On the grid

Wildcat linebackers practice their skills during a preseason training session Monday, Aug. 5.

TWENTYNINE PALMS — Coach Ernest Martinez may be dealing with an embarrassment of riches, in the form of nine returning seniors, as he prepares for another season of Twentynine Palms High School varsity football.

Mac Miller, Chris Rantzow, George Zama, Luke Emmons, Nathanial Brown, Jeremiah Kirk, Matai Patu, Erik Stone and Seth Williford will all work to help the Wildcats win the Desert Valley League.

Miller and junior Carson Estrada are also competing for the job of varsity Wildcat quarterback, Martinez said.

Last season, the varsity Wildcats won five games in the row to finish their first year in the Desert Valley League with a 5-2 mark and a second-place finish, behind Coachella Valley, which ended the season at 7-0 in the league. The Wildcats tied with Banning and Yucca Valley for second place.

This year, Martinez said, the top league contenders should include Coachella Valley, Twentynine Palms, Banning and Yucca Valley.

“We have a very tough preseason,” Martinez said. “We will do well in league.”

The Wildcats will warm up for this year’s campaign with a four-team scrimmage at home at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16. Twentynine Palms will host Coachella Valley, West Valley and Xavier Prep at Tom Nicoll Memorial Stadium, Two Mile Road and Utah Trail.

They will take to the road for the first game of the year when they take on Rancho Mirage at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23.

The Wildcats will come home to host Big Bear Friday, Aug. 30, with the junior varsity game beginning at 4 p.m. and the varsity matchup following at 7.

After playing Sultana High School of Hesperia on the road Friday, Sept. 6 and getting through a bye week, the Wildcats will open league play with a road game against Banning on Friday, Sept. 20.

Their first league home game is against Coachella Valley Friday, Sept. 27, with the junior varsity game starting at 4 p.m. and the varsity match following at 7.

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