Inglewood High School Football Team Castigated Instead of Celebrated

CENTER OF CHAOS—Inglewood High School football head coach Mil’Von James has been the focus of widespread criticism after his team defeated neighboring Morningside 106-0 in the battle of city high schools. James apologized to Morningside for running up the score and is now the center of a national debate on sportsmanship. (Nick Koza/Photo)

It was anticipated to be a year that Inglewood High School would end its long football title drought all while restoring some glory to the beleaguered Inglewood Unified School District, but now is embroiled in an unsettling controversy over sportsmanship.

The Sentinels under its brilliant head coach Mil’Von James concluded its regular season and Ocean League championship campaign with a 106-0 shellacking over hapless neighboring rival Morningside.

It was a debacle that was over before it ever began, with the Sentinels bum rushing the Monarchs for 25 points halfway through the first quarter.

The conclusion was ugly and there is no way to slice it, but lost in all of this fallout is the feeling of the players on the winning side of the game.

Los Angeles County Administrator Erica Torres arranged a hasty meeting with administrators and coaches of the two schools on Nov. 1.

Attendees of the meeting were mum on what transpired in it, I have since learned that Inglewood coaches were ordered to apologize and indication is Torres has commenced an investigation of sorts into Inglewood football and its successful coach Mil’Von James.

The reaction from Morningside coaches and administrators to the district, local newspapers and CIF-Southern Section has fueled an enormous bowl of hate filled rhetoric aimed at Inglewood coaches and players that that is outright disgusting.

Credit the Los Angeles Times and its prep sports columnist Eric Sondheimer for fueling the viral charade that enticed comments from dubious political journalist Earl Ofari Hutchinson and hyperbolic ESPN basketball personality Dick Vitale.

Hutchinson pointed his criticism directly at Coach James on his vaguely followed Facebook platform, and then Vitale remarkably question James leadership, obvious not aware this man regularly sends scores of players to major college and the NFL also.

Everybody loves a winner! I mean let’s be real about this, isn’t the fundamental purpose and ultimate reward winning? In sports, in life winning is important.

The greatest coach in the history of football Vince Lombardi’s most famous quote is: “Winning is not everything. It’s the only thing.”

Lombardi also said: “If you can accept losing you can’t win. If you can walk you can run. No one is ever hurt. Hurt is in your mind.”

So why then this big fallout.

Nobody with a pulse or warm blood gave Morningside a snowball chance in you know where to beat Inglewood.

School officials considered cancelling the game altogether, but that would have sent such a defeatist message to the student athletes that it’s better to not try than get defeated.

The manner in which Inglewood defeated Morningside is not sportsman like. Keeping your UCLA bound quarterback in the game for the duration of the running clock pre-Halloween massacre doesn’t look good.

However, no one dared asked Sentinels Coach James his reasoning for doing so, perhaps with this being the final game of the regular season and a most challenging playoff in division 2 on the horizon, he wanted to get in as many reps as he could.

I am not acknowledging or agreeing with it, perhaps he was looking for some style points before he got handed a No. 12 seed and long bus ride to play St. Bonaventure  in Ventura for a shot to advance in the playoffs.

I am scratching my head as to why administrators at Morningside would send letters to newspapers, CIF-Southern Section and County Administrator Torres complaining about the manner in which they lost a football game.

Should James had told his players to kneel down and let the game clock expire with the score 0-0?

The CIF Comish sent out a scalding statement condemning Inglewood. Where was such a statement when Cheryl Miller 100 points in a basketball game?

The same Morningside football coach Brian Collins who blasted James for being classless in a local daily newspaper is one of the most inept high school coaches in America.

This is a man who lacks basic preparation and frequently disregards essential information from his own volunteer assistants.

This is a coach who lost a week before the Inglewood game to a school with just 13 players. Imagine what that Compton Centennial team would have done with 22 players against Morningside.

Every week you can look at the high school football scoreboard and see a team losing by 60 points or more, but the Commish doesn’t make a statement about that.

The newspaper writer who wrote that story is a man who despises transfers. Especially those that go to an inner city school.

If Eric Sondheimer had his way every student athlete would attend the school in their community. Sort of the way it used to be, before the Los Angeles Unified School District began busing talented Black kids out to valley schools, or when they forced Black families to move out to the Inland Empire and Antelope Valley with housing vouchers and low rent inducements.

Schools is those districts are now benefitting from orchestrated integration that has weakened culture and destroyed once proud inner city schools.

James is saving Inglewood, one of only two high schools in the state ran district.

Or maybe ES is talking about the way things were before former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa help inspire charter school growth that diluted public schools and ruined athletic programs in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Eric Sondheimer is no more of an authority on high school sports than I am.

The Inglewood Unified School District loses kids to transfer all the time. These students-athletes go to Sierra Canyon, Gardena Serra and many other schools for the opportunity to compete at the highest level and earn scholarships to colleges.

Imagine that such elite athletes would actually transfer into Inglewood, a school that does not have a home field and practices in hazardous conditions? That’s what’s happening at Inglewood High School.

I don’t know what the future holds for Inglewood area high schools.

I do know that Mil’Von James is more of a solution than a problem.

If Morningside wants to improve it will need to make better hires.

The best thing the district has going for it right now is the football program at Inglewood High School.

In this instance I am reminded of a line in one of my favorite movies Roman J Israel, Esq. starring the great Denzel Washington.

As the character discusses his client with a prosecutor who wins 100 percent of her cases, appeals to her for mercy.

Israel, realizing that there is nothing he can do to help the poor Black kid facing 5-15 years. He turns to the prosecutor and pleads.

“We are all better than the worse things we’ve ever done.”


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