Oakland needed something to celebrate and the McClymonds’ High School football team has delivered with a state championship and an underdog story of hard work and dedication.
The city honored the team with a rally outside City Hall on Friday afternoon. The young players and cheerleaders boarded an open-topped, double-decker bus to caravan from downtown to the West Oakland school.
On Dec. 17, the Warriors became the first Oakland Athletic League team to reach the state championship level by beating La Jolla Country Day School 20-17 and winning the 5A division championship.
The school has less than 400 students, down from 900 in recent decades. Michael Peters has coached the team for 26 years.
“When they got to the state level, even before the championship, I knew we’d be doing a parade of some sort, some kind of celebration. Once they won, we started planning bigger,” said Oakland Unified School District spokesman John Sasaki.
Sasaki said the event was paid for by the Oakland Education Fund, the McClymonds alumni community, and Oakland Athletic League coaches.
Mayor Libby Schaaf, City Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney, school administrators and other officials greeted the team.
“There’s no precedent for this,” said Schaaf’s spokesman Michael Hunt. “They were the underdogs and McClymonds means a lot to West Oakland.”
The caravan traveled down Broadway to Jack London Square, zigzag across West Oakland, passing by the elementary schools that feed into McClymonds, and arrive at the high school for an ice cream social at 3:30 p.m.
Across town, the Bishop O’Dowd High School Dragons also won their division championship, a first for the Catholic school.
The team celebrated at the private school Friday morning. Spokeswoman Lisa Coffey-Mahoney said the rally started with a prayer, then cheerleaders led the team around the quad.