Calexico High School senior running back Ernie Sanchez (21) sprints down field for a touchdown during the Bulldogs’ CIF-San Diego Section Division V playoff win over Maranatha Christian High of San Diego in Calexico. Sanchez earned second team All-Imperial Valley League honors for his play this season. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. FILE PHOTO
CALEXICO — After a magical season that saw the Calexico High School football team reach the CIF-San Diego Section Division V semifinals, the Bulldogs had five players named to the All-Imperial Valley League teams.
Calexico, 7-6 overall and 1-3 in the IVL, won a home playoff game for the first time since the 1980s when the Bulldogs dominated Maranatha Christian High of San Diego, 34-3. They also won a second playoff game when they traveled to Holtville and beat the Vikings 14-12 in the Division V quarterfinals.
Calexico’s season came to an end in the Division V semifinals, losing to Mission Bay, 41-7.
“These kids had that hard work mentality that showed up to do whatever was necessary every day,” said Fernando Solano, Calexico High’s head coach. “The all-league honors are well deserved for our guys and what they did sets the foundation for future Calexico teams.”
Earning a spot on the All-IVL First Team Offense was Calexico senior center Christian Martinez, who was key to opening up the rushing attack for the Bulldogs. Earning a spot on the All-IVL Second Team Offense was Calexico senior running back Ernie Sanchez.
Sanchez gave the Bulldogs a break-away threat and had his best game of the season against crosstown rival Vincent Memorial when he had more than 200 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
With Brawley winning the IVL championship, the Wildcats dominated the All-IVL voting with junior quarterback Ethan Gutierrez winning the Offensive Player of the Year award, with Brawley senior Jorge Haro earning the Kicker of the Year distinction and Wildcats’ head coach Jon Self being named Coach of the Year.
The rest of the All-IVL First Team offense is Brawley’s Julius Diaz, Mehkye Washington, Robert Platt and Isaiah Young, Central’s Damien Rodriguez, Charlie Sullivan, Gavin Marini, Sergio Garcia and Jace Ramirez, Imperial’s Wolfgang Horner and Southwest’s Seneca Haines and Estevan McDonough.
The rest of the Second Team offense is Brawley’s Bryan Porras, Anthony Arriaga and Daniel Camillo, Central’s Brennen Havens, Anthony Ramirez, Arturo Estrada and Skylar Cook, Imperial’s Diego Valencia, Jesse Nichols, Christopher Tiernan, Rhys Vindiola and Ethan Gonzalez-Lopez, and Southwest’s Logan Jungers and Derik Mankin.
On defense, Bulldogs’ junior Diego Gurrola was named First Team while senior defensive back Pedro Cruz and junior defensive back Andres Ramirez earned Second Team recognition.
Imperial senior Kye Bishop was named IVL Defensive Player of the Year with Tigers’ junior Ethan Gonzalez-Lopez earning Punter of the Year honors.
The rest of the IVL First Team Defense is Brawley’s Alan Carillo, Bernie Bustamante, Chris Camillo, Gilbert Corrales and Daniel Camillo, Central’s Angel Ortiz, Skylar Cook, Rudy Lizeola, Charlie Sullivan and Jace Ramirez, Imperial’s Jeremiah Naylor and Seth Shaw.
The rest of the IVL Second Team Defense is Brawley’s Tanner Carranza, Robert Blatt and Mehkye Washington, Central’s Jared Martin, Dominic Lerma and Daymien Nelson, Imperial’s Devin Meza, Zack Ray and Aiden Shields, and Southwest’s Seneca Haines, Guillermo Lopez and Derik Mankin.