Grant High School Football Coach Leads Team Through Tragedy

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SACRAMENTO --

As of Wednesday evening, police in Sacramento were still no closer to finding the person, or persons, responsible for Friday night's shooting in Del Paso Heights that left one Grant High School varsity football player dead, and another wounded.

Over the years, there have been plenty of ups and downs surrounding the Grant community. But through it all there has been one constant.

Head coach Mike Alberghini has spent the last 47 years of his life teaching and coaching at Grant. His very presence in the tight-knit Del Paso Heights community is meaningful to so many.

"We've lost some people," the coach said. "They're all terribly disappointing. We've lost so many people in this community over the years over this stuff. It's never easy, and every fresh one it just takes a while to digest."

Pacer pride has never been put to the test like this though. The team is still feeling the tragic loss of 17-year-old J.J. Clavo, but getting back to football, and getting ready for Saturday's second round playoff game against Granite Bay, is the way these kids cope.

"It's still tough. It's good to have the kids here, good to have gone through the weekend and survived everything," Alberghini said. "You know, not having J.J. still hurts a lot, and it hurts for not having what we want for his family."

Coach Al, as he's known in this part of town, is seen as a leader in Del Paso Heights. His messages are taken to heart, and his word is well respected.

"He gives us rides when we need it, he feeds us when we don't have it," explained senior Linebacker David Moala. "He's just there for us..it's family. That's one thing that runs through Grant is family. He's like another father to us."

Running back DeShawn Collins shared his view of Alberghini.

"Al's a legend, I ain't even going to lie to you man. It's an honor for us to be playing for him considering what he's done for this school and this community. Al is Del Paso Heights man."

Alberghini doesn't teach in a classroom anymore, but he is at Grant every day. From early until late. On weekends. He's there to take care of the kids and families of a community that has given him so much over the years.

"Life will go on, we will all grow to never understand why it happened but we'll all learn from it..and maybe it will make us smarter and better in what we do."