Confidence has never been a problem for Redlands East Valley coach Kurt Bruich, who is entering his 10th season as head coach of the Wildcats. But that confidence is running over after two straight league titles, the second from which he returns 15 starters.
“After back-to-back league titles, the road to the Citrus Belt League title runs through us,” Bruich said. “I don’t care if you print that. If you want the title, you have to come through us and we are ready to defend it.”
While winning the CBL in undefeated fashion with a roster full of juniors and sophomores is a point of pride for REV, not everything last season was kosher. The Wildcats were eliminated in the first round of the Inland Division playoffs, as Etiwanda strolled into the University of Redlands and defeated the Wildcats. That’s something that’s been a point of emphasis throughout the offseason.
“We are going to finish the way we want to finish this year,” Bruich said. “Last year we didn’t control the finish and we stopped playing way before we wanted to. We are not going to let that happen this year.”
Whether or not REV accomplishes that goal will be dependent on its lines. The Wildcats return 10 of their 11 starters on offense, including the three-headed offensive line monster of seniors Edmund Faimalo (6-2, 270), Dominique Robertson (6-5, 295) and Brandon Green (6-3, 260). Robertson already has offers from Arizona State and Washington, Green has been offered by Air Force and Army but Bruich thinks Faimalo might be the best of the group.
REV is also stout on the defensive line, as junior defensive end Kylie Fitts (6-4, 251) already has an offer from Boise State. Fellow junior Ritisoni Fata (6-1, 252) also returns. Trevor Douglass (5-8, 176) returns at linebacker while senior Jamal Ellis (5-10, 170) moves from wide receiver to cornerback to join junior Daniel Gonzales (5-10, 165) and senior Stefen Kirkland (6-0, 185).
Offensively the Wildcats are excited about second-year starting quarterback Austin Decoud (6-3, 218), who is receiving interest from Colorado State. Junior Taylor Thompson (5-9, 182) and senior Jesse Riley (5-9, 190) will split the carries at running back, with Riley also being split out at receiver on occasion. Junior tight end Blake Braun (6-3, 211), a first-team all-CBL choice, will also be a key component in the REV offense.
Redlands East Valley schedule (Home games in CAPS, * indicates league game)
Sept. 9: COMPTON DOMINGUEZ (Citrus Valley HS)
Sept. 16: at San Gorgonio
Sept. 23: LOS ANGELES DORSEY (Citrus Valley HS)
Sept. 30: at Chino Hills
Oct. 7: MISSION VIEJO (University of Redlands)
Oct. 14: MILLER (University of Redlands)*
Oct. 21: at Redlands*
Oct. 28: at Eisenhower*
Nov. 4: FONTANA (Citrus Valley HS)*
Nov. 10: at Yucaipa*