With no winning season in about 15 years, you'd expect an East Bay high school football team to be down in the dumps, but players say this year is different.
And now the Kennedy High School Eagles are winning, although faced with plenty of reasons to fail.
“We have a very unique group of young men on our team,” said the Richmond team’s head coach, George Jackson.
He continued: “We have multiple kids on our team that [have] been shot” and others who are homeless and still more who return home “to not having a mother” there.
Akeli Nelson is the team’s top receiver. His father was killed on the streets of Richmond when he was only three months old. For him, the Eagles are his family.
“Just because we grew up around people shooting and killing [doesn’t] mean we want to be like that,” he said. “In my team’s eyes I see … they don’t want to be like that.”
The Eagles took on the Albany High School Cougars on Friday and beat them 20-0.
The Eagles may be winning on the football field, but their goal is to win at life. They know in order to do that, education is the key.”
“They have to maintain a 2.0,” Jackson said. “If you get below a 2.0, you will not play on the football field.”
Kenneth Singleton’s field of dreams was almost taken away three years ago when he was robbed and shot twice. He landed in a coma and almost died.
Landing a spot on the Eagles means everything to him, he said.
“I love all of them,” Kenneth said. “I know we love each other. The main thing we say before each game is ‘We all we got, we all we need.’”
And that’s a motto the football team lives by.
“Come out and support these kids,” Jackson said. “These kids – that’s what it’s all about.”