Brawley boys get a Wildcat send-off

Members of the Brawley boys Peewee Football team make their way down the Brawley Plaza kiosk stairs into a waiting crowd of friends and family at their pep rally Thursday. The team will head to Florida for the national championships.

BRAWLEY – The community of Brawley came out Thursday night for a pep rally to send off the Brawley PeeWee Football team at the town Kiosk to pump the players up for their American Youth Football Championship in Florida.

The Brawley team consists of 35 boys ages 9 to 11.  This the first year Brawley PeeWee Football has competed in the American Youth Football league. Brawley beat out teams in the Southern division from the Imperial Valley, Desert Valley, Indio, Lake Havasu, and Kingman. The team won the league with a 10-1 record this year in their first season.

The boys received a full Wildcat send off from the community Thursday with a short pep rally organized by their families and the community at the Brawley Plaza park, complete with blue and gold decorations for the plaza kiosk and signs. The Brawley Union High School cheerleading squad also performed for the rally.

Assistant Coach Henry Padilla said he wanted to do the pep rally to fire up the boys for the championships.

“We figured that the high school does it, why not give these guys a taste?” said Padilla. “They worked their butts off.”

Head Coach Joe Serrano said he is looking forward to seeing how the boys do at the championships.

“Hopefully we go over there and represent the Valley well,” said Serrano. “They’ve earned this opportunity, and we’re just excited to see what the boys can do.”

Brawley will be facing off against teams from Maryland, Nevada, New York, and two other California teams. For most of the boys, this will be their first trip to Florida as well as first time flying. Many of the team members said they were more nervous about flying than they were about playing in the championships, but they were eager to get out to Florida.

“I’m excited, I’m not very nervous at all,” said Robert Platt.

“I’m not nervous to play the teams,” said Chris Camillo. “Just for the flying!”

“I feel like the competition is going to be just as nervous as us,” Zane Richards said.

On Friday morning they will leave for Florida, and the Brawley team will play Monday through Wednesday. The teams winning in the first games will go on to the championship game on Friday, coaches said.

“All the blood, sweat, and tears paid off,” said Assistant Coach Juan Lopez. “They are the future.”

It took a community effort to pay for the team to fly out to Florida. Coaches and players raised money selling raffle tickets, and donations came in from sponsors within the Brawley community. Serrano stated the largest donations came from IV Respite, Inland Respite, and Alcantra and Santian Services.

The AYF Championship can be watched online at Fields 1-5 will have live coverage on the day of the games at 9 a.m. EST.