Strong chemistry and solid returnees build hopes for Southwest football

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EL CENTRO - After a deep flight through the Division IV CIF playoffs that ended with falling just one game short of the title, the Southwest High School Eagles enter this season ranked as the number two team in Division III with plans to rattle things up in Imperial Valley League by breaking through to the championship.

The Eagles’ offense will not miss a stride as the senior triptych of QB Cameron Jungers, WR Tyler Saikhon, and RB Justin Cordova will return to torment defenses for one more season.

“Having team chemistry and knowing what your teammate on the side of you is going to do is important,” said Saikhon.  “As freshmen playing together, we performed really well and we are all still really close to each other and it’s our last year, so we need to go all out.”

Jungers threw for over 850 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. Meanwhile, Saikhon (1,272) and Cordova (677) were just 51 yards shy of rushing for a combined total of 2,000 yards at 1,949 in 2017.

“We can run and pass and we love scoring touchdowns,” stated Saikhon.

Cordova scored nine touchdowns last year, and Saikhon crossed the pylon 30 times.

“We are all fast and can put up points, but we lost a significant amount of starters on defense last year. Luckily, we have solid players that can fill those roles,” Jungers said.

Despite a strong performance in the playoffs, Southwest struggled against the top tier of the IVL teams. Tough losses to Brawley and Imperial prevented the Eagles from claiming the IVL title.

“Our short term aspirations are to just get as good as we can before the season gets going and staying healthy,” shared Jungers.  “Long term, we are trying to compete in league and as far as possible into the playoffs,” he added.

Staying healthy may be the difference maker this season, as last year, a booming hit on Jungers resulted in a clavicle injury that seemingly ended his season.

Even though Jungers was able to return for the CIF semi-final, the missed time in between games stunted the progression of that all-important mid-season team chemistry.

“Even though it was disappointing, we have to use last year’s playoff loss as motivation,” Saikhon said.

“We are really hungry. It was tough losing that game in the semi-final,” Jungers concluded. “Most of us have been playing together since freshmen. We’ve got the chemistry down and we’re ready to go for it.”