As the Jordan Panthers contingent walked into the CIF Southern Section football championship luncheon at The Grand Hotel in Long Beach on Monday, principal Keisha Irving looked around and nodded her head.
“We’ve got to do this more often,” she said. “We should get used to being here.”
This is the first time Jordan has ever reached a CIF football championship game, and the Panthers will travel to Irvine to play Northwood on Friday night.
“It’s a great feeling to see the alumni and community so excited about the North Side and Jordan High,” Irving said. “The energy just keeps getting stronger and stronger. We’ve had people calling the school for game locations before we even reach the next round. We’ve been selling out of Jordan apparel. They’re hyped. ”
Irving was joined by athletic director Lamar Biffle, coach Tim Wedlow and seniors Jeremie McGurn, Elijah Jones and King Manukilea at the Jordan table on Monday.
Along with getting introduced to all of the finalists in attendance and eating together, the group was lucky enough to hear keynote speaker LaDanian Tomlinson. The NFL Hall of Famer talked about how he sacrificed to take his team to new heights.
“His speech was so cool and I used to watch him on TV when I was younger,” McGurn said. “I feel like his speech was straight to us. I feel like we could really connect to his story… This has been a different experience for everybody on this team. It’s just a different feeling to be winning.”
Wedlow, who has reached championships games as an assistant coach at Long Beach Poly, said it was surreal to be sitting alongside the other finalists.
“Here I am bringing Jordan here to the luncheon… This means a whole lot to us,” Wedlow said. “We are peaking right now. Everybody is hungry and they want to win it all. It’s a great feeling.”