BRAWLEY — Warne Field was the venue for the first round of the San Diego CIF Division II football playoffs with the IVL Champion Brawley Union High School Wildcats hosting the Westview High School Wolverines on a Cattle Call Friday evening.
With more yellow flags flying than bullets at an OK Corral gunfight, a total of nearly 190 penalty yards were accumulated by both teams. The visiting Wolverines’ defense took advantage of the five turnovers they created, building a 28-0 lead before the Wildcats’ first score and advanced to the next round with a convincing 35-7 win.
The Wildcats went on offense to open the game with good field position at their 36-yard line. Brawley converted two first downs, one rushing and one passing, but the fifth play of the game would be the first of four interceptions, giving the Wolverines the ball at their 20-yard line.
Westview used four plays and a little more than a minute of clock to drive 80 yards for the first score. Behind game rushing leader AJ Leonard (25 carries for 277 yards and four touchdowns), he accounted for 70 yards that included a 50-yard breakaway for a 7-0 lead with 8:23 left in the first quarter.
Brawley’s next drive only lasted three plays when another Wolverine lassoed an interception at the Wildcat 35-yard line and returned it to the one. Westview took advantage and two plays later, quarterback Beau Nelson snuck it in for a 14-0 lead with 6:47 left in the opening quarter.
Field position was not in their favor for the next Wildcat drive as they began at their own 13-yard line and produced a three and out (punt).
The Wolverines were near midfield for their next possession and moved the ball to the Brawley 12-yard line, but penalties and a warmed up Wildcat defense prevented a score.
After another three and out, the Wildcats punted and Westview began the second quarter on their 30-yard line. This drive would be the most decorated, in plays and penalty flags, in the game. During this scoring drive, one of three warnings was issued for possible ejections. In the game, Westview had two players and their coach receive unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that would have had them ejected on a second. The drive, though, took the clock down to the 4:42 mark of the second quarter and the Wolverines increased their lead to 21-0 on a short, one-yard burst by Leonard.
The Wildcats found a way to drive the ball into Westview territory but a costly fumble gave the ball right back to the Wolverines on their 37-yard line. From there, it took two plays for the scoreboard to show 28-0 when Leonard went 56 yards for a touchdown with 0:52 seconds left in the half.
Brawley’s leading rusher for the season, and possibly for the entire San Diego CIF section, Austyn Gutierrez, was guaranteed a 2,000 yard season with the first carry of the Wildcat drive that began on their 20-yard line. A drive lasting only nine seconds, found Gutierrez in the end zone with an electrifying 80-yard touchdown. The score was now 28-7 following the point-after kick by Braulio Guzman and the score held until the half ended.54
The third quarter had both teams’ defenses tighten as they forced three punts for Brawley and two punts and a turnover on downs by the Wolverines. After three quarters the score remained 28-7. The last score of the game was a drive that started at the 8:09 mark of the fourth quarter. With the ball on their own 44-yard line, Westview used five plays to increase their lead. The final scoring play was a 38-yard run for Leonard with 5:48 left in the game.
The win for the Westview Wolverines advances them into the next round where they will face the #1 seeded Poway Titans. Earlier in the season, Poway beat Westview by the score of 31-6. For the Brawley Wildcats, the season ends with their record at 7-4, an IVL Title and a Bell Game victory. The 2016 season will be wrapped up in a future story on The Desert Review. A big thanks to all those that made this IVL Champion season happen that includes the coaches, players and all the fans.