Let The Games Begin



The Brawley Union High School Wildcats football team ended on a high note in their last game to prepare for their defense of the Imperial Valley League Title.

At Gila Ridge High School in Yuma last week the Wildcats’ defense recorded their first shutout of the season with an incredible display of takeaway ball. They had one fumble recovery and five interceptions that provided the formula for a huge 44-0 victory. Of those interceptions, Daniel Crankshaw was the first with a pick that set up a short field of 11 yards for a Brawley score. Kevin Kastner had one fumble recovery and an interception that he took to the house from 32 yards to cash in on six points.

The other three interceptions were by Moises Lazos who had an outstanding second half when all three were made. Defensively, the Wildcats allowed only 96 yards of total offense (10 rushing and 86 passing). The Wildcats offensively totaled 332 yards of which 302 were on the ground.

The big win by the Wildcats sets up the quest for the IVL Title. Most teams rested this week with a “Bye” giving those teams a chance to rest, heal any injuries and prepare for their next opponents.

Southwest Eagles

Coming out of the gate with high expectations the next three years, the Eagles enter league play with a 5-0 record. They have done it in every way possible with both close games and blowouts. Their toughest games were against Coronado and Kofa High School. Against Kofa there were multiple lead changes but the Eagles didn’t falter and took advantage of mistakes for a big win of 48-35. Eagle defense has held their opponents to one touchdown or less with one shutout. Their three big guns are three sophomores in quarterback Cameron Jungers who has 359 yards passing and just under 100 yards rushing. Next is Justin Cordova, who has just over 500 yards total of which 472 are rushing yards. Their biggest weapon is Tyler Saikhon who has 471 rushing yards and 279 yards receiving. These Eagles enter as the biggest challenge of the season to take the IVL Title away. In last year’s game in Brawley, Southwest had the Wildcats at 0-0 in a game that was predicted to be a 50+ point win. That is why the game is played on the field and not on paper or a computer program. You never know.

Central Union Spartans

With the same record as the Wildcats at 2-3, Central Union High can be a factor in the IVL quest. It really matters on which team decides to show up to its games. Will it be the one that scores a lot or the one who gives up points. Their rollercoaster of a season has had changes at the quarterback position between Ricky Guzman and Pete Sanchez. Wildcat fans know Pete Sanchez all too well after last year’s “Bell Game” in Brawley. Ricky Guzman has been used in the more recent games, but anything can change in the five game season leading up to the “Bell Game” in El Centro this year. It could be the game that determines whether the IVL Title is shared or won outright by Central, Southwest or Brawley.

Imperial Tigers

I wouldn’t wish this season’s schedule on anyone, especially on one that was rebuilding. The best I had of the Tigers coming out of this brick wall of a schedule was 1-4. A win against the Cibola Raiders was their only chance of a possible win and it was tied at halftime. The rest of their opponents were just too much for any Imperial team to handle. It will be interesting to see if after the “bye” they can mend from the injuries accumulated during the 0-5 start of their 2015 season. I expect at least four of the teams that beat them this year to go deep in the playoffs. Let’s hope these losses don’t diminish their hopes of an IVL Title. Stat wise, they offensively have almost 800 yards passing and exactly 900 yards rushing. That was done against strong teams and most likely is on the minds of defensive coaches they will face in the IVL.

Calexico Bulldogs

The 100 Year Anniversary celebration of the Bulldogs has been a tough one as they sit with an 0-5 record. First year head coach Sean Johnson has had a hard time getting that first win for the hungry Bulldogs. They nearly pulled the big upset at home against the Private powerhouse of Francis Parker but lost in overtime 20-14. That win alone could have done a lot to boost the morale of the Calexico faithful but it can only be chalked up to a moral victory, at best. They have had some close games including a one-point loss against Orange Glen, a team that has mostly beaten the Bulldogs by big margins.

Palo Verde Valley Yellowjackets

The team’s head coach George Dagnino has the longest tenure of all the IVL teams coaches. His Yellowjackets are sitting with a 2-2 record with wins over Horizon and Holtville. They narrowly lost to Vincent Memorial by a score of 8-0. Here is a team that can easily get the nod at going into the Manzanita League or a smaller league in Riverside County but you have to give them their props for their “moxie.” They have had tough teams, remember they were in the Championship game at the “Q” in 2004. They have had some good history, and I believe they could easily challenge for third place in IVL this season.

As far as predictions go, I tend to stay away from it as much as I can. There are so many things that change from week to week, especially in high school football. Those included and not limited to those changes are; injuries, grades and girlfriends breaking up to go steady with the rival team’s quarterback, these are just a few of the thousands of reasons predictions are worthless. That last one was put in place from a “Brady Bunch” episode and any similarities to anyone in IVL is strictly coincidental.

Here’s wishing all the coaches and players of the IVL the best of luck and success as the title chase begins on Friday.