STORY BY MATT SIMON
As the sun begins to set, a golden hue shines on the Compton mural that leads to the entrance of the football field at Compton High School.
The sound of whistles echo toward Oleander Avenue, a sound that hasn’t been heard in the nearby neighborhood in November for 11 years.
Coach Calvin Bryant has a quick whistle this Tuesday afternoon as he looks to keep his team as healthy as possible as they game plan for their CIF Division 11 contest against El Rancho on Friday.
Bryant is in his second tenure as the head coach at Compton, but the method is the same; pound the ball with his vaunted Double Wing offense.
This year the catalyst of the offense is senior backs Jaishawn Smith and Jaheim Hunt. The dynamic duo have paved the way for the Tarbabes amassing 2,181 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Together the two share a bond that was forged their freshman year on the football field and from 7 a.m. workouts during track season.
“We should be thanking coach Bryant for making us run track,” Hunt said. “We wouldn’t be running like this if it weren’t for track.”
The track speed is evident for both but especially the 6-foot-2 Smith, who routinely beaks free for long touchdown runs displaying his speed as soon as he hits the hole.
“When Jai’s running with the ball I just try and block my guy as tough as I can for him,” Hunt said. “I don’t want to see my dude hit Jai or anything because I don’t want anything to happen to him.”
While Smith has the gaudy numbers, the seniors have different takes when it comes to leading the team. Smith is the lead-by-example type and Hunt is the vocal leader and one of the captains and that’s OK for the two as they both understand their roles.
Off the field you can find the pair together whether it’s going to church or just hanging out after school.
“Going to church together makes our bond really strong,” Smith said. “We pray, we sing and going to church together just makes our bond closer.”
Compton has had a long line of backs that have pushed to get Compton back in the playoffs, and Bryant knows the impact Smith and Hunt have for the team on both sides of the ball.
“Anytime we have guys that push through for four years and waited for the opportunity behind (Christian) Swint and (Niles) Hibbert and all those other guys, while being behind the light and then step up when they were called upon and also be a leader on the team it’s big, it’s really huge,” Bryant said. “I can’t say enough about what they bring to the table and the dedication they have every day.”
Now Smith and Hunt will face their biggest test of the season and they are looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s very exciting,” Smith said. “We’ve been waiting for this for four years. So we just have to just stay on top of our game and stick to the plan.”