There are only three more chances left in the high school football season to build your resume, starting tonight. Here are this week’s games and what you can expect from each one.
La Quinta (4-3, 3-0) at Palm Desert (1-6, 0-3)
There is an odd feeling about this year’s installment of probably the best football rivalry in the desert, the battle for the Victory Flag. Usually, both teams are on their way to a playoff berth, and the intensity of the rivalry amps up a great game between two great teams. This year, however, Palm Desert is struggling. The Aztecs won their season opener but have lost six games in a row. A playoff bid is all but mathematically out the window. La Quinta, on the other hand, is playing well. They are the No. 7-ranked team in Division 5 and are 3-0 in DVL play. Making what looks like a lopsided game on paper even more dangerous for the Aztecs is that they happen to be the current owners of that coveted piece of cloth. Everyone on both sides remembers when the Aztecs finally broke their 10-year hex and took the flag back from La Quinta with a 27-20 win last season. Heading into what may be his last year, something tells me Dan Armstrong wants to get that flag back. The one caveat, though, is it is a rivalry game, and much like the Bell Game earlier this year that felt like a mismatch on paper, the underdog often plays its best game.
READ MORE: Dan Armstrong talks life after football
READ MORE: This week’s high school picks
Cathedral City (2-5, 1-2) at Indio (1-5, 0-2)
Let’s give one last shoutout to the Rajahs. Indio sent shock waves through DVL circles by upsetting Xavier Prep last week, picking up its first league win in 24 tries. Running back David Alvarado, who Desert Sun readers picked as our player of the week, has been a workhorse all year for the Rajahs. On both ends of the ball, keep your eyes on No. 28. The Lions, meanwhile, are coming off of a bye week and need a strong finish to even be considered in the Division 12 playoff hunt. A win over Indio is a must.
Palm Springs (5-3, 3-1) at Shadow Hills (6-2, 3-1)
Don’t look now, but the Indians are playing some solid football over the last month, and pollsters have noticed. For the first time all year, the Indians have cracked into the rankings, sitting at No. 8 in Division 4. Palm Springs has won 4 out of 5 with the only loss being a four-pointer to La Quinta. It’s been the defense that has been leading the way for the Indians, yielding just 41 points in the last four games combined. They’ll face a Shadow Hills team licking its wounds from a thumping at the hands of La Quinta last Thursday. This is a big game for the Knights. A win against a ranked Division 4 team will do wonders for its postseason prospects in Division 10. The winner of this game will probably wind up in second place in the DVL, but remember that is not a playoff guarantee like it used to be. This is the first-ever meeting of these two schools.
Rancho Mirage (5-2, 2-0) at Yucca Valley (6-1, 1-1)
The only matchup this week pitting two ranked teams, the Rattlers look to all but lock up the De Anza League title with a win over the Trojans. Rancho Mirage, already 2-0 in league play with wins over top-half talents Coachella Valley and Twentynine Palms, finishes the season with two games against the bottom two teams in the league so this likely will be the last true test for the Rattlers before the playoffs start. Rancho Mirage, ranked No. 4 in Division 12, will need to focus its defensive attention on Yucca Valley running threat Lucas Lopez, one of the best in the area. The Trojans, coming off their first loss of the season, are No. 7 in Division 13.
Desert Hot Springs (1-6, 1-1) at Coachella Valley (5-2, 1-1)
Both teams come into this game riding high. The Golden Eagles, whose offense has really picked up in recent weeks behind quarterback Sirvon Campbell and the versatile Baylee Carter, picked up their first win of the year last week over Desert Mirage. Coachella Valley, an honorable mention team in Division 11, had its best win of the season, handing Yucca Valley its first loss. I hope the scoreboard is in working order at Coachella Valley High, because this one could be a high-scoring tilt. I wouldn’t be surprised if both teams eclipsed 30 points.
Desert Mirage (0-7, 0-2) at Twentynine Palms (4-3, 1-1)
It’s been a long year for the Rams, and it’s not likely to get better with three difficult games remaining, starting with this road trip to Twentynine Palms. They might run into an angry group of Wildcats, too, as Twentynine Palms suffered its worst defeat in two years last week, a 38-3 loss at Rancho Mirage. Gaining confidence and using playing time as a teaching tool will be the operative plans for coach Jeff Tebelak and the Rams the rest of the year.
University Careers and Sports Academy (0-5) at Desert Chapel (1-6, 0-3)
It’s been a struggle for the Eagles this year, particularly on the defensive end. They’ve yielded more than 50 points in all six of their losses and 68 or more in all three league defeats. They step out of league this week to face a team playing in its first season. Look for the Eagles to break the losing streak and pick up a confidence-building win.