Sunday, November 15, 2015


Injured Sacramento-Inderkum player Derrick Henderson (left) checks cell phone messages with Tiger teammate Ryan Davis during the Tigers' 82-32 rout of Lincoln on Friday, Nov. 13. Inderkum players helped dedicate their 50-point victory to slain Grant High cornerback Jaulon Clavo, who was lost to a shooting outside of the GHS campus (photo credit: Steve German). 
The Sac-Joaquin Section has been painted in blue and yellow colors to honor Grant High School – following a tragedy in the 916 on Friday, Nov. 13.

Grant Pacer football cornerback Jaulon Clavo was one of two players shot inside a car well away from the GHS campus, which happened before kickoff of the Pacers’ section playoff game against Modesto-Beyer. The game was postponed due to the shooting. Clavo – who spent three seasons with Grant after starting his prep career at Inderkum High during his freshman year – was pronounced dead later that night. Fullback Malik Johnson was the other Pacer who suffered gun shot wounds. 

The shockwaves reverberated throughout the Sacramento region – and prompted one family member at Inderkum to play the game of his life in honor of Clavo.

Cousin Jimmie Johnson rumbled to 178 yards and two touchdowns as his Inderkum Tigers trounced Lincoln 82-32. Johnson spoke to the Sacramento Bee’s Joe Davidson with tears falling from his eyes.

Said Johnson: “I was getting taped up for the game when I heard he got shot in the neck and died. He was a great guy, and we grew up together. He always made me happy. I saw him last weekend ... but I didn’t get to say I loved him.”

He wasn’t the only one rallying behind Grant. So is Granite Bay High; the Pacers’ possible opponent if they beat Beyer in a game now scheduled for Monday, Nov. 16, at 5 p.m.

Granite Bay, which beat Downey 42-31 on Nov. 13, reportedly tied blue and yellow ribbons on a sign that reads “Welcome to Granite Bay.”

Beyer head coach Doug Severe expressed his sympathies to Grant through the Modesto Bee.

“My heart goes out to the coaches, players, the family of those players and the community of Grant High,” Severe told The Bee. “I know how much I love my kids. The game of football becomes such a minute detail when talking about the life of young people. That’s someone’s child, a teammate, a friend, somebody who won’t be at school on Monday.”


Fresno’s Edison High is another school that has dealt with its own personal tragedies. The Tigers lost former players Marquis Sutton and Deondre "Day Day" Howard to shootings in the last three years, with Howard losing his life in Aug. 2015.

But Edison showed the same grit, cohesiveness and heart that turned them into the Central Section’s Division I champion and state playoff representative last year, upending the mighty Bakersfield High Drillers 16-6 at Sunnyside High on Nov. 13.

How did the Tigers do it? Power running and stout defense – the same ingredients that powered last year’s 12-2 team. Jaylen King did the ground work with 127 yards on 27 carries. A quarterback sack and safety from linebacker Jake Hanson helped seal the win.

Fellow Tiger defenders Leveel Tatum III, Kobe Manning, Dee Tillman and David Tate all helped bottle the Drillers’ air attack, holding BHS to 15 passing yards.

Next up, Clovis High and the top-seeded Cougars, in a rematch of last year’s epic 21-14 semifinal game won by Edison.


Orange Lutheran running back Brandon McKinney sprints past St. Bonaventure's defense during the first quarter of the Lancers' wild 54-44 road playoff win over the Seraphs in a PAC-5 playoff game (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 

Led by an astronomical 576 rushing yards and L.J. Northington, Brandon McKinney and Dominick Austin collaborating for seven touchdowns, Orange Lutheran ran past a feisty St. Bonaventure team at Ventura College 54-44.

Northington tucked it and ran to the tune of 102 yards on 10 carries with three touchdowns, often finding his creases in the middle of the Seraphs’ defense. Juniors McKinney and Austin combined for 17 carries, 240 yards and four touchdowns against a Seraph defense that had no more than seven defenders in the box for most of the night.

Now comes this daunting task for the Lancers: stunning the state’s No. 1 team in Corona-Centennial on Friday, Nov. 20. The Huskies already own a 35-14 rout against OLU on Sept. 11 in a non-league game played at Orange Coast College.


I’m not the most familiar with Grant High. The only time I’ve ever interacted with a Pacer player was through camps and tournaments during the off-season.

But whenever I do talk with a Pacer, they’ve always been approachable and polite, even though they live in what’s considered an unsafe environment. On that note, I’ve done stories on various athletes throughout California who have had to overcome personal tribulations to cement their name in front of college coaches.

The death of Clavo doesn’t…I repeat…doesn’t represent a problem with Grant High. Shootings can happen anywhere. As it is, Marquis Sutton’s death occurred 15 minutes south of where I used to live, and the community support for Edison High that year stretched throughout the 559 and 661.

I won't be at the Grant/Beyer game on Monday, but my hope is that every seat will be taken to prove that evil will never win. 

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