East County Sports

King Jahmon powers Monarchs to throne

Monte Vista junior JAHMON MCCLENDON rushes against San Diego in the CIF Division 4 championship game on Friday. / photo by Tammy Ryan

Monte Vista celebrates following its victory in the D4 title game over San Diego High. / photo by Tammy Ryan – TRyanPhotography






Special to EastCountySports.com


CHULA VISTA – RON HAMAMOTO was in his second year as a head coach at USDHS in 1986 when a 4-6 El Camino team whooped his 9-1 Dons by 30 points in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.

“Herb Meyer taught me a long time ago,” Hamamoto began. “He told me, ‘Young man, you want to win a championship, you better toughen up your schedule.’ ”

Hamamoto took the advice and since has always tried to schedule tough non-league opponents in order to prepare his squad for the playoffs.

Monte Vista records a sack during the CIF championship game. / photo by Tammy Ryan – TRyan Photography

Such was the case this year as No. 4-seeded Monte Vista entered Friday’s San Diego Section Division IV championship game with a 7-5 record against unbeaten San Diego.

“We thought we played a tougher schedule than San Diego,” Hamamoto said. “We thought we could be physical with them. We thought we could run the ball on them.”

Hamamoto never thought he would witness what he did, however.

Playing sick and slightly dehydrated, junior running back JAHMON McCLENDON continually picked himself off the training table and turned in a record-setting performance as Monte Vista raced past San Diego for a 71-48 victory in the highest-scoring title game in section history.

McClendon rushed for 383 yards and a record eight touchdowns to lead the Monarchs (8-5) to their third section title in school history, having won banners in 2003 and 1995.

“I was very tired,” McClendon said. “I didn’t eat anything all day.”

McClendon scored on runs of 3, 42, 44, 32, 49, 23, 10 and 48 yards to set a section championship-game record, and he also tied the all-time section single-game record set earlier this year by Rancho Buena Vista junior Dorian Richardson against Santana.

McClendon was two yards shy of the section title-game record for rushing yards.

“Jahmon was incredible,” Monte Vista two-way star BLAKE SCHMIDT said. “A lot of times he got hit, but he kept his feet moving, somehow kept his balance and kept going. He must have tremendous yards after contact.”

He did, getting the most out of a running play the Monarchs call “2-Power”. Most times it was “2-Power Right”, but “2-Power Left” also worked very well.

“It’s actually the first time that play has gone this well,” McClendon said.

ELSHADDAI LEVI added 83 rushing yards on eight carries, including a 55-yard touchdown run. TERELL KYLE posted 76 yards on six attempts, including a 48-yard and a 3-yard touchdown plunge. Henderson got 32 yards out of five sorties.

“Our O-line was great,” McClendon said. “Got to give it up to them. When I have a good game, it’s because they have a good game.”

Monte Vista brings down a Caver ball carrier on Saturday. / photo by Tammy Ryan – TRyanPhotography

McClendon has had many good games, having rushed now for 2,353 yards and 37 touchdowns this season. He has 3,919 career rushing yards and 58 touchdowns.

“They say he runs like Eric Dickerson,” San Diego coach Charles James said. “He reminds me of Adrian Peterson. He’s just so hard to bring down. And he’s fast.”

Doing the tremendous blocking for Monte Vista were EMMANUEL MENDES, JACK WALKER, CHRISTIAN DE LA CRUZ, RON BARRY, DAVON OULDS and tight ends BRAXTON SCHULTZ and Blake Schmidt.

LOGAN SCHMIDT led the defense with 15 tackles. Brother Blake (seven tackles) had two sacks for minus-14 yards. JEVON BROOKS had eight tackles and a 37-yard interception return. Henderson also had an interception.

AMIR CONLEY, Logan Schmidt and Kyle recorded passes defended. The Schmidt brothers combined for five tackles for loss. Kyle also blocked a PAT attempt and thwarted a 2-point conversion try with a huge hit.

San Diego obviously put up some big numbers on offense, but the Cavers couldn’t match the 574 rushing yards Monte Vista gained.

Henderson attempted only three passes, all in the first half, completing one for 22 yards to Blake Schmidt.

