Back in 2018, Inglewood was the laughing stock of the Pioneer League.
They lost 49-0 to Franklin. They lost 57-15 to Carson, 55-7 to West Torrance and 44-0 to North Torrance. They went 0-10 in the season and lost 20-7 to Morningside in the final game.
“It’s been so many years since this community had something to root for,” current Mil’Von coach James told the Daily Breeze in 2019.
Finally, they do it. Inglewood is now a powerful player, undefeated in no corner over the past few years. They moved from Division 13 to Division 2 in three seasons under James.
On Friday, Inglewood will face undefeated St. Bonaventure in the first round of the playoffs in the second division of the CIF South Division.
However, the wounds of the recent past caused by a losing and suppressed program do not always heal so easily.
Inglewood’s 106-0 game over Morningside on Friday night sparked a massive internet debate about athletic prowess. After UCLA’s Justin Martin stayed in the game until the clock hit zero, hitting 13 touchdowns and completing the two-point conversion by 104-0, the CIF South section issued a statement condemning Inglewood’s actions. Morningside coach Brian Collins called it a “classless move.” Some, for example Dick Vitale, call for discipline of the Inglewood coaching staff.
But some in the Inglewood High community see things differently – taking pride in a program that has risen from the ashes, and ignoring politeness that they think was not given to them.
“Yes, we have increased the bill,” wrote Edward Morgan, President of Premium Sports LA, on Instagram. “No one comforted Inglewood when they parted from 0 to 10 before we drove up.”
“We” here largely refers to James, who is associated with Premium Sports LA. A former UCLA player, James turned Hawkins into a strong program before being fired for using inappropriate players. Thanks to his connections through Premium Sports, James completely changed the fortunes of Inglewood in one season – from 0-10 to 12-1 in 2019 – after many transfers.
James did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.
This Inglewood team boasts seven college engagements, all of which were transfer students. While the team has remained largely silent since Friday’s breakout, some players have taken to social media to protect their coach amid calls for his firing.
“A lot of people get mad about this,” @ZSoskin wrote on Twitter, retweeted by junior defender Moyne Gummage and senior defender Clint Stevens. “Inglewood went 0-10 a year before they hired Milvon & Fig. Since then, in two full and one covid seasons, they are 25-1, and this year at least 8 seniors will receive D1 scholarships. They change the lives of children, that’s what matters. “
Similarly, Stevens retweeted another a comment defending James and his shaping program, stating that “[one] the game does not negate all the good they have done for the community. “
The general discourse on the Internet is often ugly. On Friday, @Inglewood_FBall on Twitter, which calls itself the official Inglewood Football account, tweeted, “We run the forest.” There were more accusations of poor sportsmanship in the responses.
Some Inglewood players, however, expressed bewilderment at being scolded.
The day after the victory, senior midfielder Taarik Al-Ukdah tweetedWhat happened to the hatred of Inglewood ?? … We’re just playing ball ”with facepalm and crying emoticons. Sophomore receiver Terrell Bradshaw Jr. liked the tweet.
D’Mauria’s senior successor Thomas cites Al-Uqda’s comment on Twitter and added, “Mann, I don’t understand,” with another emoji. Al-Apda and Thomas did not immediately respond to messages asking for further comment.
Inglewood School Principal Debbie Tate issued a statement on behalf of the school and the team, apologizing to Morningside and saying that James had also apologized.