It’s the start of new season filled with coaching changes, rebuilding, teams going after revenge and championships. The talk of the off-season was coaching changes with three programs getting a new head coach.
Desert Mirage Rams: Eric Perry was announced as new head coach in March. Perry has made his share rounds in the football community with 14 seasons at La Quinta, 1 with Palm Desert and Desert Hot Springs. The Rams are coming off a windless season and this year, the team will have a first-year quarterback. With only 27 kids making up the entire program Coach Perry is ready to give the kids a new voice and build a program the kids can believe in.
Xavier Prep Saints: In April former Palm Desert stand-out and NFL player James Dockery was formally announced as Head Coach. In 2016. the Saints went 2-4 in the DVL, 4-6 overall. The ingredients are there for the Aztecs, Dockery is focused on putting them all together. From playing Division I football and going straight to the NFL, Dockery will have to learn how to coach a simpler game.
Desert Hot Springs Golden Eagles: The Golden Eagles hired their fourth head coach in 6 years, Bill Johnson. Johnson has been growing the program as all touch downs scored last year were by kids that have graduated or transferred. How he’s grown the program is by finding athletes from different sports to come out and play.
Coachella Valley Arabs: Coming off of a season where they captured their first win over Palm Desert in 17 years and won the ‘Bell Game’ over Indio. Head coach Brett Davis is going into his fourth year as head coach with a team that has a majority of kids who have played together since freshman year. The Arabs are confident they are now in a position to be a championship team, especially with quarterback Armando Deniz leading the way. Last year Deniz threw for 3,600 yards, 29 TDs, and ran for 7 scores.
Palm Desert Aztecs: Head coach Shane McComb is going into his 2nd year after a season spent getting kids to buy in and understand his system. The Aztecs began their 2016 campaign strong with a win but then went on a 7-game losing streak. Aztecs finished their season with 2 wins showing their moving in the right direction. Their confidence is high with three First Team All DVL seniors returning but have yet to find their starting quarterback. It’s between junior Carter Stokes who lead the program as a sophomore and junior La Quinta transfer David Vandenburg.
Indio Rahjahs: Indio is a program with a lot of fight and going into this season, the Rajahs are focused on finishing games after having 2 wins overall last season, losing three games by only a touchdown. Does the game against Coachella Valley ring a bell? The Rajahs and Arabs were tied at halftime during their rivalry ‘Bell Game’ and Rajahs lost on the last play of the game. With a majority of the 2016 team being juniors, the Rajahs are not focused on rebuilding, they’re looking compete and finish games.
Palm Springs Indians: A team that was a touchdown away from taking the DVL title from La Quinta last season, Palm Springs would gain their only blemish on their league schedule. The Indians moved on to post season play but fell in the first round of CIFs. The Indians are ready to compete with junior starting quarterback Jeremy Dotson returning with the biggest offensive line Coach Murphy has ever seen come through the program.
Shadow Hills Knights: Coming into last year, the Knights weren’t sure what to expect going into their first year in the DVL. This 2017 team is young in the offensive line and at the linebacker position. The Knights are also looking for their quarterback but have a lot of key returners who can move the ball.
Rancho Mirage Rattlers: The Rattlers set the standard for their program in 2016 and plan to turn lasts seasons success into a tradition after sweeping the De Anza League, going undefeated at home, typically only allowing one touchdown by the opposing team. The Rattlers went all the way to the ‘ship’ in the division 12 CIF-SS play-offs but lost by 1 point.
La Quinta Blackhawks: They were unbeatable last season in the DVL but fell in the first round of the division 5 CIF-SS play-offs. Shortly after the season, head coach Dan Armstrong announced he was hanging up the coaching and athletic director hat making La Quinta one of four other valley schools looking for a new head coach. After not being able to find the right guy, Armstrong agreed to return as head coach.
The road to a championship begins next Friday as high school football kicks off. Be sure to tune into KMIR on August 25th at 11pm to catch all the action from under the lights.