San Diego quarterback Quinn O’Connor completed 16 of 25 attempts for 317 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions. Thomas Marcus, bound for Arizona, also completed a 23-yard pass.

Daniel Thomas made two super spectacular one-handed touchdown grabs of 30 and 70 yards and finished with 116 yards.

McClendon heads to the end zone for one of his eight touchdowns in the CIF Division 4 championship. / photo by Tammy Ryan – TRyanPhotography

“We have no reason to hang our heads,” James said. “It was a magical season. At the end of the year, we’ll sit back and enjoy this season. This is a very special group.

“We knew they had a tough team and played a tougher schedule. They have size. They’ve been here before. They have guys with experience, and this was all new to us.

“Plus, they have a living legend for a head coach in Ron Hamamato. “He’s such a great coach. Year after year he somehow manages to get the most out of his players.

With the win, Monte Vista moves on to the state playoffs next week, perhaps against Orange or Yermo Silver Valley.

Keep in mind, the young Monarchs have only six seniors on their roster. The rest are mostly juniors and sophomores.

After years of futility, San Diego (12-1) was enjoying its finest season in a long time. The Cavers were co-champions in 1969 but hadn’t won an outright championship since 1959 (the section began in 1960).

Monte Vista head coach RON HAMAMOTO and CIF commissioner JERRY SCHNIEPP. / photo by Tammy Ryan – TRyanPhotography

Hamamoto was 1-3 as a head coach in championship games, but he’s also the only coach in section history to lead four different schools to titles games and is fifth all-time in coaching wins with 217. That fellow he got advice from in 1986, Herb Meyer, is the all-time leader with 339 wins, good for third in state history.

Oddly enough, Friday’s track meet featuring 119 points, merely tied Hamamoto’s highest scoring game as a coach. He was coach of Rancho Bernardo in a same score of 71-48 in a quarterfinal playoff win over West Hills in 1999. Hamamoto’s Broncos rushed for a section-record 698 yards in that tilt.

West Hills threw for 449 yards in that same game. Rancho Bernardo got 784 total yards in that game.

Friday’s crazy affair against San Diego featured 596 total yards by the Monarchs and 454 for the Cavers for a grand total of 1,050 and 17 touchdowns (more than some teams score all season).

Hamamoto won a title with USDHS in 1994, then lost in championship games with Rancho Bernardo in 2001, with Lincoln in 2010 and with Monte Vista in 2013. The latter was a heart-breaking 7-0 loss to Sweetwater.

This game was – shall we say – a little different.

“We had a good game,” the understated coach said. ““Any time you win a championship, it feels great. I didn’t expect this track meet here, but we’ll take it.”

Despite the seemingly lopsided basketball-like score, this game featured lots of drama and some see-saw score swings.

McClendon provided the Monarchs with a 14-0 lead, but San Diego tied it midway through the second quarter.

McClendon’s 44-yard TD gave the Monarchs a 21-14 lead, but San Diego answered with Thomas’ first circus catch of 30 yards, and a 2-point conversion gave the Caves a brief 22-21 lead.

Seniors AMIR CONLEY and TORREY MACK celebrate with the championship trophy. / photo by Tammy Ryan – TRyanPhotography

Back to McClendon: 32-yard touchdown and a 29-22 after Kyle ran in the 2-point conversion.

On that fourth score from McClendon, he appeared to have sustained a head injury after diving into the right goal-line pylon. He rolled a bit after the play and stayed on the ground for several moments before getting up wobbly.

He looked dazed and confused on the sideline afterward, but it turned out he was just feeling the effects of not having eaten all day and then rushing for 206 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, while also playing safety on defense.

“He was too nervous to eat all day,” Hamamoto said. “We weren’t sure he was going to be able to play the second half, but the trainers checked him out thoroughly, and they cleared him to continue.”

McClendon spent halftime and the first few minutes of the second half attempting to wolf down nutrition bars and fluids.

He reappeared midway through the third quarter, but gained zero on his first carry. Then he got seven yards. Then he got his longest run of the night, a 49-yard TD on “2-Power Left.”

