BRAWLEY –Nothing brings the best out of a team like facing a rival. The passion and intensity on the field is matched only by the feverous atmosphere in the stands. Anticipation and excitement looming on every play, waiting for the moment that will alter the game and decide its victor. That’s the type of game we had at Warne Field on Friday night.
The Central Spartans, led by the arm of senior quarterback Jordan Reed, prevailed 28-20 against the Brawley Wildcats in a hard-fought battle to retain the Victory Bell. The win gives the Central Spartans an unblemished 5-0 record during the 2021 spring football season but most importantly, they secured their fourth straight Bell Game victory.
The game couldn’t have started any better for the Spartans. After forcing a three and out on Brawley’s opening drive, the Spartans wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Jordan Reed connected with senior wide receiver Gavin Marini for a 35-yard score on their first play from scrimmage.
Brawley would not be deterred by the early score and actually took the momentum away from the Spartans, going on a 16-play, 76-yard drive that would be capped off by a 5-yard TD rush by Isaiah Young. That drive would take 9:41 of game time which is exactly what Brawley wanted; keeping the high powered Central offense on the sideline.
Both Central and Brawley would not be able to maintain drives throughout the majority of the 2nd quarter. The long drive by Brawley resulted in a lethagictic Central attack until Reed would connect with Fernando Morales for a 42-yard TD score in the waning minutes of the 1st half, giving the Spartans a 14-7 lead at the break.
The momentum of that late score would carry over into the 2nd half as the Spartans would come out of the locker room only needing 6 plays before their next score: a 47-yard bomb from Reed to freshman Arturo Estrada.
The Wildcats would not go away lightly, especially with Isaiah Young in the backfield. Young, who finished the game with over 200 yards from scrimmage, would find a gaping hole and burst through the middle of the field for a 77-yard TD burst that would cut the Spartans lead to just seven going into the 4th quarter.
Central’s do-it-all playmaker Fernando Morales would add another to his highlight reel before his final game in a Spartans uniform was done. Midway through the 4th quarter, Morales would field a punt from the Central 43, navigate through would be Brawley tacklers en route to a 57-yard TD return that gave the Spartans much needed breathing room.
Brawley sophomore quarterback Ethan Gutierrez was up for the challenge in getting his team back into the game. Down fourteen with five minutes left in the game, Gutierrez would find Young on a short dump off pass on a 4th down and 3 that would result in a 39-yard score for the Wildcats. A missed PAT would leave the score at 28-20.
Brawley would get the ball back with under two minutes remaining; searching for another last minute heroics by their offense. It wasn’t meant to be as the Central defense got to Gutierrez three times in the backfield draining the rest of the clock and preserving the victory.
“It’s something special being on this team. No words can express it,” said Reed after the game. “We believed in each other throughout this entire season. We knew we had a mission and that was to win this game and keep the bell at Central.”
Reed, playing just one year in a Central uniform, talked about the bond that this group has had all season long; a bond that has led the Spartans to an undefeated season.
“We always play for the man next to you. That’s the mindset we’ve had as a team. When you play for the man next to you, you’re playing for something bigger than yourself,” said Reed.
Central head coach David Peña, who remains unbeaten in Bell Games at the helm of the Spartan program, praised his team’s desire to grow week by week. He praised his senior class for sticking through the season that may not have happened for laying the foundation of the Central football program come the fall season.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team. What they, and the rest of the valley, had to go through to get to this point is truly special,” said Peña. “There’s tremendous pride amongst our program; from our alumni and from all of the past players who stepped onto Cal Jones Field. That’s what we play for; we play for something bigger than ourselves and that’s for the people of El Centro.”