IMPERIAL — The Imperial High Tigers hosted the Eagles of Southwest High on Friday night, in the annual Johnny Romero helmet game. Johnny Romero was an Imperial Valley firefighter who served as an assistant for both the Tigers and Eagles.
It was also an Imperial Valley League meeting, the second of the season for both teams, Imperial was the one to breakthrough as victors beating Southwest, 38-6.
Both teams did their homework as neither team could muster points offensively early in the contest.
A promising drive from the Eagles ended in a turnover as Carlos Villanueva intercepted the ball deep in Tiger territory to end the Eagle drive.
Southwest returned the favor on the following drive as Eagle senior Carlos Canez intercepted a deflected pass deep in Eagle territory ending the Tiger drive.
After nearly two quarters of play, the Tigers managed to put some points on the board, after a blocked punt from Jason Luna gave the Tigers great field position at the Eagle 49-yard line. Twelve plays later, Imperial quarterback Aaron Bonillas found the end zone on a quarterback sneak, giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 2:52 left in the half.
After a three-and-out for the Eagles on their next possession, it took the Tigers only three plays to find the end zone again, this time it was Imperial’s Ben Hueso on a direct snap from three yards out. On that touchdown drive Bonillas completed a 39-yard pass to Joey Keck to become the Imperial Tiger all-time leading passer.
After a successful two-point conversion the Tigers saw themselves up 15-0 with less than a minute to go in the half and it looked as though the score would hold until halftime.
But once again the Eagles would turn the ball over, and this time deep in their own territory with little time left on the clock.
The Tigers took advantage of the mistake and Josue Robles converted a 28-yard field goal kick in the last play of the half giving imperial an 18-0 lead at the break.
The Eagles looked to cut into the lead with the first possession of the second half but went backwards on their first three downs, and were forced to punt on fourth-and-long.
From there, Imperial embarked on another 12-play drive, this one 65 yards, and ended again in another Hueso direct snap touchdown of four yards. Imperial now led 25-0 halfway through the third quarter.
The Eagles tried to muster some offense, but the Tiger defense continued to win on the line of scrimmage, affecting timing and rush attacks from the Eagles.
In the fourth quarter, Bonillas added two touchdown passes, the first a 56-yard catch and run to David Savage and the second a 32-yard strike to Ted Vogel.
With less than two minutes in the game, Southwest was able to get on the board with a 30-yard pass from quarterback Cameron Jungers to Jesus Macias preventing the shutout and bringing the game to its 38-6 final.
On the night for the Tigers, Hueso rushed for 96 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns, Bonillas rushed for 109 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown and threw for over 200 yards and two touchdowns on 16 completions of 23 attempts.
For the Eagles, Jungers finished 7-for-12 for 83 yards and a touchdown and Tyler Saikhon ran for 102 yards on 15 carries.
Southwest (5-2, 0-2 IVL) will travel to play Palo Verde Valley High at 7 p.m. Friday in Blythe.
Imperial (2-5, 2-0 IVL) will play at Brawley Union High at 7 p.m. Friday. Brawley is also undefeated in IVL. The winner of the Tigers-Wildcat matchup has determined the IVL champion for the last four years.