Football: Is La Quinta the best team in desert right now?

The La Quinta High School football team was bold with its statements after its 63-40 victory over Palm Desert on Friday.

It was clear the Blackhawks were the dominant team Friday, but they weren’t talking about their performance against the Aztecs. They wanted to discuss their feelings about their controversial 20-14 overtime loss to Palm Springs on Oct. 19, specifically a call that they said cost them a chance to win the game and one that, after Friday’s result, they say prevented them from winning the Desert Valley League title. Palm Springs claimed the DVL crown by beating Cathedral City on Friday.

Here’s the play: La Quinta was leading 14-7 late in the fourth quarter. Palm Springs faced a fourth-and-10 at its own 48-yard line. It had to pick up a first down to keep its chances alive. Indians quarterback William Olvera completed a short pass to running back Geremiah Maxie, and a La Quinta defender ran him down behind the line of scrimmage and tackled him for a 3-yard loss. But an official penalized the defender for a horse collar tackle, and the 15-yard infraction gave the Indians a first down. They went on to score a touchdown to tie the game and force overtime and won 20-14.

Here’s a video of that play:

Here was the reaction from the Blackhawks after their victory over Palm Desert on Friday.

Coach Dan Armstrong: “I don’t care what the record book says. We consider ourselves the league champs.”

Running back Kenyon Williams: “We’re definitely DVL champs. Palm Springs knows it, too.”

Armstrong said a representative from the Coachella Valley Football Officials Association called him afterward and “admitted it was a bad call.”

These comments definitely will stir a debate about that game two weeks ago, but here’s a question that’s more relevant with the CIF Central Division Southern Section playoffs starting next week: Which is the best team in the desert right now — Palm Springs or La Quinta?

I would have to say it’s La Quinta, and that has nothing to do with the game two weeks ago that Palm Springs won. It has everything to do with the Indians’ performance in their past two games and the Blackhawks’ recent domination.

First, let’s look at Palm Springs. It struggled in the first half offensively against Indio last week and led 12-7 at halftime. It followed up that poor start Friday with another dud in the first half against Cathedral City. It led the Lions 14-7 at halftime before pulling away in the second half to win 45-17.

One week ago, La Quinta led Cathedral City 49-10 at halftime, and it dominated Palm Desert on Friday, scoring 63 points and rushing for 380 yards on 43 carries. Its offensive line struggled at the start of the season because of multiple injuries, but it’s playing great right now. In my opinion, the Blackhawks have a better chance at making a run in the playoffs right now than the Indians.

The playoff pairings come out Sunday. I’m sure La Quinta will relish a chance to back up its talk in its first-round game next week, and I’m certain Palm Springs will be eager to respond to the Blackhawks’ comments by coming out strong in the first half in its opening matchup.