The Brawley Union High Wildcats took a step back last Friday night in their loss against the Imperial High School Tigers.
The Wildcats did just about everything coaches want in a football game, usually a recipe for “W” in the win column. That was not to be as Brawley made costly mistakes continuing the Tiger dominance on Warne Field in the regular season.
The Wildcats were on the positive side of the turnover game. They did not give up a fumble or interception the entire game. On the contrary, they forced the Tigers into three turnovers – two were interceptions and one was a fumble.
“After Further Review” Brawley was able to capitalize on two of the three turnovers for points in the form of touchdowns, not one as earlier stated. The Wildcats were on the plus side of time of possession.
Brawley had the ball over twice as long on offense with 33 minutes versus Imperial’s 15 minutes.
This usually can tire out a defense but as we witnessed on Friday, the Tiger defense seemed to get better as the game progressed. Ball control did not work in this campaign thus the Wildcats record dropped to 4-4 and 2-1 in the Imperial Valley League standings.
“After Further Review” also observed junior defensive end, Javier Orozco, recover a fumble that gave the Wildcats excellent position with a 14-7 lead early in the third quarter. Austyn Gutierrez caused that fumble when he stripped Brandon Hueso at the end of an impressive 18-yard run.
Adding some more material for this season’s highlight reel was the stunning interception by Kevin Kastner of 100 yards that looked closer to being 101. Pressure by Alex Campbell caused a hurried pass and Kastner anticipated the throw for an interception catch and touchdown run.
The touchdown runback brought back memories of a 1980 homecoming game when the Coachella High Arabs, down 3-0, were about to upset the Wildcats late in the game. A long drive of mostly runs had the Arabs around the 10-yard line of Brawley.
A pass play called by Coachella was the last thing anyone expected, but Clarence Carter, Imperial Valley Football Hall of Famer, stepped in front of the receiver, sprinted from goal line to goal line, east to west and along the Brawley sideline for a 10-0 victory. I still believe Kastner’s was one yard longer.
The Achilles’ heel for the Wildcats in their loss was penalties. 13 penalties for a total of 110 yards were just too much to handle for any offense or defense. Imperial had four first downs in lieu of penalties. False start penalties against the Wildcats created drives of first and tens quickly turning to first and fifteens.
Those penalties will haunt the younger Wildcats as much as the “loss”.
Blake Zeleney and Kastner led the Wildcats defensively in the point’s category. Zeleney had 30 points and was in on 12 tackles of which two were for loss of yardage. Kastner had 24 points accumulated by the touchdown interception along with four tackles. Nathan Montalvo was next with 16 points and in on ten tackles. Alek Aguirre and Gutierrez followed with 12 points each.
Whether or not this loss eliminates the Wildcats from the playoffs remains to be seen.
Brawley sits in the 11th spot with five teams close behind in CIF-San Diego Section point system. All the teams below the Wildcats have yet to win a game in their respective leagues.
This is a system that will have Brawley getting fewer points even if they win in their next two games due to Palo Verde Valley High and Central Union High being division four teams. Lincoln and Mount Miguel will both receive more points even in a loss due to their opponents being Division I teams.
Scripps Ranch sits in the 13th spot and will play a Division II and III team and could sneak in with victories.
The Wildcats face the Yellowjackets who come into the match losing twice against the El Centro teams by big margins of 49-28 and 42-14.
Stats are not posted on any sites other than their record being 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the IVL. This is a team coached by George Dagnino who has seen the Wildcats more often than any other coach in the IVL.
With Brawley coming off their tough loss last week and the incentive of beating the Wildcats on their home turf, Palo Verde could make this an interesting evening. The Wildcats must not look ahead to the “Bell Game” of next week against the Central High Spartans. It will be the last game of the season on Warne Field this Friday night at 7pm.