Needless to say, the 2011 high school football season did not go the way Paloma Valley High School running back David Solis planned.
In just the third game of the season, a 41-6 blowout victory over Cathedral City before a Homecoming crowd, Solis went down in the final minutes with a high ankle sprain. The injury plagued him for the rest of the season, limiting him to a season total of 441 yards and 8 touchdowns rushing.
"I shouldn't have gone back in," Solis recalled about that game, when the starters were no longer needed. "When I limped off the field, I was scared for the rest of my season. But my thoughts were that I had to conquer what I was feeling in my ankle. I decided my bravado was too strong to get hurt."
The injury didn't allow Solis to compete as effectively as he hoped. The off-season became a time of healing and hoping as the 5-foot-10, 180-pound back awaited his senior year.
One would have to say Solis has bounced back nicely.
Is Solis surprised with his rushing total and per-game average of 164 yards after coming off an injury-plagued season? Not really.
"I had some numbers I wanted to reach by the middle of the season," Solis said. "My goal was to make 1,000 yards by the fifth game."
He came very close to that and now is racing past the 1,000-yard mark with three games left in the regular season. Coach Bert Esposito, who encouraged Solis to pursue that statistical goal, is not surprised with what he's seen.
"He set a goal and he believed he could do it," Esposito said. "That's the kind of kid he is. He has the talent and the ability, and he has good guys playing in front of him."
Esposito and Solis both were quick to give credit to the offensive line, a veteran group that has enabled the Wildcats to rush for an average of 260 yards per game. Esposito says the team's ability to run the spread offense and Solis' quick cutting ability and speed are major factors in the team's success.
"When you're a spread team like us, people can't pack the box," Esposito said about opposing defenses. "David has running room all over the place."
Solis said he and his teammates are trying not to get caught up in the hype of the city rivalry, which admittedly is only in its third year.
"We'll be mentally ready," he said. "We're not treating it as any special game. We know it will be a very good game. We always seem to be known as underdogs, so that makes me more motivated."
Although he is not huge by college football standards, Solis hopes a strong finish to the season will give him the opportunity to continue his football career at the next level.
"David has the pure ability and tenacity," Esposito said. "If he had the size colleges are looking for, he could be a big-time college player. Even at his size, he can play college ball somewhere. And wherever he goes, he'll be an asset for somebody."