. And across the way, linebacker T.C. Mix thrilled the crowd after juggling a broken-up pass (tipped by Staats), then returning the pigskin 60 yards for the team's first touchdown of the season.
Mix was our KUAM Sports Player of the Game for DOCOMO, adding 6 solo tackles, a fumble recovery and a sack.
The Chargers from that point on played inspired ball, but fell victim to just too many Rams big plays, as rookie tailback Jess "Pompy" Manglona dashed for 114 yards on 10 carries and 3 TDs; and McCreadie went deep to wideout Nate Baza twice in the end zone. The Rams won 48-6 to stay perfect, leaving the Chargers empty-handed yet again. But even as the margin began to grow to insurmountable proportions, the Chargers played on, coming out full-force on every series on offense, defense and special teams. No tears, no shame, no infighting, no whining. Just football.
So while "winless" is an unfortunate cross no athlete wants to bear, the Chargers play on with passion and with pride. They continue to pursue what's eluded them for the last season and a half, knowing someday they'll wind up in the 'W' column. With the team playing with this much enthusiasm now, can you imagine the party when they do get a win?
For reference, ask the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Jason Salas pens his weekly column "MFL Rocks" on various aspects of the Miller Football League because due to Fate's cruel sense of humor, he can't actually suit up and take the field. Just don't get him started on the BCS.