Friday Night Lights “The Hunger Games”
BRAWLEY – The biggest game of the season will occur on Friday night in Imperial as the 2013 Defending IVL Champion Tigers are set to host the visiting Brawley Wildcats. The final outcome of this epic match could be determined by which team has the most “Hunger” for the victory.
“Catching Fire” early in the game would surely help but there will be no “Mockingjay” because that is a 15-yard penalty for Unsportsmanlike Conduct. It is a game that the Wildcats have been waiting for since last year after the Imperial Tigers snatched the title from them in Brawley on Warne Field just over a year ago.
Both teams are coming into this game from different angles. The Imperial Tigers had many positions to fill after graduation of that memorable year which guided them into the San Diego CIF semifinals. This is a team in which many players watched from the sidelines last year and have been preparing for this moment since the offseason.
Many had the Tigers falling off the map with so many missing players from the 2013 season’s roster. It is that determination that has fueled these players with the drive for the opportunity of playing for the IVL Title. Give credit to Coach Kerry Legarra and his coaching staff for getting this team to improve each week.
Total offense has reached almost 2,600 and they are well balanced, meaning the yardage is divided pretty evenly between passing and rushing. (1,331 passing and 1279 rushing yards) Their top RB is David Savage, then Carlos Villanueva, Aaron Bonillas and Joey Heck. A receiving crew of Savion Lewis and AJ Carmona are aided by Zeke Hernandez.
The Tigers are coming into the game with a 3-3 record but don’t let the record fool you. They played Valley Center tough at home and it was a late score by the Jaguars that ultimately handed the Tigers the loss. They didn’t fare to well against Cibola in the season opener but that is equaled out with the impressive win over Division I Olympian High in San Diego. Against El Centro, both teams, Central and Southwest ,fell to the Tigers by big scores 40-7 and 46-14 respectively.
Brawley Wildcats remember all too well the feeling they had last year losing the IVL Title at home. These seniors, along with a young team of sophomores and juniors, have had only one blemish to start the season. This rebuilding team and season only has a fifteen-yard drive on two plays by the Hoover Cardinals from being undefeated this year.
Since then, the Wildcats have outscored their opponents 212-41. The defense for the Wildcats has played extremely well with four shutouts in the six wins. They have accomplished this feat in the absence of one of their stars in Nico Aguirre. His loss forced others to step up their game.
The three shutouts the Wildcats have produced after his injury speaks well of their maturity and ability. Nico seems anxious to get back into the action but how soon is yet to be determined.
With players on defense including Nathan Montalvo, Jacob Ordonez, Andrew Ortiz, Blake Zeleney, Steven Baeza, Nick Amezcua, Moises Lazos, Fernando Munoz, Nathan Suits, Alec Gastelo, Alex Campbell, and AJ Grijalva (who has filled in nicely in Nico’s spot) are sure to give the Imperial Tiger’s offense the same headaches players and coaches have felt in the last 6 wins by Brawley. This is a defense that has caused a multitude of turnovers and has at least one interception in every game this season.
On offense, Andrew Ortiz went over a thousand yards with 1,042 yards on 145 carries averaging 149 yards a game with 7.2 yards per carry. Not far behind is Ross Rubio with 534 yards on 89 carries. Put too much emphasis on these two, and there are still Austyn Gutierrez, Moises Lazos, Steven Baeza, and Nathan Suits to contend with as they can score also at any time. Passing has been limited and you would think it would help defenses deal with the run game better, but the Wildcats are averaging over 300 yards rushing per game with 2,133 yards on 312 rushes. Not bad for “Running Back High” for season but there are at least 4 games left depending on how deep they go into the playoffs.
A game that really needs no “Hype”, the Tigers/Wildcats have had some great memorable games since Imperial joined the IVL. Tickets are already on sell for the predicted standing room only match up for the IVL Title that Imperial is defending on their turf. Wishing the best of luck to all the coaches and players in this game. Make it memorable as the rest, and hope the game is injury free. See you on Friday. “May the Odds be ever in your favor.”