La Quinta’s 19-6 win over Palm Springs last Friday left Indians head coach Dan Murphy quite impressed. After looking over the film and having four days to replay the entire 60-minute game in his mind, Murphy was left to wonder if anybody in the Central Division would be able to contend with the Blackhawks the rest of the season.
“I think they could make a deep run, even win CIF,” Murphy said Tuesday. “They’re just so big and physical, and they’ve got so much talent.”
Murphy’s squad kept the score close in its game against La Quinta, but the Blackhawks overpowered the Indians on the ground, compiling 383 yards rushing.
La Quinta is averaging a valley-best 316 yards per game running the ball and has a powerful defense that has only allowed an average of just 10.3 points over its last four games.
In the aftermath of last week’s game, La Quinta head coach Dan Armstrong said his team isn’t quite a finished product. (The passing attack needs to be more efficient and the team needs to eliminate costly penalties.) Still, he couldn’t help but wonder just how good this team could have been if several key starters had not been lost for the season with injuries.
“I’m kind of wondering what kind of team we’d be if they were here,” Armstrong said. “I can’t help that. But we like the guys we have, and if we keep playing like this, we’ve got a shot against anybody.”
Riek finding another gear
Trae Riek’s performance Friday was just the latest in what has been a terrorizing three-game Desert Valley League run. The Palm Desert senior running back touched the ball just five times against Indio, yet racked up 153 yards and reached the end zone four times.
Over the last three games, all Aztec wins, Riek has been the most dangerous player in the valley. He’s possessed the ball 74 times for 798 yards and 12 touchdowns. That includes the 99-yard interception return he had against Palm Springs.
The Aztecs went from 1-4 to winning three consecutive in the DVL. Riek’s dominance is a big reason why.
“Trae has been incredible,” Palm Desert head coach Pat Blackburn said Monday. “We’ve had a lot of other guys that have stepped up, but he has been big for us.”
Palm Desert will travel to Coachella Valley this week looking to take one step closer to a DVL title. Riek also will have a chance to build upon his season rushing totals, which now sit at 1,415 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Despite a loss Friday at La Quinta, Palm Springs actually moved up one spot in the latest CIF-SS Central Division poll. The Indians checked in this week at No. 8, leaping Cathedral City, which moved from No. 8 to No. 9 despite a convincing 43-14 win against Coachella Valley.
La Quinta remained No. 6 in the poll and Palm Desert was recognized among four teams on the bubble. That gives the Desert Valley League four teams among the top 14 in the Central Division. No DVL team was ranked to start the season.
That means the DVL has a fair shot to claim the lone at-large bid for the CIF-SS Central Division playoffs. There are five leagues in the division, each with three automatic bids. Sixteen teams make the playoffs. With La Quinta and Palm Desert already clinching spots in the playoffs, Palm Springs or Cathedral City — whichever team finishes fourth in the DVL — still has a good shot of getting into the playoffs.
If the DVL gets four teams in the playoffs, one league coach said it is unlikely the at-large bid would have to play the top seed, as it would be unfair to match the top team in the bracket with a team that has been ranked inside the top 10 for much of the season.
Shadow Hills appeared at No. 9 in the East Valley Division poll for the third week in a row after a 42-0 win against Desert Mirage.
Playoff pairings for the CIF-SS will be released on Sunday, Nov. 10.
Games not played at 7 p.m. Friday
Desert Chapel (8-0) plays at Palm Valley (1-6) for the regular season finale for both teams on Friday at 3 p.m. Xavier Prep (5-3) will be at home against Indian Springs (1-8) at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Shadow Hills (5-3) will travel to Big Bear (6-2) for a 1:30 p.m. matchup that could ultimately decide the De Anza League title. Desert Christian Academy (5-3) will play at 6 p.m. at home against Lancaster Baptist (3-5).