Alumni to suit up Saturday night

December 21, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

For most high school football players, the chance to play one more game at the end of their tenures is an opportunity never afforded to them.

One more game to shine, one more game to compete alongside their best friends and one more game to play in front of friends and family is just a wish for most.

But for Brawley Union, Central Union, Calexico and Imperial high school alumni, a chance to play in one more game is an opportunity they'll have Saturday.

Thanks to Alumni Athletics, a sports organization based in Sacramento, alumni from those schools will get an opportunity to battle in a doubleheader. Alumni from Calexico and Imperial will square off at 4 p.m. at Warne Field in Brawley followed by Brawley and Central colliding at 7.


"We have the tradition with the Bell Game and we just want to help start another tradition with this game," said 24-year-old Victor Torres, a 1994 graduate of Brawley Union High. "When I first read about this, I called and I think I was one of the first to call about playing in this. Then I started getting some of my friends and people I knew to play in this. Now we're just all ready to go out there."

Torres will play safety and will be joined in the defensive backfield by 2000 Brawley graduate Patrick Aguirre.

Only two years removed from high school football, the 20-year-old Aguirre recently wrapped up his second year at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he started at cornerback.

"For me I just wanted to play with some of the guys that I always wanted to play with, like (Torres), and I have a cousin out here, too," said Aguirre. "We're all going to go out and play hard, but we're not trying to get anyone hurt or anything like that. We all just want to have fun out there."

Unlike Aguirre, 1985 BUHS graduate B.C. Roque is not recently removed from high school. At 34, Roque is one of the oldest players on the Brawley squad. But he's not letting that limit him. A former Brawley fullback and linebacker, Roque will serve as a player/coach.

"All former players feel they still have one game left in them, I know that's how I feel. And I just really want to get that feeling back, to just get out and play," said Roque. "When I first heard about this, there was no hesitation at all. I definitely wanted to play. I have a couple of nephews that played football at Brawley recently and I just wanted to show them that their uncle could still play a little."

While Roque and his Wildcat teammates will renew a fierce rivalry with Central, the other game will pit two teams with little history. Still, just getting another opportunity to strap on the pads is worth it for the Calexico and Imperial players. For those players, it's not about who they're lining up against, it's about who they're lining up with.

"This game, for me, is great because I get to see a lot of my old buddies, guys I played with in high school. And you just have that old camaraderie with them," said 1994 graduate Eddie Leal, who will play center for Calexico. "I just can't wait until game day. Once you're out there and you snap the ball and you hear the crunch of the pads, that's what it's all about."

While the game is about camaraderie with old teammates for the 25-year-old Leal, he said it means different things to different players.

For those who never started in high school, they will have the opportunity to start in the alumni game. And those who got little to no playing time will have the chance to contribute significant minutes to the team's cause.

Added Leal's '94 teammate Kiki Alvarado: "When you play your last game and when you graduate you always wish that one day you'll get an opportunity to play one more game. And for us, it came and we took advantage of it. I really missed playing the game and just being out here brought back a lot of memories.

"A lot of us are older now and have a wife and kids and want to be able to play in front of them and in front of all our families and friends. Knowing that we'll be able to do that makes you feel good. So when we go out there, we're just going to play our hardest and give everyone a good show."

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