HOLTVILLE – The Imperial Valley Football Coaches Association welcomed its 2015 Hall of Fame class Saturday night.
The IV Swiss Club served as the setting to this year’s event hosted by Keith Smith Jr. and Craig Lyon, with Coach Mike Swearinger on the mic in his final year as MC.
Friends, families, and fans packed the Swiss club, located in Holtville, in honor of this year’s inductees whose playing days range from the 1950’s to the early 2000’s.
This football season marked the ten-year anniversary of the Brawley High Wildcat “Qualcomm” team, a team in which this years Brawley 2000’s inductee Zay Shepherd served as running back. Shepard was quick to give a shout out to his former squad.
“I want to say thank you to my coaches and my Brawley High 2005 football team,” said Shepard. “Those guys are great supporting cast.”
The CIF finalist squad included fellow seniors Derrick Barkum, James Pope, and Leo Ibarra, and juniors Justin Baeza, Shepherd’s younger brother Sam Toomer, and Mike and Marty Mohammad.
The night featured many memorable moments, including the induction of fallen war hero Marcus Cherry, whose mother was on hand to accept the award. It was a fitting swan song for Mike Swearinger, since he served as coach for Imperial during Cherry’s high school playing career.
Receiving induction into the Hall of Fame for IVC football in the 1980’s was the late Gary Lopez whose sons Aaron and David Lopez were in attendance. Although this year’s induction was for his accomplishments at IVC football, Gary Lopez was also member of the late 70’s – early 80’s Wildcat squads that were yearly contenders for the CIF Southern Section titles. He now joins fellow Brawley late 70’s-early 80’s squad members Rick Marquez, Marvin Carter, and Ronnie Rubio in the IVFCA Hall of Fame.
“It was an honor to have him accepted into the Imperial Valley Hall of Fame,” said Aaron Lopez. “We were blessed that everyone shared their support.”
Aaron is the son of the late Gary Lopez and is the executive chef at the Inferno Restaurant in Brawley.
With Mike Swearinger “retiring” from the mic, next year it will be Craig Lyon as IVFCA MC. Lyon will continue sharing hosting duties with Keith Smith Jr.
“It was a great night inducting these individuals into the Hall of Fame,” said Lyon. “It’s always a great night as they get to reminisce with others that also had great experiences on the football field.”
“We look forward to continuing this in the future and I’m looking forward to working with the committees from each of the schools,” added Lyon.