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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Panthers football honors fallen player and dominates in a 50-7 win against Chabot

The McAllister family, brothers (from left) Jack and Gavin, and parents Mary and Lloyd, sit at a memorial for offensive tackle Justin McAllister, who passed away earlier that week. The memorial was organized by City College Panthers at Hughes Stadium before the game on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. Photo credit: Manuel Figueroa / [email protected]

On Saturday, Sept. 16, the City College Panthers played their first home game at Hughes Stadium since losing teammate Justin McAllister but persevered with a 50-7 win against the Chabot College Gladiators.

Teammates, coaches and family gathered on the side of the field before the game to commemorate McAllister, who died Monday, Sept. 11 after collapsing following practice. As “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor boomed over the loudspeaker, the atmosphere was heavy. 

McAllister’s presence was everywhere. His number, 68, and the McAllister name was printed onto black T-shirts sported by coaches and staff, the same number sealed on each teammate’s helmet alongside their own. 

In the presence of fans alongside players from McAllister’s former high school football team, Clarksburg’s Delta High, last Saturday’s game began with a ceremony. Players huddled with Panthers’ Head Coach Dannie Walker to take a knee in remembrance of McAllister. 

City College Panthers defensive back David Wood has a moment of silence for teammate Justin McAllister before the game at Hughes Stadium Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. Photo credit: Manuel Figueroa / [email protected]

A moment of silence followed as the music faded out, and the booming voice of coach Walker permeated the field. 

“The Justin I know was always smiling. I only had the opportunity to know him shortly, but it felt like an eternity,” Walker said.

When the Panthers reentered the field to begin the game, hustling under supportive chants from the crowd, a change in energy took place. The game started out strong for City College and it was apparent the Panthers wouldn’t let the circumstances weigh them down. 

Panthers’ wide receiver Isaiah Tongson scored the first touchdown of the day and the crowd roared with an urgency that flowed through players. They carried this momentum for the rest of the game.

“They’re on fire right now!,” one attendee shouted after Panthers’ wide receiver Anthony Wiley leapt over a group of players and into the end zone to score another touchdown in the first quarter.

City College Panthers wide receiver Anthony Wiley jumps into the end zone for a touchdown during the first quarter at Hughes Stadium Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. Photo credit: Manuel Figueroa / [email protected]

The scoreboard glowed as the Panthers’ points jumped higher and higher, inching to match the No. 68 that beamed in between both scores. “Get that ball back, we want 68 points today!,” shouted Linda White from the sidelines after the team scored their fifth touchdown to bring their lead to 34-0. 

White is the grandmother of Panthers linebacker Jabarri Pharms and great aunt of defensive back Asar Moore. Considering them both grandchildren and being a part of a big family herself, White recognized the importance of the team as one big family, and the incredible loss and impact McAllister had on that family.

“This game right here means a lot to me,” she said, “You leave everything on the field.” 

The game ended with an outstanding victory of 50-7, a result as exciting as it was heavy. In their moment of triumph, Panthers teammates ran to embrace one another in a heart-felt tackle.

City College Panthers tight ends Jackie Johnson and Jacob Stewart celebrate after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter at Hughes Stadium Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. Photo credit: Manuel Figueroa / [email protected]

Attendees who cheered for the Panthers alongside the McAllister family rose in anticipation, and Panthers teammates broke away to meet them, where they exchanged words of support as well as silent embraces.

White and many other attendees supporting the Panthers noticed a change in the team’s gameplay, which she believes fully stems from the impact of McAllister’s loss. Planting a fist to her heart, she expressed, “It’s because they feel it, they really do. And this is their way of releasing it. So they’re putting it all back on the field.”

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Emma Richman
Emma Richman, Editor in Chief
Emma is passionate about writing in multiple disciplines, such as professional and creative. Emma is primarily interested in writing about news that directly affects Sacramento and its citizens during her time on the Express.
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