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Eagles Snap Oilers’ Winning Streak

on September 25, 2010

The Kennedy Eagles overpowered the Richmond Oilers Friday night 60-28, delivering the Oilers’ first loss of the season in what many eager fans had dubbed “The Battle of Richmond.”

“We had two goals –keep spirit up and play as a team– and we did both,” said Kennedy varsity coach Clyde Byrd.  “We had a very good game. I’m proud of our guys. We came back and took care of business.”

The Eagles (2-1) managed to bounce back on the road after a disappointing loss to Hercules the week before.

“We weren’t focused the week going up to Hercules,” said Coach Byrd. “We were reading press clippings, thinking about the big win we had against El Cerrito. Hercules came and took it to us.”

Kennedy senior fullback Isaiah McClain said the loss forced the Eagles to reconsider their strategy.

“We got a beating last week,” said McClain. “We stopped playing around, we got more focused. We just got to the point and got very serious. We were just hungry for a win.”

The Kennedy High Eagles bounced back after a tough loss last week. (Photo by Mark Oltmanns)

The Eagles’ determination was apparent on their first drive. Less than four minutes into the first quarter, McClain scored the first touchdown of the game. Ninety seconds later, he did it again. By the time the Oilers (2-1) got on the board at the end of the first quarter, it was too late. The momentum was on Kennedy’s side for the rest of the night.

“I guess the guys were a little tense,” said Jeff Tyner, the Oilers’ head coach. “We were able to put points up but we weren’t able to stop them. Defensively, we were getting beat up front. And it just made for a long night.”

Kennedy fans, meantime, had nothing to complain about. What their crowd lacked in size, they made up for in enthusiasm. Even though they were on Oilers turf, Eagles fans cheered as if they were at home, despite some concerns the cross-town rivalry could lead to something more serious. At the front entrance, cashiers ushered spectators into a metal detector, and then the stadium. Ten Richmond police officers were stationed across the arena, with 15 youth volunteers also on patrol. Police reported no problems.

Adversity is nothing new to either team. Kennedy hasn’t had a winning season since 2004; Richmond hasn’t had one in more than a decade. The Oilers won only three games last year; the Eagles didn’t win any of the five they were able to play before having its season cut short.

Kennedy High is enjoying its best season in years. (Photo by Bo Kim)

The Eagles say what happened last year makes the victory over Richmond that much sweeter.

“This is just a good win for us. This really boosted out spirits,” said McClain.

Even Richmond’s head coach said he sees the value in the outcome of the game.

“I think it was a good loss for us, actually,” said Coach Tyner, “because we’re going into the regular season and these guys don’t like losing. We are still on top of the division, still in first place. We have to get our focus and hopefully we’ll prepare well.”

The Oilers have two weeks to prepare for their next game, Oct. 8, at Hercules.  The Eagles will take on Moreau Catholic (Hayward) at home next Saturday, Oct. 2.

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