Twentynine Palms has established itself as the gold standard in the De Anza League over the last three years, winning league titles all three seasons and progressing to the East Valley Division championship game in 2008. But in the midst of all this success, it’s the last failure that weighs on Wildcat coach Ernie Martinez’s mind.
“Our playoff loss last year was heartbreaking,” Martinez said. “Losing on a Hail Mary pass to the team (Ontario Christian) that lost 12-10 in the championship game is a tough way to go out. I thought we had a really good team last year and we were close to doing something big.”
Whether or not the Wildcats will do something big this year depends on how they reload. Twentynine Palms saw both of its all-CIF linebackers – Robert Caldwell and Austin Cole – graduate, along with starting QB Aaron Anderson. The Wildcats also got a tough break when running back Michael Pinto, who contributed over 800 yards of total offense and scored six touchdowns as a sophomore, moved away.