Bring back the I.V. Classic
The rivalry between Imperial and Holtville came to an end in 2008 when Imperial moved to the Imperial Valley League and Holtville moved to the Manzanita League. The irony of the ending of the annual matchup between the two rivals was that it resulted in a dead even tie with both teams having 34 wins. How poetic is that?
One would have to have played football for either Imperial or Holtville during the years the two teams battled on the gridiron to truly appreciate the true meaning of the rivalry. As one who played Imperial football from 1980 to 1983, I have firsthand knowledge of the contempt that each side shared for the other.
I will never forget my senior year when Imperial lost to Holtville 14-7 breaking a decade-long winning streak held by Imperial. I still remember a pass thrown by Braulio Castillo in the waning seconds of the game intended for me in the end zone being knocked away by Walter Lehnhardt to secure the win for Holtville.
Renewing the rivalry between Imperial and Holtville in football would be great for both communities, especially for sentimental reasons. Unfortunately, both athletic directors from the respective schools do not share my desire to renew the rivalry. Imperial athletic director Victor Cruz and Holtville athletic director Steve Cato both cite an enrollment disparity as the primary reason for not wanting to play, believing this gives Imperial a competitive advantage.
However, looking at Holtville’s schedule this year, the Vikings have already taken on two Imperial Valley League opponents in Calexico and Southwest. The Vikings played Calexico tough losing only by a score of 14-10 and actually defeated the Eagles 40-13. Both Calexico and Southwest have much larger enrollments than Imperial.
The reason Imperial does not want to play Holtville is because they are trying to load up their non-league schedule with highly competitive opponents to prepare for league. However, considering Imperial’s stellar junior class will be graduating next year and its J.V. team is currently 1-6 this season, a matchup against Holtville will be a lot more competitive in the future.
In Holtville’s case, they are not averse to playing teams with bigger enrollments; they are just opposed to playing teams who have any one named Royce Freeman on it.
Both Holtville and Imperial average about 500 to 600 fans to each home game. When Imperial played Mater Dei there were no more than 30 parents sat in the visitor’s bleachers. Holtville also gets small visiting crowds given the fact it plays small schools from San Diego in league competition. A home and away series between the two former rivals could bring in about $3,000 in additional revenue for each hosting team. In this day and age of school budget cuts, that money is sorely needed.
I would also like to rename the rivalry game between Imperial and Holtville; the I.V. Classic never had a real ring to it.
Considering Imperial Valley pioneer William Holt was instrumental in the development of both Imperial and Holtville, the game should be named in his honor.
The new title of the game will be called the “Founders Classic.” The winner of the game will receive the “Founders Trophy,” which will be an elegant bronze miniature statue of William Holt.