Imperial football blends experience with youth for new season


IMPERIAL — With officially less than two weeks before the kickoff of Imperial Valley’s 2017 high school football, the season is already shaping into an interesting one for the Imperial Tigers football squad as they attempt to utilize their blend of experience and youth to translate into success on the gridiron. With returning starters such as Brandon Hueso at running back and Santiago De La Torre in key positions, the Tiger offensive output will most likely come down to two key components. 


“We will go as far as our up-front in the trenches and our QB will take us,” said Tiger Head Coach Kerry Legarra, who has led the Tigers to three IVL titles since they joined the league in 2009. Imperial has rotated championships with the Brawley Wildcats over the last six years. 


Offensively in the trenches, Kris Walla and senior lineman Sebastian Jimenez will be the veterans as they and the offensive line hope to pave the way for Hueso to a third 1,000-yard season. The senior back has rushed for over 1,000 yards in both his sophomore (1,446 yards)  and junior (1,082 yards) campaigns. 


In the receiving game, Santiago De La Torre is a sure target for successful big yards, but this time, as a well-known target. Last year, De La Torre served as a welcome surprise for the Tiger faithful. While his talent and playmaking abilities were well- known within the squad, he was called to contribute more than what was initially expected after an injury sidelined playmaking receiver David Savage. 


Still just a junior this year, De La Torre is looking to expand on last year’s season and contribute to a successful Tiger campaign. 


“Our first team goal is to win IVL,” said De La Torre of the team’s plans for this season. 


“We want to do better than last year. We want to win more than five games and go over .500 (overall),” he said. 


Defensively, the Tigers welcome back junior Corner Joey Tarango and senior Chris Davila moving from corner to safety. Tarango’s successful sophomore campaign saw him deflect fifteen total passes, and intercepting one. Davila will look to cover the other side of the field by limiting opposing offense options through the air. 


The invert safety combo of senior Justin Denault and junior Nathan Hart, Jr. will provide help over the top as well as underneath, as defensive tackle Jason Luna and middle linebacker Mike Reyes hope to plug the holes in the trenches for opposing running backs. 


“Our team goal this season is to come out and win IVL,” said Reyes, echoing the sentiments of De La Torre.


Games to Watch 


September 1 @ Cibola

The Tigers open the season on the road against Cibola, but are back home for their opener hosting Yuma Catholic. Along with the first chance to see the 2017 Tigers in action at home, it is also “Pop Warner Night.” 


September 15 @ Valley Center

Last year in a nail biter, the Tigers dropped a close game at home to the Jaguars 34-31. The two schools have met on the football field each of the last three years with Valley Center winning all three. They have all been close games that were decided late in the contest with last year’s being the closest. Can the Tigers finally get over the hump? 


October 27 @ Brawley High 

Over the last six years, this has been the game that has decided IVL as the Tigers and the Wildcats have taken turns winning the last six league titles. With both teams fielding young talented teams, this game could shape up into a classic.