Two locals host football games tonight

August 31, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

By Sept. 7, all Imperial Valley high school football teams will have kicked off their seasons, all with title aspirations.

For two local schools, Calipatria and Southwest, though, the quest for a gridiron crown begins tonight.

Because of bye weeks later in the season, the two schools will begin their seasons earlier than other Valley teams.

In Calipatria, the Hornets will take on Antelope High at 7 p.m. while Southwest will host Lincoln Academy of San Diego at 7:30 p.m.

New Southwest coach Jerry Storts will have his work cut out for him as his Eagles will take on a Lincoln squad that was runner-up in the City Conference.

"We know that Lincoln is fast and extremely quick. But they also lost 14 seniors from last year, so they have a lot of players from last year's (junior varsity)," said Storts. "They have a staff that's been there for awhile and has been running the same system for the past few years.


"We've seen some film on what they did last year. So we're not going in blind, but at the same time we are, because we haven't seen what they have now," Storts said. "I know they're going to try to utilize their speed, going with a pro set, running counters and sweeps."

To try to neutralize the Hornet offense, the Eagles will rely on their Imperial Valley-leading defense from last year, which allowed only a little more than 150 yards per game.

Offensively, Southwest will run a wing-T formation utilizing the power running games of seniors Ernie Gradillas and Chris Gonzales. For changes of pace, senior Terrance Johnson and junior Eddie Conner will provide speed on the outside.

"We know Lincoln is a good team but I think we have the talent to win this game," said 15-year-old Conner. "We've been practicing pretty hard and are looking forward to playing them."

Helping lead the Eagle offense will be 16-year-old junior quarterback Matt Petree.

Said Petree: "This is a pretty important game for us. We want to go out and set the tempo and the standard for the whole season. They're a good team, but with the offense we're running now we have a few different ways of beating them."

In Calipatria, Stuart Black's Hornets will take on an Antelope team from Wellton, Ariz., that will test the Calipatria defense through the air with a run-and-shoot style offense.

That could pose a problem for new Hornet defensive coordinator Jeff Deyo, who has no returning players from last year's secondary.

"(Antelope) isn't physically huge, but they have some pretty good athletes. I know they have a real good quarterback who's going to throw on us," said Black. "Because we don't have anyone returning from our secondary, that is a concern and will be a test for us."

While Black will use junior running back Alex Sanchez and sophomore Regan Kaalekahi to keep things rolling on the ground, he said he will go up top more often as well. Black will utilize the passing duo of senior quarterback Jacob Steele and lineman turned tight end Alex Fairley.

"Yeah, we are going to be running the same offense we have been, but we're definitely going to be throwing a lot more," said Black. "I mean, the score of this game could range anywhere between that of a basketball game or a baseball game.

"Even though we're starting before everyone else, we're playing this like any other regular season game."

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