South Hills’ Jordan Canada still a part of the team, even though he can’t play; Receiver Ify Umodu injured, questionable for Friday

Above: Huskies receiver Ify Umodo has a high ankle sprain and might not play Friday.

By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
More than a month has passed since South Hills High School running back Jordan Canada was denied a state appeal to become eligible for the Huskies after transferring from Duarte High school. Even though Duarte officials claimed Canada’s transfer was for “athletically motivated,” reasons, which essentially robbed him of his senior season, Canada has remained with the team, hoping to stay active enough to earn a college scholarship, and helping the teammates he never had a chance to play for continue its pursuit of a CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division title. To continue, click thread

No. 2 South Hills (10-2) will face Diamond Ranch (6-6) in the Southeast Division semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday, and once again, Canada will be rooting them on from the sidelines after participating in every practice.

“He’s not playing, but he’s still a factor,” South Hills coach Steve Bogan said. “That’s inspiring for his teammates, to know that a guy who isn’t going to play has been in your corner the whole season.”

Bogan said what Canada lost in not playing he gained through adversity.

“It says a lot about who he is,” Bogan said. “What you do when things aren’t going well in your life is who you’re as a person. He’s enjoying life in a difficult situation, and really, he’s just one of the most remarkable kids I have ever been around.”

Bogan probably wishes he had Canada this week, because standout wide receiver Ify Umodu suffered a high ankle sprain in the Huskies’ 33-23 quarterfinal victory over Crescenta Valley.

Umodu is using crutches this week as a precaution, and will try and practice today. He is a game-time decision.

The Huskies already are dealing with quarterback Jacob Shirley’s knee sprain. Shirley missed their first-round game against Bonita, but played last week, though he isn’t able to get out of the pocket and run like he normally does.

Diamond Ranch defeated South Hills 15-12 in overtime last year against a banged-up Huskies team, and one that also was without Alex Barrios, the San Antonio League defensive player of the year because he was serving a one-game suspension for being kicked out the previous game.

If it’s a case of deja vu, the Huskies just have to play through it.

“We’re not in great shape injury-wise, but it is what it is, everyone has injuries this time of the year, you just have to deal with it the best you can,” Bogan said.

While Umodu is the vertical threat that gives defenses match-up problems, if Shirley is not mobile enough to make plays with his feet, it changes the game-plan significantly.

“We have a better shot with Jake then without Jake,” Bogan said. “(Because of his injuries), we can’t do the zone reads and get him running around like we would like. But even Jake at 80 percent (healthy) is still our best option.”

Although Diamond Ranch is a .500 team, Bogan knows they’re playing one of the best teams in the division, and definitely one of hottest, winners of five straight.

The Panthers started slow last year and made a similar run to the championship game. Once again, the slow start can be attributed to their schedule, having lost to Bishop Amat, Colony, Elsinore, Glendora, Chino Hills, and of course Charter Oak in the Miramonte League.

“Anyone playing right now is a damn good football team, if you’re looking past someone, you’re dumber than dirt,” Bogan said. “I was looking at how the (selections) for the Bowl games are decided. You have to have seven wins to be considered, but what if most of your wins come playing little sisters of the blind? Who you play and how you compete is huge, people forget that.” (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2161

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