Rim shoots for elusive title

Unbeaten entering tonight's game against Apple Valley, Rim of the World (7-0 overall, 2-0 Mojave River League) is attracting attention this fall for something other than volleyball. Sure, the volleyball team did win its 31st league title this year, but that's old hat. The football team hasn't captured a league title since 1998 when it was in the old Skyline League.

Rim of the World High School is best known for its non-football endeavors.

 

Most noteworthy is its most famous graduate, figure skater Michelle Kwan, whom high school friends referred to as "Shelly."

 

Then there were its four state girls volleyball championships, the most recent in 2004.

 

Then, of course, there was the wildfire that evacuated the Lake Arrowhead school in 2003 and made national television, bright orange flames burning dangerously close to the school.

 

Not that Rim hasn't had some success in football. Its 1976 team, quarterbacked by current coach Bob Gradillas, won a CIF title.

 

Also, its 2003 team, until the wildfire hit, was 7-0. It finished 8-2.

 

The Fighting Scots also have a graduate, Mike Wahle, who starts on the offensive line for the Carolina Panthers.

 

When Wahle's introduction for last Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys was filmed, the former Fighting Scot eschewed describing himself as being from the Naval Academy and instead blurted "from Rim High."

 

Unbeaten entering tonight's game against Apple Valley, Rim of the World (7-0 overall, 2-0 Mojave River League) is attracting attention this fall for something other than volleyball. Sure, the volleyball team did win its 31st league title this year, but that's old hat. The football team hasn't captured a league title since 1998 when it was in the old Skyline League.

 

"People are pretty excited, but we have some work ahead of us," Gradillas said. "Apple Valley has a balanced offense, with a good passing and running attack and a good running back. They look quick and they're aggressive on defense."

 

The same can be said of Rim of the World, which boasts elusive senior running back Daylan Swedlow, running behind a strong offensive line. Swedlow has rushed for 1,189 yards and 13 touchdowns. In his last game, a 42-17 win against defending league champion Hesperia Sultana, he rambled for 337 yards and four touchdowns.

 

The offense averages nearly 29 points per game, piling up touchdowns in the chilled mountain air which routinely prompt its band to play "Scotland, the Brave."

 

The defense is solid, led by lineman Bobby Martinez, linebackers Alec Hutton and Daniel Brandenberger, ends Jim O'Brien and Ryan Hohman and backs Matt Offerman and Brad Boles. It yields an average of fewer than 10 points per game.

 

Rim also was 7-0 in 2003 before the wildfire hit. After the area was evacuated and school suspended, the Fighting Scots took up residence in a Hesperia motel. They practiced every day at Sultana, in preparation for the season's defining game, an epic showdown with Serrano. Rim led most of the game before Serrano scored in the final minute to win 30-29.

 

After the game, the 2000 in attendance - including USC coach Pete Carroll who watched with some friends from Lake Arrowhead - gave the Scots a standing ovation.

 

Relegated to second place that season, the Scots' unfortunate finish left a bad taste. Gradillas acknowledged its something his current team has discussed.

 

Apple Valley (8-0, 2-0) is anything but an easy mark. Sun Devils running back Anthony Ambers has rushed for 1,286 yards and nine touchdowns. He is complemented by quarterback Phil Rivera (843 yards, 14 touchdowns, three interceptions) and wideout Corry Johnson (29 receptions, 325 yards, three touchdowns).

 

Greg Gilmer leads the Sun Devils in scoring with 71 points. The tight end/linebacker/placekicker/punter sprained an ankle in last week's 21-14 win against Serrano, but should be able to play tonight.

 

On defense, Apple Valley is a ballhawking unit. The Sun Devils have benefited from 22 take-aways, including 17 interceptions. Johnson leads the way with seven interceptions and Diore Trammell has four.

 

Other Sun Devil defensive standouts include linebackers Jumaane Bey and Casey Hayes, lineman Kris Barr and back Alvin Worthy.

 

Apple Valley coach Frank Pulice is seeking the school's first league title since 1984. But he knows he will have battle on his hands at Newton T. Bass Stadium.

 

"Rim is a solid football team, Pulice said. "The most impressive thing is their line play. That offensive line opens up some nice holes for Swedlow."

 


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