What an incredible year for the Brawley Wildcats 2012 football team. My earliest memories of Wildcats high school football dates back to the “Bell Game” of 1973. That year the Wildcats ended the Spartans longest winning streak in Bell Games to that point of four years.
In all the years since then to the present team, I have witnessed some awesome seasons. This year’s Wildcat team will rank up there among two other teams as my favorites, the 1979 (Class of ’80) and the 2004 team (The Qualcomm Season).
The 1979 season came within a touchdown of going to the Championship game in CIF Southern Section. Indio would win it all one week later 35-7. That team included two running backs with over 1,000 rushing yards. (Marvin Carter and Ron Rubio), a third (Jay Platt) was in the upper 980+ yards. The late Rick Marquez (QB) passed for over 1,000 yards to his favorite target, the late Gary Lopez, who had over 1,000 yards receiving.
As for the 2004 season, we all know what a magical season that was with Zay Shepard, Sam Toomer, Justin Baeza, Marty and Mike Mohammed…to name a few. It doesn’t seem that long ago, but it has been eight years. This 2012 group had the same flavor of both those two great team.
First and foremost, a BIG CONGRATULATIONS must go out to the coaching staff that prepared this team for its success. Coach Jon Self, in only his second season, earned sole possession of the IVL Title with the help of Lawrence Landy, Rick Rubio, John Self, Tom Cato and Mark Valdez. They didn’t miss a beat and continued the success following the John Bishop reign.
At QB and Safety was Josh Godinez and it was a toss-up of which position he was most valuable as a leader. He ran an almost unstoppable offense and had one of the best ever QB options that fooled the best defenses. At safety, he read other teams offense exceptionally well and was able to record an IVL leading 6 interceptions. There was only one way this tough young man was ever going to be off the field. Unfortunately, that one way occurred when suffered a broken leg late in the season. He was the team punter, place kick holder, and led the kickoff special team.
“Running back High” continued its tradition at Brawley with the top three RB’s; Isaak Comparan, Jared Mohammed and Bryce Alexander. When any of these three would be taken out to rest, the opposing teams would have Tanner Rollins, Zach Krigbaum, Richard Ramirez and Misael Soto to worry about.
The best quote from a fan from an opposing team was, “Why can’t they stop that little guy?” referring to Isaak Comparan. Easy because he was fast and quick (yes, there is a difference), elusive, strong, smart and had that determination to get to the end zone.
“THE LAST OF THE MOHAMMED’s”, Jared Mohammed did what most had anticipated him doing his last season, and more. As the Senior RB, it was his smash mouth power running that softened up defenses and paved the way for all the other ball carriers. Who could ever forget his long 71 yard TD run on Brawley’s first offensive plays in the “Bell Game” or the long 77 yard run against Imperial in the playoffs? He was slowed down a bit by an early season injury but finished off strong to go over the 1,000 yard mark. His play at linebacker was ferocious.
Bryce Alexander would have probably been the third back to rush over 1,000 yards but he didn’t play the first two games of the season. Once on the field, he was always a threat for the long breakaway TD run. He also had a late season injury with a separated shoulder that slowed him a bit and limited his carries. Nevertheless, he did rush for over 800 yards.
Tanner Rollins had big days on big games. It began last year at Central when he scored twice. This season, his final year, his electrifying run for the Wildcat’s first TD at Imperial ignited an offensive fire that the Tigers could not extinguish. His play at defense was just as solid with sacks and drive-stopping tackles at key moments in games.
Zach Krigbaum, Richard Ramirez and Misael Soto all had great runs during the season. Most notably, was Misael Soto long 87 TD yard run on his first carry on Homecoming night.
If Division I college scouts hadn’t heard or noticed Donovin Buck before this season, they got an eye-full this fall. Donovin was a monster on defense. He was not only a threat to cause QB sacks and hurries, but he could drop back into pass coverage. This was evident in an interception in the playoffs against Imperial. Teams weren’t too successful running to his side of the field. He is going to be one of the most exciting players to watch on next year’s team. He will give the most headaches to opposing coaches. I anticipate a little bit more passing next year for the Wildcats and Donovin will be a huge target and effective receiver.
Hunter Wharton was another stand out as a defensive tackle on the same side as Donovin Buck. His 31 total tackles bested the other defensive tackle, Christian Gonzalez, by one tackle, who had 30. The announcers called out both names many times during the season. Hunter Wharton played tight end and had 4 catches and was a vital piece to the offensive line’s success.
Abraham Lopez was another standout on the defensive line. His 41 tackles solidified the Wildcat defense that found opposing teams tough to run against.
Two more honorable mentions go to Lionel Gonzalez whose name could also be heard over the PA system with tackles made. Orlando Lopez the kicker had a pooch kick like no other. His ability to pooch kick or kick deep was vital to the success of the Wildcats as they were able to force opposing teams begin deep on their side of the field, usually with no return.
Lastly, what can be said about the offensive line that hasn’t been repeated over and over this season? This group had an outstanding season; Steven Saldana, Miguel Moreno, Martin Garza, Remington Campbell and Isaiah Quiroz.
I wondered how Isaiah Quiroz would handle the transition from fullback to a lineman. His team player concept created a positive karma that I believe received great results in return. It was a big change in positions but no one would have realized he was playing on the line for the first time. He adapted well and his efforts were matched on the defensive side as a linebacker.
Remington Campbell, starting center, took over the kicking duties for field goals and extra points. He had a long consecutive streak of converting extra points.
The senior linemen; Steven Saldana, Miguel Moreno, and Martin Garza were the leaders on a quest for success this fall. They knew they weren’t the biggest when they faced opponents but they would prove they were the strongest and most effective. They were able to help their team win an IVL Title, beat Central in the “Bell Game”, and take their team deep into the CIF playoffs. They proved that their first victory against Imperial wasn’t a fluke and did it in extraordinary fashion. They were the main factor in the second win against the Tigers.
The Wildcats were forced to use Sophomore QB Ross Rubio when Josh Godinez was injured. Ross Rubio was able to handle the pressure of leading the Varsity team, a season earlier than expected. This was a tough task since it was during the playoffs. He handled pressure well and with the Varsity jitters out of the way, Brawley Wildcat fans now know that the team will be in good hands when the 2013 season begins next season.
The outlook for the Wildcats in 2013 is promising. Many key position players will be returning as well as players from an undefeated Junior Varsity squad.
Playing on both Varsity and Junior Varsity were Charlie Babb, Tony Ramos, Andrew Ortiz, Nico Aguirre and Frank Perdomo, look out for them on next year’s team.
Once again, a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to the coaching staff of Jon Self and to all the players for making 2012 one of the most memorable seasons of all time. Best of luck and have a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a Happy New Year.