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Eagles lose title game, look to rise in playoffs

on November 3, 2012

Despite a painful 34-14 loss to the Hercules Titans during the first league championship game at Kennedy High School in 19 years, those on the Eagles football team – especially graduating seniors — had much to look forward to as they walked off the chilly field Friday night.

“We haven’t had a championship game here in 19 freakin’ years, man,” coach Mack Carminer told his team in a post-game huddle. “That’s older than most of you guys. Think about what you guys have just done.”

If the Eagles had won, they would have automatically made it to the North Coast Section playoffs where teams from all over the Bay Area compete for the top title. But they still have a chance:  The team is 5-5 overall and 4-1 in conference play,  and it is  likely to qualify.

“It stinks a little bit, I know,” Carminer said. “But fellas, we gotta chew that up and spit it out and step on it because we’ve got practice on Monday. Our season is not over. It is not over. I am not collecting gear after we go in.”

The game was a stalemate until well into the second quarter when the Titans scored. By halftime, Hercules was up 10-0.  Raysean Walker scored in the third quarter, but the victory was short-lived: the Titans returned the kick with a long run down the field for a touchdown.

It wasn’t the best day for the Eagles, but roses scattered in the stands and around the field were a reminder that this game wasn’t just about winning or losing: It was probably the last game the seniors would play at home.

“We had our ups and our downs, it’s just that like at the beginning when our pre-season started, we were mostly going through a roller coaster,” said senior Oscar Smith of the season. “We got our act together.”

Many seniors on the team have college aspirations, too, and said they hope to keep football a part of their life after graduation.

“I’m going to try to get accepted at any college and play. I still want to get higher education, too,” said Robert Armstrong, the only team member from the Eagles’ team to receive a league award from the Officials Association Nov. 7 for good grades, participation and a positive attitude.  “Overall, we had a good season, we all played hard and I like that,” he said.

And as in every game since his passing, the Eagles played for Ulises Grijalva, the teammate who was shot in August.

Coach Carminer said it simply enough: “You honored your friend tonight.”

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