“We were concerned he wouldn’t play in the second half,” Blake Schmidt said. “But he’s amazing. In the back of my mind, I knew he’d be coming back in. He’s our brother. He’s got our backs, and we’ve got his back.”

After San Diego scored once again, McClendon was back to work, reeling off a 23-yard TD for a 43-28 lead.

Levi scored next on a 55-yard run to make it 50-28. McClendon scored next on a 10-yard run in what might have been his best run of the night.

Monte Vista senior lineman DAVON OULDS is presented with the sportsmanship award following the Monarchs’ win. / photo by Tammy Ryan – TRyanPhotography

On first-and-goal from the 10-yard line, McClendon ran “2-Power Right” and was hit hard at the 5-yard line by several Cavers. He somehow managed to spin full circle, regain his balance with a Caver clinging to his ankle, and then carried a huge pile another four yards close to the goal line.

As that pile all seemed to drop at the 1-yard line, McClendon somehow escaped and was next seen in the back of the end zone. He just would not go down, and the Monarchs now had a 57-28 lead.

In a seemingly endless game that pushed the start time of the Division I championship game back 55 minutes, Kyle scored on a 3-yard run to make it 64-34 with 5:59 to play.

After yet another San Diego comeback attempt and a score, McClendon wasn’t finished. He added a 48-yard score at 2:43 for a 71-42 lead.

On Monte Vista’s 10 touchdowns, JASON HERNANDEZ was 9-for-9 on PAT attempts, which has to be another section title-game record.

After the game and the obligatory TV interviews, McClendon seemed barely able to walk, gripping at this right hind thigh with every step.

“I’m cramping big-time and I’m sore,” he grimaced. “But it was all worth it. This was a great night for Monte Vista.”


Monte Vista senior EMMANUEL MENDES

Scoring Summary


Monte Vista – Run, TOUCHDOWN by J. Mcclendon for a 4-yard gain Extra Point by J. Hernandez

Monte Vista – Run, TOUCHDOWN by J. Mcclendon for a 42-yard gain Extra Point by J. Hernandez


San Diego – Pass, TOUCHDOWN from Q. O’connor to C. Johnson for a 33-yard gain Extra Point unsuccessful

San Diego – Pass, TOUCHDOWN from Q. O’connor to J. Wickware for a 3-yard gain Two Point Conversion Pass from Q. O’connor to D. Thomas

Monte Vista – Run, TOUCHDOWN by J. Mcclendon for a 44-yard gain Extra Point by J. Hernandez

San Diego – Pass, TOUCHDOWN from Q. O’connor to D. Thomas for a 30-yard gain Two Point Conversion Pass from Q. O’connor to T. Marcus

Monte Vista – Run, TOUCHDOWN by J. Mcclendon for a 32-yard gain Two Point Conversion Run by _. Colon


Monte Vista – Run, TOUCHDOWN by J. Mcclendon for a 49-yard gain Extra Point by J. Hernandez

San Diego – Pass, TOUCHDOWN from Q. O’connor to D. Thomas for a 70-yard gain Two Point Conversion Pass unsuccessful

Monte Vista – Run, TOUCHDOWN by J. Mcclendon for a 23-yard gain Extra Point by J. Hernandez

Monte Vista – Run, TOUCHDOWN by E. Levi for a 55-yard gain Extra Point by J. Hernandez


Monte Vista – Run, TOUCHDOWN by J. Mcclendon for a 10-yard gain Extra Point by J. Hernandez

San Diego – Run, TOUCHDOWN by T. Marcus for a 2-yard gain Two Point Conversion Pass unsuccessful

San Diego – Run, TOUCHDOWN by T. Marcus for a 2-yard gain Two Point Conversion Pass unsuccessful

Monte Vista – Run, TOUCHDOWN by T. Kyle for a 3-yard gain Extra Point by J. Hernandez

San Diego – Pass, TOUCHDOWN from Q. O’connor to J. Wickware for a 4-yard gain Two Point Conversion Run by R. Hunter

Monte Vista – Run, TOUCHDOWN by J. Mcclendon for a 48-yard gain Extra Point by J. Hernandez

San Diego – Run, TOUCHDOWN by T. Marcus for a 1-yard gain Two Point Conversion Pass unsuccessful

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