For the third consecutive year, Blair High School makes a 400-mile round trip to play Brawley on Friday, and Vikings and Pasadena-area fans are asking the obvious question: why?
The answer is simple: money.
Blair’s trip to Brawley, which is an hour west of Yuma, Ariz., and just north of Mexicali, is in the third and final year of its agreement. Blair coach Gary Parks was in his first season three years ago when close friend and Brawley athletic director Bill Brewer called to ask if the Vikings would be interested in making the trip south.
In exchange, Blair gets charter buses for the trip, food and a $2,000 appearance fee, all paid for by Brawley’s football boosters, according to Parks.
“Financially it’s great,” Parks said. “It allows the kids to get out of the city for a day and do something different before we start (Rio Hondo) league. We use the trip as a bonding experience.”
Brawley, a cattle town where summer temperatures often are higher than 120 degrees, is the only high school in its district. The public school plays in the CIF-San Diego Section, and all of its nonleague opponents are at least an hour’s drive away, with Blair traveling the farthest. Brawley’s Imperial Valley League games aren’t any closer. The Wildcats’ first league game this season comes against Palo Verde Valley High in Blythe, which is an 89-mile drive one way.
Parks met Brewer through church, and they go back to when Parks was coaching football at Verbum Dei.
“We were always looking for one long road trip at Verbum Dei,” Parks recalled. “So when I came to Blair, I wanted to bring that aspect, too. (Brewer) knows we’re strapped for cash, and the money we get helps us get the things we need outside what PUSD (Pasadena Unified School District) has cut.”
Parks said he’d like to continue making the trip, but his principal “wants us to stay closer next year.”
Added Parks: “We’re really going to miss it.”
Brawley has won both meetings by a combined score of 95-12.