BRAWLEY – With five games under their belt, IVL teams begin the quest for the IVL Title Friday night. The Imperial Tigers hold claim as they were the Champions of 2013 with that memorable season with an incredible team. Other teams that have champions have been Central, Southwest and Brawley.
Calexico travels to Blythe to take on the Yellow Jackets of Palo Verde High. Both teams have had similar results losing a close game to start off the season. Calexico lost to Desert Mirage 22-20 while Palo Verde lost to Holtville 20-14. The next four games were lopsided either on the winning or losing end. The Bulldogs come off big losses to Sweetwater, Orange Glen and Cibola but were big winners over Montgomery in San Diego. Being that Calexico is in Division IV this is almost a must win in order to sneak into the playoffs.*
Palo Verde is in Division V and although this is not a ‘must win’ situation, a good showing and/or win could move them higher in the seeding of the Division V playoffs. The YellowJackets are currently sitting on the fifth spot, but only eight teams are invited to the tournament. The fifth spot will earn them a playoff game, but it would be an away game. **
This is a big hurdle to jump considering they are the team that has to travel the farthest. Remember, they were one of four teams in the Imperial Valley (they are IVL, so I consider them Imperial Valley since San Diego seems to always snub them) to reach the semi-finals in the playoffs in this new system that San Diego CIF has chosen to categorize schools.
Central at Imperial is the hot ticket for this first week of IVL. Central gets the first opportunity to give the 2013 Champs their first loss in league. Central comes off a win over the 2013 Division V Champs, Holtville Vikings, last week,14-10. In order for them to be successful they will have to be more disciplined. There were just too many yellow flags in last week’s game for the Spartans and if they repeat that performance of last week it will be a long night. The Spartans gave it their all in last year’s game against the Tigers. Central and Imperial were tied going into the half, but the Tigers proved to be too much and won 45-28. **The Spartans are currently listed as the #3 seed in Division IV. Holding or improving that seed would guarantee a first round bye in the playoffs.
The Defending IVL Champs, Imperial Tigers, are in Division II. When the Divisions first were announced, they were in Division I, but it was adjusted and the Tigers were placed in Div. II. This year, the Tigers had a big obstacle to jump over following that incredible season of last year. Although they aren’t in the same position as last year, going in undefeated into IVL, they have held their own. Defensively, they are keeping games close and have a 2-3 record. They held Valley Center at bay until the end when the Jaguars pulled it out for the win. They beat Division I Olympian on the road in Chula Vista. The Tigers are currently #14 in Division II so they will have to scratch and claw their way up two slots to even have a chance to make the playoffs in the extremely tough division. Their defense will prove to be the difference and I can surely see them getting the spot, if they play as well as they have in the first five games.
Southwest visits Brawley on the Wildcat’s Homecoming. Southwest is in Division IV and currently sits one spot ahead of Calexico at #11. Southwest has had a rocky season, but beating two out of three San Diego teams should help them hold that spot, or jump higher with a successful IVL season. Remember IVL teams are constantly criticized for not playing enough San Diego teams (even though SD teams shy away from Imperial Valley teams) and the Eagles went 2-1 against them. They have played well in Brawley and beat the Wildcats in Brawley the last time they both shared the IVL Title in 2010.
Brawley Wildcats are sitting at the #6 spot in Division II. If the playoffs were tomorrow they would have a first round home game. The next five games will be a chance for the Wildcats to move up in the ranks. A little help with losses from any of the teams above them would be great. Heavily favored by Calpreps computations does not give the Wildcats the win, necessarily. It still has to be played on the field. Brawley’s defense has been most impressive, (and Andrew Ortiz) as they have two shutouts in the record books. The young Wildcats will have to continue with what got them to this point of a 4-1 record in order to fulfill their quest for the IVL Title. The teams standing in their way in the order of the strongest opponent on down would be 1. Imperial 2. Central 3. Southwest 4. Calexico and 5. Palo Verde in the overall picture but Southwest being the Wildcats next opponent would be at top of the list for now.
*The Bulldogs are currently in the 12th spot out of 12 available slots.
** All stated seedings and rankings are from Maxpreps and Calpreps websites. Although this gives us a good sense of how teams are doing in respects to their power ratings and strengths of schedules, the final seedings are made by the San Diego CIF committee on November 8th after the last game of the season on the 7th.