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

McClymonds’ Tajir Golden and Sharky Tamale each run for two touchdowns as the Warriors blank Bishop O’Dowd: “It’s good for Oakland and good for our community for us to play Mack.”

OAKLAND – When Tajir Golden needed a break after juking and cutting his way to 140 yards and two touchdowns, McClymonds teammate John “Sharky” Tamale took over, rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns on an even ten carries.

The duo led a crushing Warriors running attack that wore down a spirited but ultimately outmatched Oakland opponent in a 45-0 victory.

So, what distinguished this game from the dozens of other similar routs that have occurred at “the Mackhouse” over the past decade and a half?

This time, however, it wasn’t an Oakland Athletic League rival who was killed on Myrtle Street.

Bishop O’Dowd, the once-dominant MVAL-WACC private school program, was defeated by the reigning 2-AA NorCal champion.

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

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

Before becoming a coach, Nickerson played 16 years in the NFL and was named to the 1990s All-Decade Team. He was the head coach at O’Dowd for four years (2010-13) before leaving to become an NFL assistant. Now in his second year as coach of the Dragons, he made it clear that he didn’t want this to be a one-time occurrence.

“It’s good for Oakland and 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.”

The Warriors were coming off a 40-0 thrashing of Bellarmine, in which the defense limited the Bells to only 12 yards from scrimmage. The Warriors were equally dominant against the Dragons, limiting them to -14 rushing yards and 29 total yards.

“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, with their own offense sputtering early, McClymonds’ defense didn’t have the luxury of playing with the lead the entire game. The game remained scoreless until eight minutes remained in the first half.

Fumbles, missed throws, blocked kicks, and two Golden kick return touchdowns were all called back due to penalties.

“We just have to keep working on it,” Peters said.

But once McClymonds got going, there was no stopping the home team and its two dynamic backs, who often shrugged off first contact.

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

With 8:00 left in the half, quarterback and kicker Isaac Espinosa bulled in for a three-yard touchdown to cap off a six-play drive. Golden slipped into the endzone from 11 yards out after McClymonds recovered an O’Dowd fumble with 3:47 left in the second quarter to make it 14-0. With less than a minute remaining in the half, Espinosa’s kick made the score 17-0.

Bishop O’Dowd’s offense, led by explosive wide receivers Miles Dixon and Deji Ajose, was limited in space. Markus Thomas, a senior defensive back for McClymonds, and Dominic Davis, a sophomore, both had interceptions in the third quarter.

Tamale scored a 15-yard touchdown and Tayshon Clayton scored a 20-yard touchdown 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) rushed for an unofficial 328 yards, Espinosa passed for 113 yards, and the defense recorded two sacks.

Even quarterback Espinosa got in on the hard-hitting action as the seconds ticked away. On the final play of the night, he ended an O’Dowd kick return by belting the returner out of bounds.

Next week, Bishop O’Dowd (1-2) hosts Castlemont, the Dragons’ third game against an OAL opponent in a row. Meanwhile, the Warriors’ schedule becomes even more difficult over the next two games, with games at San Ramon Valley and De La Salle on the schedule.

Even with a week off between next week’s SRV game and the De La Salle slugfest, Peters acknowledged how difficult it will be to come out unscathed.

“Those two right there are going to be difficult,” Peters predicted. “We’re just going to have to try to get one of them.”

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