Football season may be over in the valley, but with Xavier Prep now entering the Desert Valley League, the release of next year’s DVL schedule was met with much anticipation this week.
Gone from the schedule is Rivalry Week as we currently know it. Instead, there will be six league games for each team, which changes how the schedule has been constructed in recent years.
One example of that is the annual Battle for the Victory Flag between rivals Palm Desert and La Quinta. Instead of that game being played during the final week of the regular season, it has been moved to Sept. 26, the first week of DVL play.
Coaches on both sides agree that it benefits the two teams, primarily because players won’t have to get emotionally revved up for the rivalry game, senior night and a potential playoff game all within the span of seven days.
Both head coaches recently said that this year’s game, which had DVL title implications and wasn’t decided until the final minute, took a physical and emotional toll on their teams and made it difficult to get some of that fire back entering the playoffs.
“It’s sometimes hard for kids to sustain that kind of intensity for a long period of time,” La Quinta’s Dan Armstrong said. “So I think it benefits both teams to have that game earlier in the season.”
Palm Desert’s Pat Blackburn added: “As physical as those games against La Quinta are, it’ll be good for both teams to not have that game right before the playoffs.”
Other rivalry games such as Palm Springs versus Cathedral City and Indio versus Coachella Valley will remain on the schedule as the final games of the regular season for all four teams.
This year, however, each team in the DVL will have a bye during the league slate. Depending upon how you look at it, La Quinta will benefit by having the final week of the regular season off. Palm Springs will get a bye to start the league schedule, and the five other teams will then each take a turn.
Xavier Prep will play it’s first DVL game at Indio on Sept. 26. The Saints will then play against Cathedral City, at Palm Springs and against Coachella Valley before a bye week and then wrapping up the schedule at La Quinta and against Palm Desert.
Though non-league schedules are still being finalized, there are at least three that teams should be looking forward to heading into the offseason.
First, La Quinta will host Heritage, the team that beat the Blackhawks in the playoffs en route to the CIF-SS Central Division title, to open the season. Though the Patriots will undoubtedly be strong again, Armstrong said he likes the idea of playing them with what in theory will be a healthier roster than La Quinta had at the end of this season. Heritage will also have to endure the late August desert heat.
Xavier Prep will open its season out of state at Seattle Prep, another Jesuit school. The Saints will travel north for a game that should provide a lot of intrigue as the valley anticipates their transition into the DVL.
Lastly, Coachella Valley will face Rancho Mirage on the road to open the season. The Arabs will be the first varsity opponent for the Rattlers, who will open their stadium to their varsity squad and become the newest team in the valley. Players and coaches at the brand-new school will have waited almost 18 months for that moment.
With Palm Desert and La Quinta sharing the DVL title this year, and with three other teams (Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Xavier Prep) in the league each finishing with a winning record, it should be a lot of fun watching how next season unfolds.
Palm Springs bye
La Quinta at Palm Desert
Coachella Valley at Cathedral City
Xavier Prep at Indio
Palm Desert bye
Palm Springs at Coachella Valley
Indio at La Quinta
Cathedral City at Xavier Prep
Coachella Valley bye
Palm Desert at Indio
Xavier Prep at Palm Springs
La Quinta at Cathedral City
Coachella Valley at Xavier Prep
Cathedral City at Palm Desert
Palm Springs at La Quinta
Xavier Prep bye
Indio at Cathedral City
La Quinta at Coachella Valley
Palm Desert at Palm Springs
Cathedral City bye
Xavier Prep at La Quinta
Palm Springs at Indio
Coachella Valley at Palm Desert
La Quinta bye
Cathedral City at Palm Springs
Palm Desert at Xavier Prep
Indio at Coachella Valley