I have a “bag of goodies” to keep my equipment, binders and other accessories needed to cover Friday night football games. In it is the most important object that keeps my perspective as a fan and a sports writer. That object is a 2006 Brawley Wildcats football program. Someone inevitably sees it thinking it is this year's program. Upon seeing the year, I get questioned as to why I have that particular program. They think I might have had a relative on the team that year, but I reply “No, it’s my reality check program.”
As the football season begins to transition into the league chases in the Manzanita and IVL leagues, there are teams making their case to launch into the November playoffs.
Holtville and Vincent Memorial, both with 6-1 records, will be in contention to challenge for the CIF-SDS Division V title, along Palo Verde Valley Yellowjackets, who could be a legitimate contender. The Yellowjackets however must survive the tough IVL schedule that will prepare them better than the Vikings’ and the Scots’ program.
Once in the playoffs anything can happen. Yellowjacket losses to Central, Imperial or Brawley will not hurt them, but Southwest and Calexico are must-win situations.
Holtville and Vincent Memorial must beat all upcoming opponents to remain in the number one and two spots, respectively. The game between the two could very well decide the Manzanita League title and be the prelude to the Division V tittle game.
The big question to look into the future is this: Will CIF San Diego have that game played in the Imperial Valley if it does occur? Or will both teams have to travel to San Diego when the schools are about 15 miles apart?
The IVL is a different animal in itself. Four teams are in Division III (Central, Imperial, Brawley and Southwest), Calexico is in Division IV and Palo Verde is in Division V.
I am surprised that the Calexico Bulldogs have not come close to a CIF San Diego title. They are the third largest school in CIF San Diego and should be in contention for either the Division IV or V title. They have been in Division IV since the new divisions were put in place.
Southwest High School has not had the success it did previously, and doesn’t appear in the running for the post season. But this is high school football and anything can happen.
Most believe the Central Spartans are unarguably a shoo-in for the IVL title. If history repeats itself, Central will be the only school in over 10 years to consecutively win IVL outright. A strong showing in El Paso was followed by two losses, exposing their vulnerability.
Whether these teams take the advantage will remain to be seen this month. The addition of transferred players who missed the first five Central games is also an unknown.
The Imperial Tigers are a team greatly improved by its “moxie” schedule. They had a great showing against the impossible-to-beat team, Valley Center. It is impossible to beat the Jaguars at Gilsterland (Head Coach) for some odd reason. Must be the air in the mountains. The Tigers will challenge for the IVL title and their first step will be the Brawley Wildcats. Some say the winner of Friday’s game is a lock for second place and are already crowning the Spartans as Champions, but I say otherwise. It will be a great step in the right direction. The Brawley Wildcats are in contention where it was believed this would be a rebuilding off-year due to a young team led by a younger quarterback.
Taking a big step in a positive direction, it appears the Wildcats are comfortable with their chances of capturing the IVL Title. The players have responded positively even after some tough losses. The Imperial Tigers at Brawley’s Warne Field October 4 was the biggest game up to this point of the season.
As for why I still carry the old program of 2006, it is a solemn reminder that this is more than a football game of wins and losses. Most of these players will not be playing past their high school years, and play just for pride of their school and the sport.
The 2006 season reminds me that there is much more to lose than a game. Player safety is far more important than it all. So, as I open up my “bag of goodies” each week, I say a little silent prayer for each of the players and their families.
Best wishes and luck to ALL the teams of the Imperial Valley in BOTH leagues.