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Football preview: Bulldogs set to tangle with Tigers

September 21, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN and JON HINSHAW Sports Writers

When the Calexico and Imperial high school football teams hook up at 7:30 tonight, both will try to use it as a turning point in their seasons.

Imperial will try to put together two halves of good football and bust out of an 0-2 start.

Calexico will try to utilize the part of its offense it has been trying to get going from the get-go — the running game.

"Calexico has some really good team speed. They're well coached, but last week they just got beat by an excellent team," said Imperial coach Mike Swearingen of the Bulldogs' game with Coachella Valley. "But I think our team has improved from our first game to our second game and the outcome will depend on how our team comes out and plays."

"In our first game we played a really good first half but let down in the second half," said Swearingen. "Then in the second game, we didn't play that well in the first half but we had a really good second half. So it's just a matter of playing two good halves of football."

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Leading Imperial will be offensive/defensive lineman Ryan Ferriera and fullback/defensive back Eric Ramirez. According to Swearingen, the two have been bright spots on both sides of the ball.

Ferriera said some of the younger players' inexperience may have contributed to the team's early-season stumbles.

"I think there are guys on this team that do want to go out there and play. But then there are some of the young guys that are still worried about things," said the 17-year-old senior. "But something like that just means that I have to step up even more because I have to worry about other guys. So there's some added pressure on me. But that's my job as a captain."

Calexico coach Richard Gonzalez will try to implement his run-first, pass-second offense, which hit a wall last week against Coachella. The Bulldogs (1-1) finished with only 137 yards total offense, 76 passing and 61 rushing.

Leading the ground game for Calexico will be running backs Vicente Vasquez, Aaron Barrios and Javier Alatorre and quarterback Odin Ayala.

"We want to establish a running game. That's what we've been trying to do. If we can do that, it will open up the passing game," said Gonzalez. "We viewed the film of Imperial's game last week (a loss to Holtville) and we saw that Holtville was able to run on them. But that was last week. It's a different game this week.

"Like I said, we're hoping to get a running game going, regardless of who we're playing," said Gonzalez. "But this week in practice our guys have been gelling and I think they'll be ready for the game."

Another key the Bulldogs will have to focus on is turnovers. In its season opener against Yuma, Calexico turned over the ball once in a 14-7 victory. Last week against Coachella, the Bulldogs committed six turnovers as they got blown out 28-6.

Because of turnovers, Gonzalez said Coachella had good field position all game, putting more pressure on his defense.

Despite the lopsided score, Gonzalez thought his defense held its own against Coachella.

Standouts he pointed to were linebacker Raul Ochoa, defensive back Manual Gomez, Barrios at safety and Alatorre at linebacker.

Said Gomez, a 17-year-old senior who will also play receiver: "As a team we need to execute and just be perfect in all aspects of our game. Last week we weren't connecting as a team, but we've worked a lot on that during practice this week. Now we're playing as a team and we should be ready for this game."

Coming off a 30-2 thrashing of Yuma Catholic last week, Calipatria High will try to make it three wins in a row as it hosts Silver Valley of Yermo.

Silver Valley forced seven fumbles last week, returning two for touchdowns against Ambassador Christian of Fontana.

Leading the Trojans will be outside speed running back Larry Lipsey, who rushed for 100 yards and scored two touchdowns last week. In a primarily running attack, Silver Valley also will feature power running backs Steven Baker and Angel Fontanez.

The Hornets will do much the same as they stick primarily to the ground. Leading the Calipatria attack will be quarterback Jacob Steele, who scored two touchdowns last week, and Zach Taylor, who added another score on the ground.

Kickoff for the Hornets/Trojans matchup is at 7:30 tonight.

On Saturday, Brawley Union High travels to San Diego to take on Clairemont High at 3:30 p.m.

After a 35-6 hammering of Palm Desert last week, Brawley (1-1) will face a Clairemont squad that is 0-2.

In their games against Indio and Palm Desert, the Wildcats played teams that ran the ball 90 percent of the time. This week, they will run into a Chieftain offense prone to throwing the ball.

With all-county tight end Cameron Siskowitzi, listed at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Clairemont will attack the Brawley defense playing out of an I-formation, deploying three or four receivers with a single back at times.

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