Football players in red and others walk on field with one player holding a trophy in the air

Kennedy High Celebrates Senior Night With Shutout of Richmond High

Football players in red and others walk on field with one player holding a trophy in the air

The Kennedy High Eagles, in line for a postgame handshake with the Richmond High Oilers, earned the Sylvester Greenwood trophy as winners of the intra-city clash.

Story and photos by Joe Porrello

A senior night shutout in Richmond was just what the doctor ordered for Kennedy High after having to forfeit last week’s game due to fighting.

The Eagles bout at Vallejo High on Oct. 20 ended with them down 14 points in the third quarter after multiple brawls broke out amongst players, coaches, and fans. According to the parent of a Kennedy High player, referees were in their cars and gone by the time the last tussle was over.

Two games on the same day in late August in San Jose and Fremont also ended early due to fans fighting.

“Last week was out of character for us. People think that’s us, but I don’t think it is,” said senior Eagles quarterback Emilliano Rodriguez. “We were there to play football, and stuff just got out of hand.”

Multiple fourth-year Eagles players were unable to join their teammates for pregame senior night traditions because of suspensions from the fights. Those playing in possibly their last game at Kennedy High walked onto the field one-by-one with their families holding bouquets of flowers before the game began.


Despite having to pull five players from the junior varsity squad just to compete, Eagles interim head coach Carl Sumler was pleased with the outcome.

“The plan was just to make it through the game,” he said. “It’s exciting knowing we could get through the adversity and take a step forward.”

Sumler is the athletic director of Kennedy High and took the place of fifth-year head coach Greg Marshall for one game, who was also suspended. 

“The players, you know, they miss their leader,” Sumler said. “But the other coaches did a great job and stepped in.”

The A.D. has coaching prowess of his own as head of the Eagles track and cross country teams. 

Kennedy High kept possession of the Sylvester Greenwood Trophy given to the winner of the intra-city rivalry, and about 150 fans along with the Eagles band braved the sub-50 degree temperatures to cheer on their teams.

Last season, Richmond High forfeited its game with the Eagles due to a lack of players.

Friday’s matchup took over three hours due to four injury timeouts on the Oilers side, including one that paused the game for over 30 minutes before the player exited in an ambulance.

Proceeding with caution after the fiasco in Vallejo, officials were quick to blow plays dead on loss of forward progress, and security was tight — patrolling and questioning those not in the bleachers.

A surprise onside kick to start the game from the Oilers recovered by Kennedy gave the Eagles favorable field position that they used to score a quick touchdown.

Richmond High couldn’t capitalize on a recovered onside kick of their own, and fumbled the ball twice before punting. 

The Oilers would grass the pigskin on a pair of plays again during their second offensive drive, the latter being a turnover.

Kennedy High turned the miscue into a 14-point lead when they notched their second touchdown early in the second quarter, which would be the end of the game’s offensive output.

Coming as close as they would be to scoring before halftime on their longest play of the game, the Oilers came up five yards short of the goal line and couldn’t cash in before time expired.

The Eagles used a trick “flea-flicker” play in the third quarter to get senior receiver Deondre Prim wide open in the endzone, but he couldn’t corral the pass — drawing groans from the crowd.

Returning their second interception of the half for a touchdown, Kennedy High put the finishing touches on a 20-0 victory.


Richmond High came in winless on the road as well as in the Tri-County-Stone League, and it would stay that way. The Oilers suffered their sixth straight loss and have been shut out four of their last six games.

Already improving their overall and league records from last season and having their best season in four years, Kennedy High is off to a fresh start on their new turf field christened this year.

However, the Eagles will be let down without a postseason appearance and another chance for their suspended seniors to end on a higher note.

“It’s pretty disappointing if this is the last game. I hope it’s not,” said Rodriguez. “I think that if we get into the playoffs at full strength, we have a chance.”

Kennedy High is looking for one last regular season matchup to replace a game forfeited by an opponent earlier this year, thus improving their chances at a playoff berth if victorious. 

The Oilers will finish their season on a third consecutive road game against Vallejo High this Friday.

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