Imperial Tigers continue march defending league title

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Imperial QB, Aaron Bonillas, #10, prepares to send one flying down field.
Imperial QB, Aaron Bonillas, #10, prepares to pass down field.

EL CENTRO- It was a night of Tiger Pride with the Southwest Eagle’s visitor side bleachers packed with Imperial fans supporting their team on the road. The Imperial Tigers (3-3) faced the Southwest Eagles (2-4) playing not only for a better league record, (1-0) (0-1) respectively, but also for the Johnny Romero Fireman’s Helmet.

Imperial’s defense was lights out until the fourth quarter, showing the same prowess they had a week before against the Central Spartans. Meanwhile, the Tiger offense was fierce, pulling off a streak of three consecutive touchdown drives at the end of the night. With the final score 46-14 Imperial stays undefeated (2-0) while Southwest remains winless in league (0-2). Next week’s bout between Imperial (4-3), ranked 7th in Division 2, and Brawley (6-1), who is currently 3rd after shutting down Calexico 44-0, should be a game to watch. The game will be at Imperial with tickets already going on sale.

The night began with both teams failing to move the ball as the Eagles were forced to punt, and the Tiger’s drive ended in a turnover on downs. Then, suddenly the Tigers exploded, needing only two plays to score a 44- yard touchdown from QB Aaron Bonillas, to receiver A J Carmona.

Later in the night, Cornerback Zeke Hernandez snatched the ball out of the air at the Eagle’s 12-yard line, increasing his interceptions on the year to four. Imperial made use of the turnover with a 12- yard score from #20, Carlos Villanueva, and a 2-point conversion.

Still, the Eagles offense could not produce more than 20 yards on any two consecutive drives. Meanwhile, A J Carmona took another one to the house for the Tigers, this one a 47-yard catch from Bonillas.

Starting the second half, #35, Hernandez, proved he could do a little bit of everything by returning the kickoff for a touchdown. After the Eagles played with the ball for a bit, they then punted which begun a Tiger’s run of 3 consecutive touchdowns.

Beginning with a 23-yard touchdown run by Bonillas, followed by a pick six at the 33 yard line by #2 Mark Benedict, culminating in Hernandez showing up on offense with a 25 yard touchdown catch, the Tigers made it look easy.

The lone highlight for Southwest, was senior, #11, Nigel Rabb, who got the first touchdown of the night for Southwest with a 23-yard catch, nearly 8 minutes into the 3rd quarter. Officials let the clock run in the 4th quarter with the final points of the night coming from a 1 yard catch to #40, Gio Camarena, of the Eagles.

After the game head coach, Kerry Legarra, felt “pleased with the work my boys did tonight”.

Next week the Tigers have a very good matchup against perennial league rival Brawley. Last year Brawley was the defending league champ and Imperial went in crushing the Wildcats 29-10. This year the tables are turned, “We’re the defending champs, so Brawley has to come and attack us this year”, said Legarra. Perhaps this year the defending league champions can keep the crown, “they’re gonna come in and give us some love, and we’re gonna love them [Brawley] right back”, concluded Legarra with a smile.

All Photos by Gus Garcia