IMPERIAL – The California football season has come to an end.
With only State Bowl games remaining this weekend, the Imperial Valley and most San Diego teams have packed it up and have begun resting/planning for next season.
In the Imperial Valley, most of us show our undying, unwavering support toward our alma mater, but no one can deny the special ride that was Imperial Football in 2013.
Going from relatively minor Valley team to taking on the top San Diego teams by season’s end, Tigers provided a spark in an already big “football” county.
Starting with drubbings of Arizona- based teams, winning the early stages of Imperial Valley play, the huge showdown with Brawley, to the almost movie- like comeback win over El Capitan, the Tigers showed they earned the mythical “Team of the Valley” title, and in doing so, they made the Valley proud.
Even in a Division that was one of the toughest in San Diego, a Division that only two Valley teams earned the right to compete, (Brawley being the other), these Tigers ended in the top four. They went to the semi-finals, falling to eventual Division 2 champion, the private, all-boys school, St. Augustine of San Diego. They finished with an overall record of 11-1, only losing in the playoffs, with many individual players setting school and CIF marks.
Some records of mention are Chris Carter breaking the school career passing yards mark, Dajon Staton breaking the career receptions and most receptions in a game mark, and of course, Royce Freemans rewriting almost the entire rushing category in the CIF record book.
Freeman set the most career points, most career touchdowns, and most career yards In CIF San Diego Section history and also earning PPR’s Silver Pigskin Player of the Year award. This ended one of the best high school football careers ever in the Imperial Valley.
“I’ve never been a part of so many people that actually set records, CIF records at that, and seeing my best friend set those records, that was fun too,” said senior wide receiver Dajon Staton, who set a record of ten receptions in a game, himself, against Palo Verde at home.
“It showed our offense is way more diverse,” said Staton when speaking of the record setting night. “We have Royce, Chris, me, we have other weapons, and our defense stepped up big too.”
With the highlight reel, and big play offense leading the headlines, it is also important to note how tough and relentless the defense proved to be, especially in crucial, close moments of the big games of the season.
Stopping Brawley, repeatedly, in a close game before the offense could put it away spoke volumes of the defense’s resolve and nerves.
Proving it wasn’t just a fluke in a “rivalry game” the Tigers defense gave an even more inspiring performance against El Capitan in the second round of the playoffs. Going into the half down 35-21, they were able to hold El Capitan to just seven points in the second half. Their second half play led to a 49-42 victory, where Senior Linebacker Robert Colace was given the Team’s individual player of the game award, in the form on the Chain of Honor.
“We had a great season winning IVL,” said senior linebacker Robert Colace.
“Going from division four to division two and going all the way to the semi-finals was a big statement that our school made for being such a small school and playing all these big schools in San Diego,” said Colace in reflection of the 2013 Imperial Football season.
“I’ve been doing this for thirty-plus years and like I told the players in the past, I’ve had the opportunity to coach a state championship football team as a defensive coordinator, this is the greatest football team I’ve ever been associated with. As far as character for players, the kids themselves, the effort that they gave, they never complained, they did everything we asked of them, and obviously their record shows for itself,” said Tiger Head Coach Kerry Legarra of the 2013 Tigers.
With all the team accomplishments and player accolades, the season that was Imperial football 2013 definitely lived up to its billing, with its share of big plays and special moments, coach Kerry Legarra could not have been more content with his squad. From beginning to end, top to bottom, this team stuck together, united.
Whatever the outcome of each contest, Coach Legarra led the team mantra:
“What’s it start with?”
“I love you”
“What’s it end with?”
“I love you”
“I love all of you too,” ends Legarra.