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Chargers Throw a Tailgate Party for the Lawndale vs Crenshaw Game
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Writer
Published September 26, 2019

(l-r)Former Chargers player Lorenzo Neal, tight end Virgil Green, Crenshaw athletic director Christopher Burgess, Former Chargers player Dante Hughes, Lawndale athletic director Demetre Howard and Lawndale principal Paula Rodas (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

In part of their “Fantennial Weekend,” the Los Angeles Chargers hosted a “Friday Night Lights” showdown tailgate party on Friday as Crenshaw High School battled Lawndale High School.

Lawndale football head coach, Travis Clark, was the 2018 Chargers Coach of the Year while Crenshaw football head coach Robert received the same honor in 2017. Garrett would ultimately win the NFL Don Shula Coach of the Year Award.

“They’ve been completely supportive of the program,” Lawndale athletic director Demetre Howard said about the Bolts. “Any time we’ve needed something, they’ve been there to help so it’s just an honor for them to continue to support.”

In 2018, Lawndale became the Division V Southern Section champions after defeating Palos Verdes 34-20. They went on to the Division 2-A State playoffs and ultimately defeated San Joaquin Memorial 20-12 to earn the State title.

“It’s wonderful as a public school to be able to have this honor to play against Coach Garrett with his storied history,” said Paula Rodas, principal at Lawndale high school. “Coach Clark is making his way up as well, so I think it’s a long-standing game that we’re gonna keep playing.”

The year prior, Crenshaw qualified for the City Section’s inaugural Open Division playoffs, reaching the City Section Finals but fell to Narbonne. Crenshaw qualified for the Division 4-AA State Playoffs where they eventually met Placer in the title match, defeating them 46-43.

Prior to the game, the Chargers served food and provided music and entertainment. The Bolts drumline also performed.

Lawndale cheerleaders dance at tailgate (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

“It’s a great privilege for us to have the Chargers here and all the work that they do for our school,” said Crenshaw Athletic Director and golf coach Christopher Burgess. “It’s great for the kids.”

Chargers Tight End Virgil Green and former fullback Lorenzo Neal were team captains. Crenshaw Alum and former Chargers corner Dante Hughes performed the honorary coin toss.

Hughes played alongside current Chargers nose tackle Brandon Mebane while they attended Crenshaw and the University of California.

“It feels good to be able and come back and not only be here but be in the experience and be an influence on the players and show them what you can do with football,” Hughes said.

For Neal, seeing high school football takes him back to his years at Lemoore High school. He urges the students not to take these years for granted.

“These moments that you have in high school, these Friday nights, your mom, dad and parents and families out watching you play; you [have] got to tell these young men to just enjoy it while you have it,” Neal said.

Green’s advice to the student athletes is to have fun and enjoy competing on the high school level.

“If these guys decide they want to go the next level and play college football, take their talents on to the professional level, I feel like now is the time to enjoy being a kid playing this game,” he said.

Lawndale found a way to score in every quarter. Crenshaw struggled to make plays, especially after halftime. Lawndale won the matchup 48-20 and is traveling to face Narbonne this Friday at 7:00P.M., coming into the game seeking to get their fourth win.

Crenshaw is having a slow season, facing tough loses to Garfield and Upland. After Crenshaw’s bye week, they will battle View Park at home on October 4 at 7:00 p.m.

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