DESERT VALLEY LEAGUE
Last season’s results: Palm Springs (10-2, 5-0); La Quinta (10-3, 4-1); Palm Desert (6-5, 3-2); Coachella Valley (6-5, 2-3); Indio (2-8, 1-4); Cathedral City (0-10, 0-5).
Players to watch: Even with the graduation of the league’s offensive MVP, all-purpose running back Nephi Garcia, Palm Springs definitely owns the edge in returning talent. Not only does the Indians return quarterback Dane Tiedeman but he’ll have a pair of all-league receivers to choose from. Jordan White caught a team-high 34 passes for 503 yards and four touchdowns and Nick King did a lot of everything, catching 23 passes for 394 yards and five touchdowns and rushing for 729 yards and nine scores. Perhaps the best player for Palm Springs is linebacker/offensive lineman Kyle Lass, an all-Central Division selection on offense last season and three-year starter on defense. He was a key member of the 2009 team that won the SS-Eastern Division title. Nate Evans, another first-team all leaguer for the Indians, returns at safety. Palm Desert has the top returning ball carrier in senior Tim Santa Maria, who rushed for 1,066 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. He was also an effective pass catcher out of the backfield, accounting for 15 receptions and three touchdowns. The league's best returning athlete is La Quinta senior quarterback Taylor Pope, who is just as valuable on defense and special teams. Pope was named the league’s special teams co-MVP last season, intercepted a pass in Week 2 to seal a 14-3 upset against Colton, the eventual Central Division champion, and orchestrated a second-half comeback from 28 points down against Chino in the second round of the playoffs.
Projected order of finish: Palm Springs, La Quinta, Palm Desert, Coachella Valley, Indio, Cathedral City.
Key games: Sept. 2 – Palm Springs @ Palm Desert; Sept. 16 – La Quinta @ Mission Viejo; Sept. 30 – Palm Desert @ Fontana Kaiser; Oct. 7 – Temecula Chaparral @ Indio; Oct. 28 – Palm Desert @ Palm Springs; Nov. 4 – Palm Springs @ La Quinta; Nov. 11 – Palm Desert @ La Quinta.
Alumni in the NFL: James Dockery, Cleveland Browns (Palm Desert ’06)
Fast fact: For the second consecutive season, Palm Springs and Palm Desert will meet in a nonleague season opener and again during league play. Due to the extreme heat that’s usually still hanging around the Coachella Valley in early September, the schools have had difficulty finding opponents to travel out to the low desert. When the teams met last season, the temperature had reached a record-tying 117 degrees in Palm Springs that day, and was still 108 at kickoff. Palm Springs won the game, 35-20.
On the clock: Inland Valley League.