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Sulayman Adeoye gets his shot, but Notre Dame falls to Bishop Alemany

Sulayman Adeoye watches from the sideline as Notre Dame takes on Bishop Alemany.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Sulayman Adeoye, 6 feet 4 and 230 pounds, is a straight-A student and standout defensive end at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame headed to the Ivy League to play for Pennsylvania. He went to great lengths in the last year to finally have the opportunity to play in a football game on Friday night against Mission Hills Bishop Alemany.

Through the roller-coaster-like tribulations of the pandemic, Adeoye stayed ready. He built customized wooden squat stands and upholstered a bench with his own tools at home to help maintain his strength. He organized workouts with teammates. He never missed Zoom meetings with his coaches.

“Everything was in limbo,” he recalled. “The last game in 2019 could have been the last year of my high school career. We were all just hopeful we could play, and it’s finally happening.”

Sulayman Adeoye of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame built wooden racks.
Sulayman Adeoye of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame built wooden racks and upholstered a bench so he could lift weights at home during the pandemic.
(Sulayman Adeoye)

Notre Dame lost the ball on two fumbles and an interception in a 21-9 loss to the Warriors on Friday night in Mission Hills.

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Adeoye exudes an unusual aura of maturity for an 18-year-old. A big reason is that his parents, Yolanda and Sulaiman, are deaf and taught him sign language at an early age.

“It was an interesting part of my life, but I appreciate it,” he said. “They taught me when I was fresh out of the womb. I think I always knew they were different because I was out in public or translated for them in a grocery store. It’s always been part of my life. It made me mature faster.”

 Sherman Oaks Notre Dame defensive end Sulayman Adeoye tackles Bishop Alemany Floyd Chalk IV.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame defensive end Sulayman Adeoye tackles Bishop Alemany running back Floyd Chalk IV during first half action.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Said coach Joe McNab: “He’s super smart and an awesome kid. You can tell he’s a caring person. I think it’s pretty cool. He helps other kids. He’s a doer. He does what is necessary.”

His parents came to the United States from Nigeria and met at Gallaudet University, where students live and learn in American Sign Language. Both have master’s degrees and taught him the value of education.

“There’s a high standard,” Adeoye said. “Since I was in elementary school, my dad indoctrinated a hard worker within me. It’s hard for me not to try hard in school and not be satisfied. I’m grateful for that and appreciate he taught me the value of hard work.”

With A’s in advanced placement calculus, honors economics and honors philosophy, Adeoye should have no trouble navigating an Ivy League education. The next month is going to be about having fun with his teammates during a twice-delayed football season.

“I’m excited,” he said.

Looking for a ride home: The most impressive player on the field Friday was sophomore safety RJ Jones of Alemany. He returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown on Notre Dame’s opening possession and saved a touchdown with a pass deflection later in the game.

The big question afterward was whether his father, Ronald Sr., was going to give him a ride home. He’s an assistant coach at Notre Dame and watched the play with mixed emotions.

“If you’re going to throw it, don’t throw it to RJ because I’ll never be hearing the end of it,” his father said.

Jones is good friends with Notre Dame quarterback Javance Tupouata-Johnson, a former Alemany teammate who was at Jones’ house on Thursday.

“He said, ‘You’re not going to pick me,’” RJ said. “As I was running into the end zone, he was chasing me.”

Asked if his dad would be giving him a ride home, RJ said, “I’m pretty sure he is. If not, my mom.”

His father said, “I’m not mad. I’m a proud dad.”

Warriors receiver Ephesians Prysock caught touchdown passes of 22 and 43 yards. Quarterback Dylan Gebbia, playing in his first football game since the 2018 season after missing 2019 because of injury, completed 13 of 17 passes for 196 yards to help Alemany win the Mission League opener and spoil the head coaching debut of Notre Dame’s McNab, who spent 38 years as an assistant to Kevin Rooney. Notre Dame’s John Gayer, a defensive end, had three tackles for losses.

Notre Dame’s John Gayer, a defensive end, had three tackles for losses.


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