Sacramento Proud: The Kings & High School Football


Sacramento, California is home to some of the best sports fans in the world. In the political capital of the state that holds the largest economical impact of our country, nothing trumps the pride brought to the Sacramento community more than the local sports scene. Residents fought tooth and nail in order to keep their team at home throughout the 2012-2013 saga that ultimately ended in the NBA’s approval of the team staying in Sacramento and a new stadium being built to open next year.

On a much more local level, the Sacramento community is completely immersed in its youth each year when the high school football season begins. Each year perennial state and national programs that boast an impressive resume’ of professional talent take to the field to give their all in hopes of a state championship and regional supremacy.

Regardless of the various and vast economic levels that east, north, west, and south Sacramento/Elk Grove offer, all is equal on the gridiron. Communities come together each Friday night to watch these young student athletes take part in a special event that will be remembered forever by those on field. At the end of the game, teams separate and head home towards their respective campuses, separated by district but united by the area code.

The Kings & high school football; that is Sacramento Proud.

What a wonderful time to be a fan in Sacramento. In April during the 1st round of the NFL Draft, two players from the area, Shaq Thompson (Grant Union High School) & Arik Armstead (Pleasant Grove High School), were selected to the Carolina Panthers and the San Francisco 49ers, respectively.

The current construction of the Golden 1 Center downtown only enhanced the hype brought forth during the the offseason by roster moves made by Kings hero and now GM Vlade Divac. Consistently overshadowed by southern California sporting programs and teams, Sacramento pride was running at an all time high and the area was primed for the spotlight.

Then came November & two weeks into the season. The Kings had more than enough media attention on them as a 1-7 start had ugly rumors flying and national media speculators ready to close the books on the once hopeful squad. Reports flew and Demarcus Cousins allegedly said some things, but after a home win against the Pistons, Sacramento fans were at peace for the evening. It was a solid bounce back effort, a fantastic team win that displayed Sacramento in control from start to finish and featured 33 points by Cousins and a triple double by Rajon Rondo.

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All was fine in the Capital City after the win, the Kings were ready to take on Brooklyn Friday evening, and the CIF Section High School Playoffs were set to begin. The same light that seemed to be extinguished by the Kings less than desirable start had seemed to be showing again and Thursday became irrelevant as everyone throughout the city was ready for Friday.

Friday, November 13th.

Horrific events in France took place earlier and throughout the day, with reports still coming in, our hearts were and still are with those effected by the tragedies taking place.

At home however, hundreds of young men were ready to storm the field and fight for one more game on the road towards a State Championship and to continue not only their season, but in most cases, their football careers. Thousands more were ready to head towards Sleep Train Arena and see if the Pistons win was a fluke or if the team had finally gotten their swagger back and were ready to play to their potential.

According to local news station KCRA, around 3:30 PM reports came in that there was a shooting near Grant Union High School, two victims were shot, driven back to campus for help, and rushed to the hospital. The events caused the campus to be closed down for the evening and the opening round playoff game between Grant Union High School and Beyer High School of Modesto to be postponed.

Both victims were players on the varsity roster for Grant’s football team. Malik Johnson suffered non life threatening injuries during the shooting, Jaulon Clavo did not survive the injuries and passed away at the hospital ( The motive is still unclear at this point, and police are still investigating to see if there was an altercation that lead to this event.

Regardless of what this may be in connection to, those two young men woke up that morning expecting to play in a high school playoff game that evening.

Now the community is mourning a tragic event, and the loss of a life.

Grant Union High School is located in Del Paso Heights, a neighborhood within the city of Sacramento that boasts a wonderfully rich history of athletic dominance. In addition to sending Shaq Thompson (above) to the NFL in the first round, they have several NFL Alumni that also include standout wide receiver D0nte’ Stallworth.

The community has had its issues with crime over the years, but the football program has long been a staple of safety and pride on a local and state-wide level. They even have a very special fan who despite being from Alabama, has grown to love the community and spirit that it encompasses.

Despite the millions around the world that were mourning the events in France and countless individuals shocked and effected by the events within the local community, there were games to be played. The Kings carried on and took the court against the Nets as many young men and women stormed the field to play their high school playoff games with the added weight of a heavy heart on top of their pads and sneakers.

Sacramento came out and played with an invigorating fever that never faltered throughout the full 48 minutes on the court. Each ounce of energy was necessary, as it took 40 points and 13 rebounds from Cousins and another triple double by Rondo to win the game by 2, improving their record to 3-7.

Kings fans have every reason to be cheerful. A dominating combination of Rondo and Cousins is an excellent recipe to success, while winning seems to be the magical cure for any sort of disgruntled comment or troubled player meeting. The rest of the playoff games went on as scheduled and at the end of the night with a win in the books and the efforts displayed across the city on the football field, community sports seemed to have trumped the wicked actions of the day.

On Saturday, reports surfaced from a Sacramento city official that Cousins has reached out to the family of slain football player Jaulon Clavo in an effort to cover the cost of the funeral services. This was news to national media of course, as their view of Demarcus Cousins differs greatly from those that Sacramento citizens hold.

Demarcus has for a while now been more than just interested in Sacramento area high school sports. He has sat courtside at games, spoken with students, and even made considerable donations to local schools within the Sacramento area. As the Kings drafted Demarcus, the community has adopted him, and he has embraced our welcome. Though no comment was issued by Cousins prior to their home game against the Nets this past Friday, I’m positive that he was aware of the events at Grant High School, and that it inspired his emotions on the court.

Just to put to rest any ignorant belief or hunch that Cousins did this as a stunt to boost his image, the news of the payment for funeral services came from a councilman at the candlelight services that evening, not from Boogie’s camp.

At this point, the Kings are much more than just a team for Sacramento. They are residents hope and belief at a winning identity. Sacramento has been marred by national headlines of scandal with our mayor, collegiate campus shootings, and scorned with increasing violent crime rates ( The Kings troubles on court early this season will hardly be remembered even by the team and city’s harshest critics should they play as they have recently and string together a few well deserved wins.

The winning attitude brought on in the early ‘2000’s to the city by the team is not gone or forgotten, and the resiliency that this team has been able to show on the court in the face of adversity and under national scrutiny is a statement towards national media that they are fine, and that they are capable of success.

The early onslaught of panic and pressure by poor results can be forgotten and dismissed with the competitive ability and winning record the Kings are made of. Fans of the team and city officials have adopted the “#SacramentoProud” saying as a slogan for what the city has and what the city represents.

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Again, the city of Sacramento is faced with an unfortunate event that has effected a community of citizens in an unwanted fashion. There is no cure for the loss of a young man at the end of another successful season for a team that fuels its neighborhood. Winning however, may just help ease the pain.

Grant Union High School is a #1 seed in their division for their section playoffs and are expected to defeat opponent Beyer High School. The Kings will take their 3-7 record next up against the visiting Toronto Raptors, and will look to keep the continuing success going.

Competing and winning is a tradition that runs deep in the Sacramento community. The city cannot change or always prevent the negative events that are brought on or triggered by actions out of immediate control, but as much as competing is a tradition throughout the city, such is the city’s resilience.

As a community and individually as fans, the support and attention garnered within our community for our athletes on a professional and amateur level is incomprehensible to outsiders and unmeasurable to critics.

Next: Preview: Toronto Raptors at Sacramento Kings

As the Kings take the court against the Raptors and Grant takes the field against Beyer, our community will collectively cheer for both teams to bring home the victory and restore the competitive attitude our community will forever hold its head high on. That is Sacramento, Proud.