“When the football team is doing well, the city is doing even better.”
Those were the words of former Compton football star and NFL defensive lineman Datone Jones said Saturday night after Compton’s loss in the CIF Southern Section Division 12 championship game.
Although the players were disappointed after their loss to end a historic season, the community let the team know how proud of them they were for bringing Compton back into the spotlight.
“This is kind of like a unicorn story,” Jones said. “It reminds me of my senior year, we were undefeated at one point, going in to face a great Long Beach Poly team. We kind of had this same outcome and it’s just a reminder of a strong Compton crowd, but I’m real proud of these kids and coach Bryant and the rest of the coaching staff and what they’ve been able to do. Especially with guys on this team that are going both ways. The community is always behind this team.”
With success being just out of reach in past years, Compton’s sideline was filled with former football legends ready to cheer on the current generation of athletes making their mark on the Compton community.
“It’s amazing to see the legacy that’s still going right now,” alum Porter Hill said. “For the coaches to still have the drive to have Compton going. It’s something to come together for, it’s awesome.”
The Compton faithful kept their side of the bleachers filled from start to finish to experience the historic night in Compton.
Among those crowds were former alumni that have been waiting since 1978 for the team to make it back to the championship game.
That included Johns Vincent, a 1956 Compton graduate, that couldn’t hold his emotions as he talked about what it meant to him to have Compton in the championship game.
“It’s a thrill to be here, I’ll tell you,” Vincent said as tear streamed down his face. “Long time coming, I’ve been coming back now for about 10 to 12 years and this is a thrill to be here to witness this championship game.”
Compton assistant coach Daniel Tillman was also happy for his players that got to experience what he and his teammates from the 1978 team experienced – a championship played in Compton.
“I always thought we could win,” Tillman said. “It was just going to be a matter of time. We’ve been peaking over the years – the last 10 years. But once we got it together and that good group came in and that good offensive line, we just put it all together. I knew there was no stopping us.”