LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles City Council recognized Wednesday the Nathaniel Narbonne High School football team after the powerhouse program won its second state championship in three years.
The governing body of the nation’s second-largest city gave the scholar-athletes, coaches and administrators in council chambers a plaque. Councilman Joe Buscaino, who represents the port area where the high school is located, said of the team known as the Gauchos and its achievements, “Congratuations! We love you."
Many of the scholar-athletes had never been inside of the Los Angeles City Hall--with its square columns and pyramid-shaped roof, the building stood until the 1960s as the city’s tallest structure. The scholar-athletes stood on the famous steps featured in television shows like “Perry Mason” and “Adam-12”, as well as movies like the “Adventures of Superman” and “L.A. Confidential”, with U.S. flags overhead while taking photographs.
The memories will last a lifetime for the Narbonne crew. “We had an opportunity to recognize their incredible victory but also to recognize that these young men not only taught us the importance of faith, of family, of sportsmanship and character on the field, but off the field as well,” Buscaino said after the ceremony ended, still clutching the white football helmet the players’ signed in gold ink and gave him.
Buscaino added, “These are young men that Narbonne High School really developed, and showed the importance of having high moral character both on and off the field.”
Such traits showed in the title game in December, when trailing Pittsburg 21-0 in the first half, Narbonne fought back to beat the Bay Area team 28-21 on the road. The victory marked only the second time in L.A. Unfied’s history, lasting more than a century, that one of its schools won a state championship in football. The Gauchos, emerging twice victorious with the state’s biggest prize, remains the only District school to achieve the feat.
"I want to again congratulate the Narbonne Football team for another amazing season,” said Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic, whose district includes the school. His representative, John Larson, gave the team a resolution signed by the L.A. Unified school board. “This amazing group of student athletes, led by one of the finest high school coaching staffs in the nation, have yet again made their city and their District proud."
Today’s recognition came about a month after the L.A. Unified school board honored the team during its regular session in January. Said Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian, “These L.A. Unified student-athletes achieved in the classroom and on the football field, showing how well they compete and demonstrating what they have learned in our District. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
So far, eight scholar-athletes have been chosen for full scholarships, mostly by large schools playing in the Pacific 12 conference, including USC and Oregon State. But amid the triumph, the team also has endured agony. Twice in the past year, two players have lost a parent. Twice, the teammates have helped each other overcome such circumstances, making their achievements all the sweeter.
Said Christopher Downing, superintendent, Local District South, “Narbonne represents the excellence of the Los Angeles Unified School District. These scholar-athletes are exemplary in their preparation for the games, in their execution during the games and in their citizenship, both on and off the field.”
Head coach Manuel Douglas, who has coached at the school for the past 15 seasons, said he appreciated the efforts from many to recognize the team’s accomplishments, which include winning nine of the past 10 City Section championships, and their fourth in a row.
Of today’s celebration, he said of the council, “It’s just an honor that they take the time out of their busy schedules to acknowledge these kids. This is one more opportunity for them to experience something that most people don’t get a chance to do. It’s a privilege for us, and I appreciate that they do that for us.”
The team made a lasting impression. In high school sports, or teams at any level, it is rare, if not unusual for them to be lauded not only for victory but for character. Across the board, the team accomplished both, achieving at the highest-levels.
“I am extremely proud of the members of the Narbonne High School football team,” said Narbonne Principal Gerald Kobata. “They are truly scholar-athletes, and the vast majority of them will be going to college. What makes these young men stand out is their fine character and outstanding citizenship.”
Photos by Mayra Arriaga
Contact: Daryl Strickland (213) 241-6766