Hit the PANIC button! Batten down the hatches! Hide the women and children! The Wildcats of Brawley Union High varsity football team is 0-2!
Although the Wildcat’s 0-2 start this season is rarer than rain on a Cattle Call Parade, it has happened. I can’t remember the year of the 0-2 start, but I remember being on a float, in the rain, during the Cattle Call Parade back in the 70’s. Nothing could keep me off that float that year even after missing the entire week of school due to an illness.
Let’s hope these Wildcats are just as stubborn about:
1- not falling 0-3 to begin the season
2- getting the much needed win, and
3- turning this downward skid around in the right direction.
Against the Valley Center Jaguars last week, the Wildcats contained big play strikes by keeping most plays way below 10 yards. Passes were limited to small bunches where the longest was 17 yards. In rushing, Andrew Navarro was given the ball 40 times covering 187 yards for a 4.7 average per carry. Passing wasn’t their forte but it got the job done for the Jaguars.
Passing for 140 yards on 15 completions was enough to keep the Wildcats defense guessing. One interception by Brawley’s Nathan Suits must have brought back nightmares to Valley Center’s fans when it appeared Suits had scored on a game-tying touchdown of 81 yards. Alumnus Nico Aguirre had done the same thing to them on the same field, but in the opposite direction. Unfortunately the outcome was different, it was ruled Suits had stepped out at the Jaguar 40-yard line. It was an accurate call by the ref after further reviewing the game.
The Wildcat’s offense hit a rough road against a tough Jaguar defense. Jaguars challenged Brawley to pass by defending against the run with loading up the box. Positioning most of the players within five yards of the scrimmage line makes it very difficult to run against. It also has its gamble if the offensive player can get behind the defense, big gains or touchdowns occur.
The Wildcat’s running game was limited to many small gains and only a couple of big plays. Suits led the Wildcat rushers with 42 yards on 15 carries. Austyn Gutierrez had only two carries, but for 39 yards. Brawley Wildcats are averaging 14 passing attempts per game and it will complement the running game as the season progresses. The line is giving first-year quarterback A.J. Grijalva time to throw and as he gains confidence the averages will rise. He has thrown for 218 yards on 13 completions in two games. Hmmm … could we be having the first 1,000-yard passer since Justin Baeza?
The Wildcats will be traveling to Indio to face the Knights of Shadow Hills High School. The school is in the De Anza League and they share a 0-2 record with Brawley. They have given up a lot of points on defense with 56-34 and 45-7 losses. Although they pass more often than the Wildcats, they have only 147 yards via the air. The distribution in the running game is spread among three running backs and the quarterback. Tony Williams Jr. leads the team with 154 yards on 24 carries. Williams had 97 yards last year against the Wildcats in a 35-0 loss in Brawley. Quarterback Jason Lang is behind their center in the shotgun formation for most of the game. He is also a threat to run where he has 17 rushes with 43 yards. Not big numbers but it keeps defenses on their toes. Also, Lang is only a sophomore.
This will be the first of four away games for the Wildcats. It will be the first time playing at Shadow Hills on the varsity level. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 7 p.m. This is Brawley’s third opponent and their previous two have combined for many championships (at least six in the last ten years) in CIF-San Diego Section football.
No need to even be reaching for the panic button. It is way too early in the season to even fathom the thought. This team has the players and coaches that can figure this out; not to mention the PRIDE and DEDICATION. That being said, this team faces an uphill battle for the next eight games, more when they go to the playoffs. Best of luck and success goes out to the players and coaches. See you there.