Jordan football is in uncharted territory.
The 107 miles from Long Beach to Granite Hills in Apple Valley where the Panthers are playing their CIF Southern Section Division 11 quarterfinal may be the longest road trip the football program has ever taken. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Apple Valley High School. (11837 Navajo Rd., Apple Valley, CA 92308)
Add that to the fact that no one knows if Jordan has ever reached a CIF semifinal before, and once again the Panthers are playing to make history.
“We haven’t been in this position so we’re pumped and ready to go,” running back Jordan Washington said.
“It would be great for the community and the school to make more history,” coach Tim Wedlow added. “I don’t want to come home on a long three-hour bus drive after a loss.”
This week, some other highly-ranked CIF-SS teams who lost first round games had to cancel their charter bus reservations for the quarterfinals. That allowed Jordan to swoop in and secure two charter buses for their long trip to Apple Valley. The Panthers left before noon today and will have a team meal at a local Italian restaurant in the area before pregame warmups.
Jordan football players did drive all the way to Granite Hills this summer for a 7-on-7 passing league completion. Wedlow said it was about 100 degrees that day, but he’s preparing his team for a cold game tonight. It was below 50 degrees on Thursday night in Apple Valley.
Granite Hills (9-3) finished second in the Desert Sky League and ended their regular season with a 42-36 loss to Rim Of The World— the team Jordan beat last week. The Cougars edged Grand Terrace 47-42 in the first round of the playoffs thanks to a phenomenal performance from running back Kameron Smith. The sophomore carried the ball 50 times for 408 yards and six touchdowns, according to MaxPreps. Both Wedlow and Washington said stopping Smith is the key to victory.
Jordan (6-5) is coming off its historic win over Rim Of The World in the first round. Senior Jeremie McGurn said after the victory that Jordan’s confidence in an unfamiliar situation came from the best week of practice the Panthers have had this season.
“Practice was the same as last week,” Washington said about this week. “Everybody showed up wanting to compete with everybody else. We kept that atmosphere.”
Washington and fellow running back Damian Henderson both scored three long touchdowns in the victory of Rim Of The World.
“That was amazing man and we all feel good about that,” Washington said of the win. “Everybody wants to play 20 times better than we did last week. I had three touchdowns last week, I’m trying to get six this week. Everybody wants an opportunity to shine.”
Wedlow said studying the film from Granite Hills’ loss to Silverado earlier this season has helped him make a game plan this week. Silverado runs similar formations to Jordan so the Panthers were able to add a few wrinkles to their look this week. Smith only ran for 66 yards on 18 carries in the Silverado game.
Granite Hills also has a decent passing attack led by quarterback Byron Rivas and receiver Malik Kinney. They have hooked up for 15 touchdowns this season.
“They’re a little faster than Rim and have a few more athletes,” Wedlow said of Granite Hills. “So, we’re going to attack their weaknesses.”