BRAWLEY — Brawley Football has seen its share of glorious victories and memorable moments. And this year’s senior quarterback Ross Rubio has seen it all. Whether it was going against a talented Imperial squad in the CIF playoffs as a sophomore, bouncing back from a tough junior season, or facing San Diego Section champion and State Finalist, El Capitan High, as a senior, Rubio has been there, quietly, but confidently, orchestrating the Brawley Wildcat offense.
Ross comes from a long list of Rubio’s that stepped onto the gridiron donning Brawley Blue and Gold. This includes three Imperial Valley Football Coaches Association Hall of Famers, uncles Rick and Randy Rubio from the 90’s squads that “brought the bell home”, and his dad, Ronnie Rubio, from the late 70’s early 80’s Wildcat squads that were top level competitors in the tough CIF Southern Section and Desert Leagues.
“I’m very proud that my son helped continue the Brawley Football tradition of winning,” said IVFCA Football Hall of Famer and former Wildcat running and defensive back, Ronnie Rubio, of his son’s high school football career.
“Ross was very fortunate to have great teammates and a solid foundation of coaching throughout his time at Brawley Union High School,” added Ronnie.
Ross’ high school playing career began in an almost movie-like fashion at the end of his sophomore season. As a sophomore, Ross was tasked with learning the offense until his turn under center, which was not expected to be until the following season.
“My first year, I kind of felt like the kid on the team, almost like an observer, because I didn’t play till the end of the year. They even introduced me as baby Rubes in a pep rally. I learned a lot that year,” said Ross Rubio of his sophomore season on the squad.
All was going according to plan, until the 2012 CIF Division IV Quarterfinals at home against the Imperial High Tigers. The Tigers were the favorite, and boasted talent on both sides of the ball, including future Oregon Standout Royce Freeman, West Point Commit Chris Carter, and Navy’s Dexter Bell. The Tigers also had beaten the Wildcats in Wildcat Territory the year before, earning their stake of the 2011 IVL crown.
An injury to senior Quarterback Josh Godinez put the Wildcats in an unenviable position. Could a sophomore quarterback who had no “big time” in game experience help the Wildcats to victory in the playoffs against an ultra-talented rival?
Ross stepped up and surprised many in attendance. He put on a performance few sophomores in his position could have achieved, helping lift the Wildcats to a 26-21 victory under center, ending the Tigers season and putting the Wildcats in the 2012 CIF division IV semi-finals – in only his first real varsity opportunity.
“I felt excited because I didn’t think they were going to put me in. Afterwards, I felt relieved that we were able to win the game and I was part of it. I was happy I stepped up and didn’t let any of my teammates down,” said Ross on his debut on the Wildcat varsity squad.
Watching from the stands was father, Ronnie, who felt nervous given the situation. But he knew Ross had the tools too pull through and contribute positively to the Wildcat effort.
“From Pee-Wee football on he handled pressure well,” said Ronnie on Ross’ ability to stay calm in tough situations.
“I have always told Ross, that if we are prepared for an opponent, good things will happen. The more prepared we are, our chances of success increase.”
The following week the Wildcats fell 18-35 to eventual 2012 division IV champions Madison High of San Diego in a game largely affected by heavy fog. The fog was so heavy it forced announcers out of the press box to field level to call the action for fans in attendance that were unable to make out what was happening in the field.
After only two games as a sophomore, Ross Rubio had seen it all…. Maybe..