Â BRAWLEY – The last time a Friday Night was as important as the one this week wasâ€¦ well, last year. (Twice, in fact).Â
Â Since Imperial Tigers joined IVL, they have learned the road to League Championship goes through Brawley.Â
Â The Wildcats, on the other hand, face a foe much better than any team they have faced so far this season or in the past decade, perhaps even longer.Â Â
The atmosphere will be one of great intensity and anticipation. After all is said and done, the winner will be a step closer to their pre-season goals and in a better position for their route of achieving them.Â
Â Â Imperial Tigers come into town ranked 17th overall in San Diego CIF section and 5th according to Maxpreps and 6th in Calpreps in Division II. (SD Section) They bring a potent offense that can light up the scoreboard faster than the US Federal deficit rising.
Royce Freeman needs just over 300 yards to break the San Diego Section all-time rushing title. He is probably the best ever running back to play in the Imperial Valley and those who have been able to see him in action will agree.Â
Years from now, they will be saying, â€œI saw him play his high school yearsâ€. What he does in the future should be nothing short of spectacular.Â
Along with Royce is Chris Carter, the type of quarterback that has given Wildcat defenses headaches the past few seasons. His breakaway speed and his arm make the task of containing him twice as difficult.Â
This one two punch accounts for nearly 80% of the Tigers offense, and yet no team has been able to contain or slow them down. Defensively, they do give up more points than other teams but when a team averages 46 points a game, a touchdown or two here and there shouldnâ€™t hurt you much.Â
They have recovered 5 fumbles and have one interception. They do average 4.5 sacks a game and have numerous players with 25 or more tackles. They have huge wins against Olympian, Sweetwater and Mater Dei.
This yearâ€™s Wildcats have a multitude of running backs that have created a baffling guessing game against the defenses they have faced.Â
Isaac Comparan, Nico Aguirre, Bryce Alexander, Andrew Ortiz and QB Ross Rubio have all had outstanding games throughout the season.Â
Misael Soto would have been included in this group, unfortunately he sustained an injury earlier in the season. Â Donavin Buck is a big target in the passing game when needed.Â
The offensive line of the Wildcats includes Landin Currier, Remingtion Campbell, Isaiah Quiroz, Tony Ramos and Demetrius Lobstein. All but Tony Ramos play defense as well. Making big things happen on defense and allowing less than 7 points a game are Jacob Ordunez, Steven Baeza, Jordan Brewer, Austin Hale, along with Alexander, Ortiz, Aguirre and Comparan.
The Tigers are 1-4 overall against the Brawley Wildcats since it began playing in the IVL. They are favored by one (27-26) on Calpreps projected match predictions. On the same subject, on the same site, Brawley is favored to win (27-26).
This game makes the road to the Division II title a little easier. If the season ended right now, the Imperial Tigers would be playing at home in the first round without a bye week. With a win, it could propel them to a week off and a home game for the quarterfinals.Â
As for the Wildcats, if the season were to end today, the rank of 10th would have them playing away in the first week of the playoffs with a slim chance of a home game. That shows even more the importance of this Fridayâ€™s game for both teams.
Imperial has had a year to prepare for the two losses of last season. They have changed their offense during the off-season and it appears to be more potent. Their new strategy has an undefeated Tiger team going into the contest, whereas both teams entered last yearâ€™s first meeting with a loss each.Â
Brawleyâ€™s only blemish is against the Valley Center Jaguars, which was Imperialâ€™s only loss last year before the two losses against the Wildcats.
My predictions for this Friday: Imperial vs. Brawley should determine first and second place, Central vs. Calexico should determine third and fourth place, and Southwest vs. Palo Verde should determine fifth and sixth.Â
I will go as far as picking Central over Calexico and Southwest over Palo Verde.Â
I will plead the fifth when it comes to the Imperial vs. Brawley game. My only prediction is that it should live up to all the hype it has been given to this point.Â
Best wishes go to both teams and their coaching staff. To the fans, be there early, get your snack bar goodies, sit back and cheer for your alma mater.Â
Gates are scheduled to open at 5:30PM and kickoff is at 7PM.