Inglewood’s tough road to a potential championship

On Thursday, Inglewood, Calif., will play for the CIF Southern Section Division 2 Championship.

Considering the situation, it’s almost a miracle.

Obstacles for a fourth-year coach Mil’Von Jameshis staff and team are incomprehensible to most high school football teams, players and fans.

Let’s start with the field, or lack thereof.

Oh, there’s a field in Inglewood, but it’s full of dead grass and roots. The weight room is an old car shop, if you want to call it that.

Since adopting the program, James and his trainers have spent thousands of dollars, first on Craigslist and then wherever they could find weights to put together some workout room look.

This venue has two platforms donated by the Los Angeles Chargers, but they are deteriorating. Coaches would buy a 40-pound dumbbell here, a 10-pound dumbbell there, a few plates for the bench press when they found something. The benches are attached to each other with adhesive tape.

Birds sometimes fly. As James and his staff grabbed what they could and cleaned it up, the glass broke. Sometimes a rat can be seen. There is no running water. No heat in the winter, no air conditioning in the brutal Southern California summers.

When James took over, there was no training room or locker room. The coaches watched game film through a projector on the wall.

“No matter the conditions, it’s always a testament to being hungry” – Inglewood athletic director Michael Grimble he said. “Sometimes, I don’t want to say we can do better because you can always have a better opportunity, a better weight room, you always want to have the best. When you put you in a position, you have to win over the players, the coaching staff, because these guys and these That’s what makes the story great about the coaching staff and the whole system at Inglewood High, because we don’t train in the best conditions, we don’t have the best weight room, but we overcome obstacles that we can’t control.

“It’s a matter of something happening. You still have to find success.”

Despite all these obstacles, it is understandable to give up.

But this is an Inglewood team that went undefeated to the championship game against Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon, a one-time high school. Kylie and Kendall JennerLeBron James, Jr. and children of Hollywood celebrities.

The dichotomy between the two schools could not be more stark.

Sierra Canyon has a fine football field. As described for this story, Inglewood’s field has pot holes and is described as straight dust and dirt.

Inglewood’s football program does not have inline skates. This year they just bought two bags to use in practice. There is no running water at practice, so the coaches buy bottled water so the players have something to drink.

There’s Caroline Coleman Stadium in Inglewood to use, but it’s shared with Inglewood (California) Morningside and it doubles as a park, so if there’s an experience there, some people can practice or a birthday party can happen just yards away. .

Last season, Inglewood played Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany in one game, and because the stadium lights weren’t working, the coaches had to park their cars near the field during practice that week with the lights on.

It’s James who tapes his players’ ankles and wrists before games. There is no equipment manager, so an assistant coach handles these duties.

James declined to be interviewed for this story, but had plenty of praise for the Grimble high school coach.

“It comes down to practice and those guys believing in their coaches,” Grimble said. “You can play for a coach, you can’t be bought or traded. These guys, they believe. They believe in coaching, they believe in Mil’Von, and I find that refreshing and he’s a great leader for them.

“When it comes down to it, they motivate him. As an AD, I see how the games go and I talk to him on the phone every day. Just to see that … the reaction of the kids and the management, even with his staff, everyone is behind him.”

Despite all these challenges, the Inglewood team still has significant top-level talent.

Jamari Johnson is committed to Louisville, but Oregon is trying to flip him. The 2023 class also has other players committed to Nevada, Colorado State and Campbell.

In the 2024 class, Terrell Bradshaw is a three-star receiver with almost double-digit offers. 2025 quarterback Husan Longstreet has nine offers and is putting together an incredible sophomore season with 3,377 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and five picks.

To get here, Inglewood battled 2024 five-star quarterback Julian Sayin and his Carlsbad team, multiple Power Five prospects Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger, Alabama offensive line Apple Valley, Raymond Pulido, Rancho Cucamonga and survived last weekend. A 41-38 thriller against West Hills Chaminade that went to Oregon State and San Diego State.

The South Division championship falls to Inglewood and Sierra Canyon, which has Stanford DL Cameron Brandt, BYU WR pledge Josiah Phillips, Colorado State WR Lavon Brown, an impressive 2024 class and a hot 2025 quarterback.

Inglewood looks ready for the next challenge.

“We are Bane,” said a person close to the program, who did not want to be identified. “As cool as it is to be Batman and be the king of Gotham, Batman has it all. He just decides to become a superhero. Batman doesn’t have to save Gotham. He is rich, he could sit, but he decides to do it.

“Ours? We Bane. We have to sit here and fight for everything. We have to sit here in everyone’s shadow. If you ask our children our quotes every day, you’re straight ‘Adjusted to the Darkness. We were born there.” They will tell you that.”