Playing for J.J.: Grant Pacers Return to Field After Tragedy

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SACRAMENTO--

Monday night Grant Union High's football team finally got to take the field for their playoff game, but had to do it without two of their players.

The game against Beyer High School in Modesto was canceled last Friday when a car of five Grant players was hit with gun fire. Jaulon "J.J." Clavo, 17, was killed in the shooting while another student struck, Malik Johnson, is expected to survive.

With every touchdown scored at Monday's game, Grant players gave a high five up to the heavens where they believe Clavo was smiling down.

"It was an emotional game for all of us, we came out here and we had to do what we had to do for J.J," team captain David Moala said.

In the first play of the game, just ten players took the field with a friend carrying J.J's jersey.

The following penalty flag was declined by opposing team Beyer.

J.J.'s mother, Nicole Clavo, said although he was not physically there, she knows her son was on the field.

"Oh, he's most definitely here in spirit, you see these young men? They're going to blow out this game," Clavo told FOX40.

In the end, the Grant High Pacers won in a 35-0 shutout victory.

"The kids played with a lot of heart, with a lot of intent. You can't ask much more of people, so I'm very proud of our kids," Grant's head coach Mike Alberghini said.

Still, Alberghini said that missing number 5 jersey was a challenge for everyone one his team, players and coaches alike.

"He's well missed, trust me. You never know when you're not going to have that person in your life," Alberghini said.

Meanwhile the Sacramento Police Department said Monday it is still searching for whoever pulled the trigger.

But his mother is confident justice will be served.

"Someone will come forward. It was broad daylight and they took an innocent young man's life for what," Clavo told FOX40.

For now his fellow Pacers are determined to keep winning playoff games, hoping to bring home a title for J.J.

"J.J. going to be with us all through it man so we're going to be alright," Moala said.

Johnson, who family said was J.J.'s best friend, was hit in the arm by the gunfire but is expected to survive. Among the large crowd showing their support for Grant High Monday were dozens of other local high school football teams, including Jesuit and Rocklin High.