Ea­gles, Wild­cats prepped for clash

Imperial Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - BY KA­RINA LOPEZ Sports Writer

EL CEN­TRO — The South­west and Braw­ley Union High foot­ball teams are gear­ing up for what is sure to be an in­tense and ex­cit­ing game here on Fri­day night.

The 6-0 Ea­gles are set to host the 4-2 Wild­cats in a key Im­pe­rial Val­ley League con­test that could help paint an early pic­ture of this year’s IVL cham­pi­onship team.

Both teams are com­ing off week six vic­to­ries with South­west de­feat­ing Cen­tral Union High School, 35-6, and Braw­ley han­dling Palo Verde Val­ley, 53-6, last week.

Last year, the team’s played to a fi­nal score of 17-0 in fa­vor of Braw­ley, who went on to claim the 2016 IVL ti­tle.

The Ea­gles are con­fi­dent this could be their year to snag an IVL crown, yet stand­ing in their way is a his­tor­i­cally suc­cess­ful Wild­cat pro­gram, fol­lowed by an­other ti­tle con­tender in Im­pe­rial High School on Oct. 20.

As they have since 2015, the Ea­gles en­ter their game against the Wild­cats with­out a blem­ish on their record.

While South­west has strug­gled with Braw­ley the past few sea­sons, they en­ter the game with a de­fense that has only al­lowed 30 points on the sea­son.

This has helped build the Ea­gles’ con­fi­dence as they pre­pare to face their tough­est chal­lenges yet.

“It’s going to be a very good game,” said South­west se­nior Wy­att Ma­son. “It’s going to test us and it’s going to test them. We’re both good teams that have come to­gether to face off on the grid­iron.”

Ma­son said an­other strong com­po­nent of this year’s South­west team is its chem­istry.

Fel­low se­nior Jonathan Puga agreed that the Ea­gles have been mesh­ing well in their past few games.

“Our team’s been look­ing pretty strong for the past week, es­pe­cially with our good win that we got last week against Cen­tral,” he said.

On the of­fen­sive side of the ball, the Ea­gles have a hand­ful of of­fen­sive weapons at their dis­posal.

South­west is led by run­ning back and re­ceiver Tyler Saikhon, quar­ter­back Cameron Jungers and an ad­di­tional back in Justin Cor­dova, who has been on the mend and pro­vided South­west with good yards against Cen­tral.

“It’s going to be a very good match up for peo­ple to see,” Puga said. “It’s going to be a hard­fought game that’ll come down to wire at the end of the game.” which has al­ways been a strong suit for Braw­ley.

“We have to know what we’re do­ing and we have to want to play and bring that Braw­ley de­fense that we bring ev­ery year,” said se­nior line­backer An­thony Batt, re­gard­ing the Wild­cats’ de­fen­sive rep­u­ta­tion.

As the de­fend­ing IVL champs, Batt said he’s more than aware of the tar­get on the team’s back and is em­brac­ing the chal­lenge of de­fend­ing the ti­tle.

“What I’m look­ing for­ward to most is the crowd and see­ing ev­ery­one there,” Batt said. “Our home town sup­port­ing us all the way like they have been all year. It feels good to know that they’re there, watch­ing us do what we do best.”

Also an­tic­i­pat­ing Fri­day’s matchup is de­fen­sive line­man, Alek Aguirre.

“I feel good going into Fri­day,” Aguirre said. “We’ve been pre­par­ing like we have for any other game. We take IVL week by week and over­come ev­ery chal­lenge. We’re not tak­ing any team for granted. We’re anx­ious, we re­ally want to step out on that field.”

Kick­off is set for 7 p.m. at South­west High’s Ea­gle Field.

Watch the game live at iv­pres­son­line.com

South­west High’s Tyler Saikhon runs the ball dur­ing a play in their team prac­tice in El Cen­tro on Wednesday. VIN­CENT OSUNA PHOTO

Braw­ley Union High quar­ter­back Casey Kline makes a pass to a re­ceiver dur­ing their team prac­tice on Tues­day in Braw­ley. VIN­CENT OSUNA PHOTO

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