Isaac Espinosa had no clue he would be kicking for a place in Oakland sports history when taking the McClymonds High School football field last Friday night. When the junior’s 53-yard field goal sailed through the uprights, he became an Oakland Athletic League record-holder with the longest field goal.
The kick was a small contribution to the Warriors’ 60-6 win over Castlemont High. But entering Thursday’s rivalry game at Oakland Tech, defending state champion McClymonds knows it has a rare offensive weapon in Espinosa.
“It was a highlight of the game, and we have some schools calling now,” McClymonds coach Michael Peters said of how the kick could boost Espinosa’s college football prospects. “He won two games for us in the preseason. That’s a weapon every school wishes it could have.”
Oakland Tech and McClymonds are unbeaten in OAL play entering the regular-season finale on Thursday, Nov. 10. The winner will earn the No. 1 seed in the four-team OAL postseason, which culminates with the championship game (the Silver Bowl) on November 26. McClymonds has claimed 12 consecutive Silver Bowl titles and won four state championship games in the past five seasons, including a 54-7 drubbing of Birmingham High-Lake Balboa in last year’s Division 3-A final.
Through all the winning, Peters has never seen an OAL kicker with the leg strength of Espinosa, a transfer from De Anza High in Richmond who routinely makes 50-yard field goals in practice.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking,” Espinosa, a junior, said of the 53-yard field-goal attempt. “But when I have my teammates behind me I know I can accomplish anything. Coach said, ‘You have a record,’ and I was amazed.”
Running back Jaivian Thomas, who has scored 19 touchdowns this season and has scholarship offers from Division I universities, celebrated the field goal with teammates on the sideline. “I was hyped,” the senior said. “Everyone was jumping up, excited for him.”
A MaxPreps article from 2020 reported that the national high school record for longest field goal is 68 yards, set by Reno High (Nevada) kicker Dirk Borgognone on Sept. 27, 1985. While the California record at that time was 64 yards, Espinosa’s 53-yard boot matches the 2020 records of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Justin Tucker has the NFL record at 66 yards, set in 2021.
McClymonds’ focus now turns to Oakland Tech, where defensive end Omar Staples and running back Anthony Alonzo have led the Bulldogs to an 8-1 overall record (4-0 in OAL). Tech hasn’t lost since Sept. 16 (to St. Vincent de Paul of Petaluma) and has won each league game by 18 or more points. McClymonds (8-1, 4-0) hasn’t lost since Sept. 30 (to Pittsburg) and has won each league game by 52 or more points. Thursday’s game is likely a Silver Bowl preview.
“Everybody comes with their ‘A’ game when they play us,” said Peters, whose son Marcus Peters, 29, helped start this McClymonds dynasty and now plays for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. “We are trying to prepare each game the same and get back to state [playoffs].”
Michael Peters credits a powerful offensive line, led by 255-pound guard Jaysen Cole, with creating running lanes for Thomas and teammate Ferrari Miller Jr. While McClymonds is favored to repeat as league champions, Peters makes sure his team doesn’t take games for granted.
“I tell my team each season, the team before you is gone already, so it’s time for you to step up,” the coach said. “The jersey can’t play for you.”
Football schedule: McClymonds visits Oakland Tech at 7 p.m. Thursday. It is Senior Night for the Bulldogs. In other Thursday football action, Castlemont (4-6 overall, 2-2 in OAL) visits Fremont (5-4, 2-2) to determine the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds in the OAL playoffs. Skyline High (1-8, 0-4) visits Oakland High (0-8, 0-4). Tickets can be purchased on the Hometown Fan app.
Girls tennis: Oakland High senior Deja Hernandez finished an undefeated season by capturing the Oakland Athletic League girls singles tennis championship Monday at McClymonds High School. Hernandez defeated Oakland Tech senior Tashiko Smith. Oakland Tech won the team title. The OAL doubles championships continue through Thursday at McClymonds High.
Girls volleyball: Skyline High defeated visiting California Crosspoint Academy of Hayward in three sets (25-13, 25-13, 25-10) in the opening round of the CIF State Division IV girls volleyball playoffs Tuesday. The No. 1-seed Titans next host No. 8 Bear River at 6 p.m. Thursday. No. 15 Oakland Tech lost to No. 2 Willows High in the first round. Skyline, which recently won the OAL and CIF Oakland Section championships, reached last season’s Division IV state title game.
Key to the City: NFL quarterback Josh Johnson, a 2004 Oakland Tech graduate, was given a Key to the City by Mayor Libby Schaaf during a Saturday ceremony at West Oakland Youth Center. Johnson, who in 2011 co-founded the Fam1st Family Foundation with friends and fellow football stars Marshawn Lynch and Marcus Peters, was recognized for his leadership.
At the ceremony, Johnson recognized his mother, Rosemary Whisenton, who has worked and coached at Oakland Tech for more than 40 years; football coach and mentor Kevin Parker; James and Jazmine Dailey of Halftime Sportsbar; Lukas Brekke-Miesner of Oakland Kids First; educator and writer Leon Sykes; and artist and promoter Ebhodaghe “Daghe” Esoimeme.