STORY BY MATT SIMON
Throughout the season, the Compton football team has relied on its rushing attack to kill the clock and wear down opposing defenses.
On Friday night, in the Tarbabes biggest game of the regular season, senior Jai Smith helped run that plan to perfection as he rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns during Compton’s 43-8 running-clock win over Cabrillo to clinch its first playoff berth since 2008.
“I felt really confident in the plays that coach (Calvin) Bryant ran for us,” Smith said. “We just had to execute and when I got the ball I just ran hard and trusted in my coach.”
Smith scored touchdowns of 57, 70 and 57 yard and Jaheim Hunt scored two touchdowns and rushed for 50 yards.
Cabrillo (2-8,1-5) didn’t make it easy for Compton (6-4, 3-3) as the Jaguars leaned on senior Roger McMillan throughout the game. The senior did not disappoint as he gave Compton’s defense fits on his way to 128 yards and one touchdown.
“They had a tough fight in the first quarter,” Compton coach Calvin Bryant said. “We had to continue to fight and we finally won tug-of-war.”
For Compton, one of the biggest storylines was the running clock for a team that has dealt with a plethora of injuries for the entire season.
“This is such a great experience,” Hunt said. “None of us have been to the playoffs before and we want to make sure we do it before we leave, not even just for us, but for coach Bryant and for everybody.”
Bryant shared that sentiment after Compton got close the last couple years, but saw its playoff hopes disappear in disappointing losses.
“This is a great day for us and our school,” Bryant said. “It just shows that you could have a few hiccups in the beginning of the year, but if you play well towards the end, some great results can happen.”
Compton will now await its playoff fate when Sunday’s CIF Division bracket is released.