YAKIMA, Wash. -- When it’s football season, Jose Jimenez just goes bananas. Literally, and for good reason.
When Eisenhower’s two-way, all-CBBN lineman was a freshman he struggled with leg cramps week after week and quick remedies didn’t help. So in preparation for his sophomore season, when he elevated to a varsity starter on defense, Jimenez sought out advice from teachers and trainers and there was a consensus — try a banana on game day.
So Jimenez would eat a banana in class. Not just a class, every class,
“Last year I had six classes and, yeah, that’s a lot of bananas,” he said. “But I like them and I haven’t had a cramping problem since.”
So with plenty of the potassium-rich fruit coursing through his system and helping stave off the cramps that can be a problem for players who seldom leave the field, Jimenez not only earned first-team CBBN honors at defensive tackle but honorable mention at offensive guard as well.
In his senior campaign, the 5-foot-11, 255-pound lineman will anchor the defensive front as a three-year starter and be a part of a fairly experienced offensive line that went through a remarkable transition during last year’s 7-3 season.
Starting out as primarily a pass-blocking crew to protect SMU-bound quarterback Kolney Cassel, the offensive line allowed its prize passer to average 339 yards through the first four games. But the Cadets never threw for more than 100 yards after that as Cassel went down with a season-ending leg injury.
So in midseason the line suddenly became almost solely a run-blocking unit as Eisenhower scrapped the air game in favor of a pistol running attack featuring Branden Curtis and Ridge Harmon. The swing in extremes was probably unprecedented: In Week 2, Cassel threw for 414 yards and seven touchdowns. In Week 10, Curtis set a state record with 488 yards rushing on a whopping 47 carries.
“At first, adjusting like that, it was pretty hard,” Jimenez said. “To go from passing 30 times a game to running 30, 40 times, that’s a huge difference. But we worked hard at it and we have a good line. Plus, we all liked both styles. In a week or two, we had the changes figured out.”
And being part of a state record made it all worth it.
“We were all so excited because it was such a cool record, it was our last game and it came against our rival (Davis),” he said. “Physically, it was tiring. But the momentum carried us.”
And still might.
Jimenez and senior teammate Miguel Mendoza were full-time guards last season, and Casey Garcia and Josh Castenada have starting experience at tackle. That group, along with Chris Lopez, placed second in the 4A-3A division of Skyline High School’s Skills on the Hills linemen competition in June.
After a spring spent leading Ike’s track and field team in the shot and discus, Jimenez did Skyline’s linemen camp and the Cadets’ team camp at Boise State. After that came eight-hour days working at Eisenhower’s new school, unloading trucks, hauling chairs, tables and equipment and all manner of other chores. He’s fit and ready for a big season.
“We have all seniors on the line, and things looked pretty good at team camp,” he said. “I expect a good season.”
Just keep the bananas coming.