By Chris Furguson
The Imperial Valley League gears up for another rough season starting tomorrow, August 30. Here is your preview of the upcoming season.
Imperial Tigers –
The Imperial Tigers come into the 2013 season with the biggest possible expectations for their program.
Lead athlete Royce Freeman, the Tigers’ running back, safety and punter, will be joined by 21 returning starters on a team that nearly took down the perrenial Brawley Wildcats last year.
While Freeman will be the backbone of the Tigers team, the rest of team isn’t one to ignore, either. Senior Chris Carter returns from a standout year at Quarterback and DaJon Stanton at Wide Receiver along with some of the largest linemen in the Valley.
Defensively, look for linebackers Mark Benedict and Luis Cruz to help keep scores low.
With all this going for the Tigers in 2013, if Kerry LeGarra can’t take the IVL Title for himself, he’ll have a long wait until the next opportunity comes along.
Imperial’s game will be tomorrow against the Cibola Raiders in Yuma.
Brawley Wildcats –
Someone at Brawley Union High School once said of the Wildcats, “No matter what, the ‘Cats come to play.”
This year, however, The Cats may have more of a fight than most realize. This is, in part, due to a stable system thanks to Head Coach Jon Self (who has been on the Brawley sidelines for nearly 20 years).
Last year’s IVL defense MVP, Donavin Buck, returns with Issak Camparan, Bryce Alexander, Ross Rubio, Jordan Brewer and a number of others from last year’s championship team. Unfortunately, Brawley lost a number of their key players due to graduation, including much of their offensive and defensive lines.
Another issue is that several of the starters play on both sides of the ball, which may cause problems as the season wears on.
Still, never fully count the Brawley Wildcats out of the IVL picture.
Brawley’s game will be tomorrow against the Hoover Cardinals of San Diego at Warne Field.
Calexico’s Allan Heck created a unique situation in the border city: a winning team. In fact, the only losses the Bulldogs suffered last year were against the Wildcats and the Tigers.
Backed by the largest lineman in the Valley, Claudio Magana, quarterback Diego Moreno looks lead Calexico to grander heights than the best Valley team south of Aten Road.
The question is, can they break that barrier and spoil the destinies of the Tigers and the Wildcats?
Calexico’s first game will be at home against the Holtville Vikings.
The Spartans have been in a bit of a slump in recent years. In fact, attendance from Central alumni at last year’s Bell Game was pretty sparse.
However, this year the Spartans and head coach Michael Hobbs look forward to a season with 29 seniors on the roster and only 6 starters lost to graduation. With the extra bodies comes specialty positions.
Might this be the year the Spartans surprise everyone and take it all, including the elusive Bell Game at the end of the season?
The Central Spartan’s first game will be in Yuma against the Kofa Kings.
If anything could be considered a “problem” on the Eagles, it’s a lack of stable coaching.
New head coach Joe Conner inherits an Eagles team that has a fair number of underclassmen and a solid team in the trenches, but this may be a rebuilding year for Southwest.
Southwest’s first game will be at home against CETYS of Tijuana, Mexico.
Palo Verde Yellowjackets-
Palo Verde coach George Dagnino’s team had a major meltdown last year, losing five IVL games in a row after a 3-2 start. They also see five starters return for both offense and defense.
Yellowjacket senior Damien Ramirez returns after missing his Junior campaign due to injury and looks to have a big year, but a wait-and-see approach is expected from the Palo Verde faithful.
Palo Verde’s first game will be at home against the Calipatria Hornets.