The emotions were raw.
Inglewood players were battered and bruised by a far superior Bishop Alemany team in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 semifinals on Nov. 19 at Coleman Stadium, 56-30, ending a season foiled with a national debate on sportsmanship instead of the quality of the team itself.
Players chastised each other, cried but ultimately embraced and relished what was a glorious
campaign that should not be defined by one game, or one moment. They were 11-1.
At least eight players will be moving on to Division 1 colleges, with three committed to UCLA and the South Bay school that was once a laughing stock and sore eye is now the shinning little school on the hill.
County Administrator Erica Torres paced back and forth on the outer track at Coleman and often what she witnessed on the field with her school losing she didn’t like.
However, as Torres stated, she was staying till the bitter end no matter what.
Inglewood was playing for a double digit division crown two years ago and was jumped to the second most competitive division in the section.
Alemany could have competed in the Open Division against private power houses Mater Dei and Servite, but for Inglewood as the No. 12 seed to go on the road and win at St. Bonaventure and then beat a tough Huntington Beach Edison team are achievements coach Mil’Von James and all of Inglewood should be proud of.
In three years, Inglewood has gone from 0-10 to 27-2.
When you have a collection of urban kids who hail from communities where life is most challenging winning at this enormous rate and then losing are vital learning experiences.
Knowing James, as I do, he will be working around the clock to make sure that as many of his kids as possible are prepared for the next in their athletic and student lives.
Simultaneously, he will be charting a way forward for the returning players for next season with apologies and some regret but grateful for the opportunity to do what he loves more than anything else, coaching football and developing kids.
The bitter taste of CIF-SS semifinal defeats in which running back dominated his defense will linger.
The 90 year drought for a football championship for the school named after the city will remain, but with a new turf field coming early in 2022 at Coleman Stadium and the direction of the district stabilized more than it has ever been under Torres, hope springs eternal.