_________________________________________ CCPA

Socialize

Norwalk’s Penny Brothers Reunite, Meet On Gridiron in San Diego

Former Norwalk High standouts Elijhaa Penny #6 and Rashaad Penny #20 played against each other at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Photo by Armando Vargas.

Former Norwalk High standouts Elijhaa Penny #6 and Rashaad Penny #20 played against each other at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Photo by Armando Vargas.

Former Norwalk High standout Rashaad Penny waits for a punt from Idaho, the team his brother Elijhaa  plays on. The two played against each other at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Photo by Armando Vargas.

Former Norwalk High standout Rashaad Penny waits for a punt from Idaho, the team his brother Elijhaa plays on. The two played against each other at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Photo by Armando Vargas.

By Loren Kopff

It may have been homecoming for the San Diego State University football team but there was another homecoming of sorts at Qualcomm Stadium last Saturday afternoon. That’s when former Norwalk High standouts Elijhaa and Rashaad Penny met on the gridiron for the first time.
When the Penny brothers were younger, both of them would compete in front of the television, playing video football games like Madden and others. Then they took their talents to Norwalk where they dominated in the backfield and helped put the Lancers on the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section map. But the two never faced each other in full gear, nor did they even play together.
That all changed when Elijhaa Penny, a junior at the University of Idaho, and Rashaad Penny, a true freshman at SDSU faced each other in a nonconference game. SDSU won 35-21 but both brothers had an opportunity to get some action, more so for Elijhaa Penny.
“It was definitely a great feeling,” Elijhaa Penny said. “It was a feeling that was pretty much indescribable. It was awesome to see a bunch of friends and family and [former] coaches to see me play against my little brother. That was real fun, getting to watch him and to see what he can do.”
The two even got a chance to briefly talk to each other prior to the game as the elder caught his younger sibling leaving the locker room and the two walked in the field together for their respective team’s pregame activities. Then with 5:00 remaining in the first quarter, Elijhaa Penny scored on a two-yard run to tie the game at 7-7.
“It was really special,” Elijhaa Penny said. “I thought it was going to be the start of something spectacular; to shock everybody inside Qualcomm Stadium. We told them we were going to pull the upset, but obviously we didn’t. I thought [scoring the touchdown] was great.”
While he didn’t reach the end zone again, he did lead the Vandals with 90 yards on 22 carries and is the team’s second leading rusher with 458 yards. Rashaad Penny, who is the team’s leading kickoff returner with 263 yards, returned just one for 41 yards against Idaho. That came early in the second quarter after Idaho had tied the game at 14-14. Rashaad Penny was unavailable for comment per SDSU’s football program policy that does not allow true freshmen to speak to the media. Rashaad Penny entered the game fourth on the team in all-purpose yardage with 222.
“It was definitely something different but it was also so familiar at the same time,” Elijhaa Penny said of playing against his brother. “When we were at home and when we worked out together, we usually compete in everything. Even in the video games, we always competed growing up. After the game, I texted him and told him that I love him.”
Elijhaa Penny’s path to Idaho was a rocky one. First, he made a verbal commitment to attend the University of Washington. Then he signed with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas after rushing for 2,125 yards and scoring 23 touchdowns as a senior for Norwalk, numbers that garnered him the 2010 Los Cerritos Community News Offensive Player of the Year. But things didn’t work out academically and he ended up at College of the Sequoia’s where he rushed for only 102 yards on 22 carries and scored twice.
Elijhaa Penny came back to Southern California and played at Cerritos College where he had a banner 2012 season, gaining 1,338 yards on 199 carries and scoring 20 touchdowns, a single season record. He was named first team All-American and All-California Region as well as winning the Northern California Offensive Player of the Year award.
“That offseason, I actually worked the hardest that I’ve ever worked in my life,” Elijhaa Penny said. “I lost about 25 pounds and I got quicker on my feet. Coach [Frank] Mazzota and the staff at Cerritos…I can’t thank them enough for letting me be on the team and looking out for me.
“I was disappointed [at not going to UNLV] but at the same time, my dad was supportive of me when I didn’t make it academically,” he later added. “He just let me know that everything in life is lesson, so learn from it.”
Elijhaa Penny said he chose Idaho because he knew how head coach Paul Petrino was eager to win and because of his resume of coaching running backs. This is Petrino’s second season as the Idaho head coach but he was the school’s running back, receivers and special team’s coach from 1992-1994.
Elijhaa Penny’s best game thus far was against Ohio University on Sept. 20 when he racked up 131 all-purpose yards. He also scored three touchdowns at Georgia Southern on Oct. 11.
”It’s definitely been a grind,” Elijhaa Penny said. “It’s definitely been a great experience to travel all across the country; the majority of the south to places I’ve never really been before and to play in front of the different types of crowds of different areas.
“It took me awhile to get adjusted to the offense but now, I feel like I have everything down pat,” Elijhaa Penny continued. “I feel like I’ve been having great games the last couple of games. But just like any other thing you do, it just comes with patience. You just have to stay patient and wait your turn. And when you get that turn, just make sure you give it all you got.”
While the Vandals don’t figure to be playing in a bowl game as they are now 1-8, Rashaad Penny and the Aztecs improved to 5-4 and need one win in their final three games to become bowl eligible

Comments

comments

Powered by Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

avatar

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of