The 2020 Brawley High School Wildcat football season will go down as one of the most unique football seasons in history. It was a season on the brink of not occurring at all. It was salvaged with the efforts of many. Because of the “Let Them Play” movement, the first game of the short schedule soon exposed who should be recognized as the “Standout.” The Standout obviously had to go the Wildcat football fan, not just those of the 2020 season, but to all fans of the past century.
While Brawley football started around 1921, whose fans are no longer here, throughout the years the following fans and Standouts have stood with the Wildcats for a century.
To all those fans who went through the era of the Coach Farrell days — all the compliments and memories of the best coach ever at Brawley High. Coach Farrell was the epitome of the Wildcat fan.
To all those who remember the ultimate fan as Tiger Underwood. The team mascot who was present at all homes games and some away games. Dressed in his unusual get up, “Tiger” as he was called by all, brought smiles and pride to Wildcat fans. He was a Standout at the Cattle Call Parade as well. Tiger often gave a pre-game speech to the players that was loved and respected by the entire team for many generations.
To all those fans who attended away games — many fans travel to games in San Diego, Riverside, and Yuma County. Fans from Brawley or ex-Wildcat fans who live outside of Brawley will always be found at those games. At times, you will experience a reunion of alumni at away games who haven’t seen each other in years or decades and reminisce about the good old days.
To all the fans who use football games to meet family out of town — those not living in Brawley can be heard asking if certain stores or restaurants are still open. They could also be heard talking of the times when they were students at Brawley High and their memories would solicit many a story.
To all the fans at home games who attend year in and year out — the fans who sat in the same area of the stands, whether they were the reserved seats or not. Those fans are the backbone of the Wildcat fan base. The first home game of the season saw many returning fans happily greeting each other in anticipation of the upcoming football season. One fan in particular, Mr. Miguel Jaramillo, who is no longer with us, could always be seen sitting in his wheelchair in the dedicated section on the east portion of the stands. I always greeted him with a hug before the start of a game, sort of like a ritual or gesture for good luck that often worked out for a win.
To the fans who would park behind the visitors stands before either Soto Field or the Little League parks were constructed — along the canal bank, those fans could be seen with barbecue grills enjoying the game and listening to the KROP broadcast on the radio.
To all the fans who support the Wildcat’s through the good times and the bad — whether it was a great win or a heartbreaking loss, with 15,000 fans proving it at Qualcomm in 2004 in a game like no other, and none since. There probably will never be a season like 2004, it was the ultimate football gathering for Brawley Wildcat football fans. It was definitely the largest tailgate party to have occurred for a high school football championship game, as well as the best smelling one from the scents of barbeques fired up.
To the fans who did not attend the Qualcomm game but stayed behind in “Brawley Ghost Town” as it was described by many — everywhere you went, someone was listening to the radio broadcast of the game. Schools were open but many students were at the game that day.
To the fans who shed tears in our most trying times of sadness as Brawley tragically lost two greats within a few hours of each other — those being player Brian James Thomas and coach and mentor Clark Wesley Seybert. While it was devastating to all, it did bring the community of Brawley and the entire Imperial, Yuma, San Diego, other southern California counties together.
To all the fans who have worked, coached, and volunteered to help with the success of Wildcat football program — this includes field maintenance crews, announcers at home games, the Shank Chain Gang who have been doing this for a half century or longer. It also includes those coaches who wore the blue and gold in their glory years and managed to stay around to build for the next generation.
And finally, to this year's locked out fan — being the distinctive season it was, and beginning later in the school year, the Standout was there to greet and cheer our players from afar, including a caravan following the team bus to Holtville and standing outside the fence, cheering.
This is for the Brawley Wildcat fan. A fan base I like to compare to as a “Little Texas” when it comes to the pride and dedication of high school football. The fan who can recite the “Alma Mater” word-for-word even if they only sing it a few times a year. To the Wildcat football fan, you are the Standout of the Year in a year where you were limited in attendance which didn’t prevent you from watching the game online. It has been a tough season for everyone, especially the Wildcat fan.