BRAWLEY – The Imperial Valley League football game between the Brawley Union High Wildcats and the Imperial High School Tigers this Friday night should put the winner in the driver’s seat in their quest for the title.
The Wildcats (4-3) host the Tigers (2-5) and both teams have struggled in pre-league play with (2-3) and (0-5) records. Both teams played tough schedules with Imperial having a more difficult strength of schedule.
As has been the last five years in the IVL, both teams know the road to the title has gone through either Brawley or Imperial. This year will be no exception and has become a great game and rivalry.
Last week, the Wildcats built a strong 30-0 halftime lead against the Calexico Bulldogs in route to a homecoming win. Leading rusher with 109 yards on 11 carries and one rushing touchdown was Nathan Suits. He also cashed in on a 75-yard kickoff return for six points and had one interception.
Moises Lazos had his best game of the season. Lazos had only two carries, but for 61 yards. He had a big 56-yard touchdown run and a long 50-yard punt return that set up a one play scoring drive. Lazos had two other long punt returns negated on penalty calls that erased over a hundred yards of return yards. His all-purpose total yards total was 228 for the game with one touchdown.
Austyn Gutierrez had 36 yards on 7 carries with two touchdowns. George Mickle playing the quarterback position completed 5 of 8 passes for 116 yards on the night. Fernando Razo added 33 yards to the ground game for the Wildcats on 12 carries.
Brawley defensively held the Bulldogs to only 13 yards rushing on 19 carries. Calexico was held to 82 yards on 9 completions on 15 passing attempts with one interception.
Daniel Crankshaw led the team defensively with a 30-point defense total. His totals have helped improve the Wildcat’s defense each week since the fourth game. He had one quarterback sack. Alex Campbell, who also plays offensive guard, was a big contributor on defense with an 18 point total. Blake Zeleney and Nathan Montalvo equaled their numbers at 13 points. Alek Aguirre was the first one in on a tackle in the Bulldog end zone when Brawley’s first safety on defense gave the Wildcats its first points of the game.
Looking ahead to Friday’s game for the Wildcats, the Imperial Tigers have had a tough strength of schedule. Common opponents for the Tigers and Wildcats are Cibola, Valley Center and Christian. While both teams fared the same results in losses, the Tiger defense gave up more points than Brawley’s. The Tigers put up better numbers offensively than the Wildcats. With over 2,600 yards in total offense, the Tigers have split it evenly in rushing and passing. That should even it out to make this a very close game. Add the fact that a rivalry has been brewing since the Tigers entered the IVL. The Wildcats have to be prepared and play Brawley football.
For the Tigers, senior quarterback Aaron Bonillas has passed for over 1300 yards on the season with nearly 600 of those yards coming in league play. Sophomore running back Brandon Hueso and juniors Raymond Beamon and David Savage compliment an explosive Tiger offense that can score from anywhere on the field, both passing and rushing.
Both teams, the Wildcats and Tigers, have big stakes riding in the outcome of this Friday’s game. For the Tigers, a loss would not necessarily hurt them too much in Division III. A win against Division II Brawley would give them a better ranking, but most importantly, the incentive of possibly knocking the Wildcats out of the post-season playoffs would be “the icing on the cake.” If this should happen, it would be the first and only year Brawley would NOT be in the playoffs since entering San Diego CIF section. Remember that the Tigers have beaten the Wildcats only twice since entering IVL and both of those wins were at Warne Field.
The Wildcats would take a huge step forward in doing something that hasn’t been done in the IVL since the Central High Spartans did it in the fall seasons of 2008 and 2009. Win the IVL Title outright in consecutive seasons. Since then the Title has been won by Brawley, Imperial, Southwest and Central either solely or shared. The Wildcat defense will be put to a test against a Tiger offense that has put over 300 yards offensively in six of their seven games they have played. Bonita Vista is the only team to shut Imperial’s offense.
This Friday night at Warne Field will be the place to be for the best in Friday Night high school football. Kickoff is scheduled for 7pm