I.V. Knights crowned as champs, advance to finals
Imperial Valley Knights quarterback Hector Ayala throws the ball for a long gain during the first quarter of the game with the Palm Desert Coyotes on Saturday at Calipatria High School. (Dennis Jacobelli)
Additionally, the local minor league football team beat the Palm Springs Coyotes 10-6 in a unique showcase in Calipatria last weekend and will represent the Valley in the Las Vegas Bowl later this month.
“It feels really good,” Knights coach Sean Johnson said of the conference championship. “I’m very proud of the guys.
“We’ve been getting compliments from all the other conferences,” he said. “I never expected this great honor, I really didn’t.”
The game against Palm Springs was something Johnson said he would like to try again next season.
“Against the Coyotes, we agreed that each team would have 20 offensive plays in the first half, and then play the second half as if in a regular game,” he said.
“We won that second half 10-6, but we actually scored four times off those 20 first-half offensive plays, and Palm Springs only scored once in those 20 plays,” Johnson said.
Made up of players from local high school graduates, the I.V. Knights were scheduled to play a playoff game against the Arizona Bengals this weekend, a game the Bengals forfeited.
Had the two played the game anyway, the Knights would most likely have won, as they destroyed the Bengals 69-0 earlier this season.
“Right now we’re waiting for the winner of the famous San Diego Thundercats and Las Vegas Cobras to see who we’ll face at the Las Vegas Bowl,” Johnson said.
“The Thundercats have lost just two or three games on American soil, and we were the team that beat them at their own stadium, 14-9,” he said. “The Las Vegas Cobras, we beat them 49-6 even though they’ve been in the league for 13 years.”
Regardless of their opponent, the Knights stand a good chance of coming away from the Las Vegas Bowl the league champions.
“These Imperial Valley Knights, they are something special,” Johnson said. “We have a great shot, and a lot of people are rooting us on.”
One of the leading players for the team hails from Southwest High School, and is expected to help the Knights beat their title opponents.
“Rashad Jones, is our triple threat,” Johnson said. “He runs kickoffs back, he’s our star corner, and we even run offensive plays with him as a deep back.”
With an offense based off Georgia Tech’s and uniforms modeled after the Oakland Raiders, the Imperial Valley Knights are inviting their fans to join them for the Las Vegas Bowl.
“We’re trying for March 24th; it depends on who wins this weekend,” Johnson said. “There will be a team rooter bus for people who want to go.
“It’s $5 to be on the bus, but we’re going to try to do something to help our fans pay for admission to the game,” he said. “We have great fans, who support us everywhere.”