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High school football: McClymonds runs over Bishop O’Dowd in long-awaited Oakland showdown

High school football: McClymonds runs over Bishop O’Dowd in long-awaited Oakland showdown

OAKLAND – When Tajir Golden needed a breather after juking and cutting en-route to 140 yards and two touchdowns, his McClymonds teammate John “Sharky” Tamale took the baton, rushing for 137 yards and two TDs on an even 10 carries. 

As is so often the case on Friday nights, the duo spearheaded a crushing Warriors running game that wore down a spirited but ultimately overmatched Oakland opponent in a 45-0 victory. 

So what made this game any different from the dozens of other similar routs that have taken place at “the Mackhouse” over the past decade and a half?

Well, this time, it wasn’t an Oakland Athletic League rival being run over on Myrtle Street. 

It was Bishop O’Dowd, the once-powerful private school program from the MVAL-WACC, that took its lumps against the reigning 2-AA NorCal champion. 

OAKLAND – McClymonds coach Michael Peters (white shirt on right) and Bishop O’Dowd coach Hardy Nickerson Sr. (black shirt on left) talk before the game. McClymonds and Bishop O’Dowd played in a high school football game at McClymonds high school in Oakland, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 

What took so long for the programs to play again after an 11-year hiatus from 2012-23?

“It took Hardy coming back,” McClymonds coach Michael Peters said, referring to O’Dowd coach Hardy Nickerson Sr. returning for a second coaching stint at the school. “Hardy played us the first time (he was the coach), and Hardy has played us the second time … so my hat’s off to Hardy.”

Nickerson made it clear he didn’t want this to be a one-off either. 

“It’s good for Oakland and good for our community for us to play Mack,” Nickerson said after the first meeting since O’Dowd defeated McClymonds 33-26 in 2012. “Hopefully in the future we can make this more of a game.”

OAKLAND – McClymonds RB Tajir Golden (6) is tackled by O’Dowd’s Miles Dixon (1) in the first half. McClymonds and Bishop O’Dowd played in a high school football game at McClymonds high school in Oakland, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 

The Warriors were coming off a 40-0 rout at Bellarmine, where the defense held the Bells to 12 yards from scrimmage. The Warriors were just as dominant against the Dragons, holding their opponent to negative-14 rushing yards and 29 total.

“It’s been amazing, because our defense is putting up a fight against two heavyweight offensive and passing teams,” Tamale, who also plays linebacker, said. 

And McClymonds’ defense didn’t have the luxury of playing with the lead for the whole game either, with their own offense sputtering early. The game was scoreless until the eight minutes left in the first half. 

There were fumbles, missed throws, blocked kicks and two Golden kick return TDs called back because of penalties. 

“We’ve just gotta keep working on things,” McClymonds coach Michael Peters said.

OAKLAND – McClymonds senior LB Troy Hill (22) holds up the ball after recovering a fumble. McClymonds and Bishop O’Dowd played in a high school football game at McClymonds high school in Oakland, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 

But when McClymonds got rolling, there was no stopping the home team and its two dynamic backs, who shrugged off first contact more often than not.

“Me and him have been working in the weight room a lot,” Tamale said.

Quarterback and kicker Isaac Espinosa bulled in for a three-yard TD  to cap off a six-play drive with 8:00 left in the half. After McClymonds recovered an O’Dowd fumble with 3:47 to go in the second quarter, Golden slipped into the endzone from 11 yards out to make it 14-0. Espinosa’s kick with under a minute left set the halftime score at 17-0.

Bishop O’Dowd’s offense, headlined by explosive wide receivers Miles Dixon and Deji Ajose, had very little room the operate. McClymonds senior DB Markus Thomas and sophomore Dominic Davis each had interceptions in the third quarter. 

OAKLAND – Bishop O’Dowd WR Miles Dixon (1) tries to break out of a tackle in the first half. McClymonds and Bishop O’Dowd played in a high school football game at McClymonds high school in Oakland, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 

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Tamale ran for a 15-yard TD, Tayshon Clayton ran for a 20-yard TD as part of a three-touchdown quarter that ended with a running clock speeding through the final 14 minutes of the game. 

McClymonds (2-0) ran for an unofficial 328 yards, and Espinosa passed for 113 while the defense notched two sacks. 

As the second ran down, even the quarterback Espinosa got in on the hard-hitting action. He turned ended an O’Dowd kick return by belting the returner out of bounds on the final play of the night. 

Bishop O’Dowd (1-2) plays host to Castlemont next week, the Dragons’ third consecutive game against an OAL opponent. Meanwhile, the Warriors’ schedule gets even tougher over the next two games, with matchups at San Ramon Valley and De La Salle on the docket.

Even with a bye week in between next week’s SRV game and the De La Salle slugfest, Peters acknowledged how difficult getting through unscathed will be. 

“Them two right there are going to be tough,” Peters said. “We’re just going to have to try to get one of them.”

OAKLAND – McClymonds RB Tajir Golden runs for an 11 yard touchdown. McClymonds and Bishop O’Dowd played in a high school football game at McClymonds high school in Oakland, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group)