It was just a simple hitch route.
Jordan quarterback Isaac Ochoa took a quick drop back and fired a pass towards the Panthers sideline where Nehemiah Condon was coming out of his break. The senior receiver turned upfield and spun out of a tackle while leaving three Norwalk defenders in his wake. Condon cut back between two more Lancer defensive backs right in front of his coaches and teammates and sprinted 78 yards for the touchdown.
As he watched Condon use his acceleration and shiftiness to transform a short gain into a big play, Jordan head coach Tim Wedlow turned to his receivers coach Ken-Yon Rambo and yelled, “That reminds me of you!”
“That’s right coach,” Rambo replied while celebrating. “That’s right, that was me!”
Wedlow watched Rambo make a lot of defenses look silly while putting together an All-American career as a wide receiver at Long Beach Poly High. Wedlow was a coach for the Jackrabbits at the time, and brought Rambo to Jordan with him last year. Rambo went on to play at Ohio State and in the NFL.
“We have a lot of fun talking about what we did down the street at 1600 Atlantic Ave,” Wedlow said. “I’m very glad to have that guy on my staff. He’s a good coach.”
Wedlow also said that Condon reminds him of a lot of former Poly players he coached.
“He reminds me DeSean Jackson,” Wedlow said. “Not the speed, but he has that ability and work ethic. He’s always working after practice and doing extra stuff.”
Condon has earned his accolades and respect from his teammates by being a leader by example as a starting receiver, corner back and kick/punt return man. Tonight he and the Panthers (3-0) will try to improve on their best start since 2008 when they visit Millikan.
“No one is unbeatable,” Condon said. “We’ve got to attack them instead of letting people attack us. We have to come off the ball fast and hard so they know we’re not playing around.”
Nehemiah is one of six children raised in Compton by Darryl and Cynthia Condon, and he grew up playing football and baseball because the older brother he idolized, Darryl Jr., was a great athlete as well.
“I looked up to my bother and my dad used to tell me stories about him playing,” Condon said.
Four years ago, Darryl Jr. died in the streets of Compton. Condon said he’s never been the same.
“I never asked for details,” Condon said. “I didn’t want to hear anything about that because it hurt. My brother was going though things, in and out of jail, so we couldn’t hang out, but we were still close. We used to talk on the phone.”
The tragic loss shook the entire Condon family, and Nehemiah started acting out in school and getting in trouble.
“I wasn’t focused,” Condon recalled. “I was doing dumb stuff. I was angry and getting into fights and stuff. Family feuds were stressing me out and making me angry. The school was calling my dad about my grades and classes I was missing. One time they called and he was just sick and tired of it. He gave me a whole lecture about how I needed to stop doing that stuff. I needed to grow up. I listened and managed to turn myself around. I feel like I’ve really matured.”
Wedlow agreed and said Condon is one of his strongest leaders.
“He’s like a coach on the field,” Wedlow said. “If I need everyone out of the locker room, he’ll be the last one out in there making sure everyone gets out. He doesn’t miss practice and he just takes care of business.”
Condon said he’s naturally a quiet person, but that he can feel more comfortable and confident with the football team because, “I feel loved. The bond I have with my teammates and coaches is so close. It brings out the best of me.”
His older brother was the reason Condon started playing football, but he tries not to think about Darryl Jr. during the games.
“I tend to focus on the game because when I think about him I get into my feelings,” he said.
That focus has paid off as Condon leads Jordan with 126 yards receiving on six catches. He also has 16 tackles on defense, and will be asked to cover Millikan’s best receivers tonight. Condon credits a lot of his improved skill to coach Rambo.
“Rambo is a good coach,” Condon said. “He teaches techniques and the simple details we need to do to be successful. Like running routs, getting off the ball, using your hands, making good cuts and fast breaks instead of chopping your feet… I feel like we’ve got the best coaching staff and we’re good.”