IMPERIAL – The 2013 Imperial Valley League Football season was one to remember as schools and locals witnessed exiting competitive action week in and week out.
With the summer coming to an end, weight rooms are packed, school field lights are on and the valley is exited as football season is almost upon us.
The football theme this year is â€˜Reload and Re-launch,â€™ as most teams are realizing massive losses of last yearâ€™s graduating class. One of those teams ready to Re-load is the defending Imperial Valley League Champions, the Imperial High Tigers.
Last yearâ€™s Tiger team broke school and CIF records and boasted an undefeated regular season record. They sent two players to Division I Collegiate programs and many more to Junior Colleges throughout the nation, all on the way to the CIF division II semi-finals where they fell to eventual champion, the private school of St. Augustine.
With losses on both sides of the ball, the Tigers hope to reload with a young group of players as well as returning players who will provide the experience from a deep playoff run last year which ended just one game short of the finals.
Defensively, the Tigers will rely on the leadership of senior linebackers Mark Benedict and Justin Huerta as well as Senior Cornerback Zeke Hernandez. Joining them will be Juniors Sal Perez and Marco Miranda, rounding out the returning starting secondary for the Tigers.
Offensively, junior quarterback Aaron Bonillas plans on making his first season as a starter one to remember as he joins fellow junior and â€œgrizzledâ€ veteran running back, Carlos Villanueva, behind the offensive line.
Villanueva was the youngest tailback on last yearâ€™s squad and scored the game winner touchdown in last yearâ€™s home playoff victory over El Capitan. As the squadâ€™s most experienced, he will be joined by a young group of talented backs as well as Senior Mark Benedict- if called upon to pull double duty.
Looking to pave the way for their backfield runners will be a young offensive line led by returning Senior Lineman Seth Culp. Culp looks to lead the next generation of the Imperial House of Pancakes as well as the Tiger offense in the trenches on the line of scrimmage.
â€œThe past is history and it is this teamâ€™s turn to start and establish their own legacy. Only the good Lord knows what that will be, but I can tell you the coaches, players and school are exited about the upcoming season,â€ said Imperial Tiger Head Coach Kerry Legarra in anticipation of the upcoming season.
With returning players holding deep playoff experience on both sides of the ball, plus an IVL Champs target on their backs, this season promises to be yet another exiting one as Imperial Tiger fans eagerly await the first kickoff of the season set for next Friday at home against the Cibola Raiders.
â€œOur first and primary goal is to win IVL. Whatever happens after that is icing on the cake,â€ Legarra added.
Imperial games to watch
Sept 29th vs Valley Center Jaguars
Perennial CIF powerhouse Valley Center will make their second Imperial Valley appearance this year as the Tigers of Imperial hope to gain some retribution at home after dropping a road matchup to the Jaguars on the road two years ago. Valley Center is one of the most accomplished teams in San Diego and over the past ten years have won their CIF division five times, four times in Division IV and once in Division III. They will also be making the trek to the Valley to take on Brawley earlier in the year.
October 24th vs. Brawley Wildcats
Speaking of Brawley, the Tigers will be looking to make a statement early in IVL play when the Wildcats make their way to town in yet another Tiger-Wildcat meeting. Since Imperial’s introduction to IVL play five years ago, this annual meeting has provided Imperial Valley football fans with thrilling finishes. Â These teams have been trading IVL titles back and forth for the past three years, so all eyes will be on this game.