For those wondering if the Desert Valley League gets the respect it deserves when it comes to football, look no further than the All-CIF Southern Section teams, which are expected to be released Monday.
Eight DVL players were selected to the 41-player Central Division First Team, with three of the league’s teams among the 11 in the division earning representation. The DVL was one of only two of the five leagues to have at least three teams represented.
Four of those eight players came from La Quinta, two from Palm Desert and two from Cathedral City. There were only four teams in the entire 32-team division that had more representation than the Blackhawks, who shared the 2013 DVL title with Palm Desert.
Part of that can be attributed to the Blackhawks beating Eisenhower, the winner of a very difficult Citrus Belt League, on Oct. 4. They also handily beat two Riverside schools, J.W. North and Arlington.
La Quinta head coach Dan Armstrong, who attended the All-CIF meeting representing the DVL, said the league is slowly gaining respect throughout the division as its teams go outside the valley and stay competitive in the non-league.
Fresno State commit Ben Simonds led the valley’s First Team group, and was joined by La Quinta teammates Patrick Lucas, Dominic Aguirre and DVL Offensive Player of the Year Vince Guzman. Trae Riek and Kyle Kabeary represented the Aztecs, and James Rodriguez and DVL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Lomboy were recognized from the Lions.
The amount of respect Cathedral City received was quite remarkable considering the Lions did not even make the Central Division playoffs. Six of the teams that did, however, were not even represented with a single player on the First Team.
Among those teams was Palm Springs, which beat the Lions in the regular season finale to claim the DVL’s final automatic playoff spot. The Lions were passed over by Arlington for the at-large bid.
“They weren’t a playoff team, but they should’ve been,” Armstrong said of the Lions. “And they had a better record than most playoff teams, so I let everyone know what I thought of them as a team at the All-CIF meeting.”
Hiram Rodriguez and Samuel Garcia of Shadow Hills each made the All-CIF East Valley Division First Team.
Darius Griffin of La Quinta, Eddie Arizmendi of Palm Springs and Garin Mesarch of Palm Desert were all selected to the All-CIF Central Division Second Team.
First and Second teams were made up from the All-league teams within the division. For instance, the players that made the First Team were the ones that garnered the most votes among league coaches at their position.
That is in part how Cathedral City had two players on the First Team. Lomboy was deemed the top linebacker in the DVL by a vote of league coaches; Rodriguez the top wide receiver.
Kabeary was voted the top quarterback in the DVL, yet only one player at that position made the All-CIF First Team. So the Palm Desert senior, who was selected All-DVL at four different positions, made the All-CIF team as a utility player.
In recent years, there has been a lot of chatter around the valley that the DVL may not get the respect it deserves.
While that may still be the case moving forward, that argument may not be as rock solid as it once was based upon the representation the league garnered on this year’s All-CIF team.
“I still think there’s a bias for Riverside schools,” Armstrong said. “But we’re closing the gap, and I think and the only way to do that is to keep playing teams outside the league and beating them.”