BRAWLEY – Knights in shining (purple, silver and black) armor will be rolling in from the north via Highway 86 as Shadow Hills High football team makes its first appearance versus the Brawley Wildcats.
The new school from Indio is in their 6th football season headed by 5th year coach, Ron Shipley.
The Knights come off their most successful season last year ending with a record of 7-5 and winning their first round playoff game. Their season ended the next week to the eventual Champions Jurupa Hills. This season they are 1-1, losing to a very good Perris team in the season opener. They avenged last year’s loss to Palm Desert with a big win over the DVL foe by a score of 34-14.
The Knights run a shotgun offensive formation that resembles Valley Center, who the Wildcats beat last week. The big difference is they do not pass nearly as much as the Jaguars.
#7 QB Isaiah Ortega-Dage had an impressive 300+ yards rushing in their lopsided victory. His minimal passing isn’t to be ignored though, as he threw for an 81-yard TD pass to #28 Junior Tony Williams coming out of the backfield that caught Perris defenders napping. Williams is one of two running backs to watch as is #22 Jared Gipson. The Knights are expecting him to have a great year after an early end to his season last year with a broken ankle.
Shadow Hills is in the De Anza League from Division Northwest (XI) and are rated highest among Non-DVL teams at fourth in the area by the Desert Sun. It includes teams from both the DeAnza and DVL Leagues. Only Palm Springs, La Quinta and Cathedral City are ranked higher.
As for the Wildcats, their loss to Hoover in week one doesn’t look as bad this week after Hoover shutout its second opponent. This time it was the private school of Francis Parker with a score of 26-0.
Brawley’s offense got a huge spark from Andrew Ortiz and Ross Rubio that ignited the Wildcats last week’s offense. With 28-0 and 35-7 leads in the game they controlled most of the game but it was uncomfortably close at the end. The defense showed signs of fatigue with the length of the game but they prevailed when it counted.
Nico Aguirre showed signs of being back to form from last season with a game changing 95 TD yard interception. That was the difference between a 14-7 score had Valley Center reached the end zone first, to the 20-0 lead and the momentum swing back to the Wildcats advantage.
The offensive line (Tony Ramos, Raymond Caballero, Isaiah Martinez, Christian Ramirez and Isaac Yancy) showed much more confidence and had greater success in their second full game together. The offense would have positive yards on ALL but one play that occurred late in the fourth quarter. This showed dominance of the trenches and the fact that it was accomplished against the powerhouse Valley Center Jaguars made it that much more “Legit”.
Defensively, the Wildcats are stingy when they are fresh. The long game last week might have exposed a slight fatigue factor with the heat index as high as it was that evening.
What the heat could not diminish was their “Heart”. Returnees Andrew Ortiz, Nico Aguirre, Jacob Ordonez and Steven Baeza were everywhere on the field. Nathan Montalvo, who had a little varsity action last season, has stepped up his game improving with each snap. Sophomore Blake Zeleney made some big plays, none bigger than the QB sack in the first quarter that set an uncomfortable tone for the visiting Jaguars.
It will be interesting this Friday, as the Wildcats will face a team they have never played against.
Also, it should be noted that the last time a player rushed for 300 plus yards the week before playing Brawley was a Lincoln High RB (remember “Tank”) in 2001. He did that against the Southwest Eagles. They intended to do a repeat performance against the Wildcats but the Hornets came up about 250 yards short of his goal with only 61 yards and lost 55-12.
Let’s hope history repeats itself on Friday night. Especially since Brawley got as far as the Semi Finals that season. Good Luck to the Coaches and Players