Andrew Wynn one of Crenshaw’s few, proud to win City Section Division III crown

The Crenshaw football team celebrates after it beat Wilson 49-14 for the City Section Division III championship Friday.
(Luca Evans / Los Angeles Times)

He’d run over from his bus stop, a young Andrew Wynn trying to peer in from outside the Crenshaw gate, watching the Crenshaw Rams youth league take the field for practice.

He and his family had no money to spend on Pop Warner. But he had time. And so the 11-year-old would come every day for two weeks — walking around the perimeter of the field, hoping to catch a glimpse. Eventually, a Rams coach came up to him.

“You want to play?” Wynn remembered the coach asking.

“Yeah,” Wynn responded.

“Do you have any money to play? Are you financially stable?” the coach asked.

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“No,” Wynn responded.

But the coaches nonetheless told him to come around that gate, signed him up, trotted him out with the rest of the kids and sponsored his youth football costs.

“That was the one chance I needed,” Wynn, now a senior do-everything athlete on Crenshaw football, said.

On Friday, he had his day for the Cougars, scoring two touchdowns and running free as the Cougars won a City Section Division III title over Wilson 49-14. They played with just 23 active players, a program crippled by COVID-19 and declining enrollment nonetheless standing pat and emerging with its sixth City Section championship.

“We’ve been counted out a lot of times this year … everybody didn’t think we would do it,” Wynn said of a Cougars team that started the season 2-7. “But we came out strong, and stuck together.”

In the summer, head coach Robert Garrett called Crenshaw “half-empty,” a legendary landmark of Los Angeles culture now with just 500 students. For the last few years, he and coaches have fought to keep the football program alive, embarking on a particularly trying journey in 2022 as numbers dwindled from 30-plus to start the season.

“It’s us against the world,” Garrett said pregame.

Two weeks ago, Wynn said, his grandfather — akin to a second father, Wynn described, who watched over him and his mother — was admitted to the hospital. As soon as he was about to step on the bus to Friday’s site at Birmingham High, Wynn said, he got a call: his grandfather had died.

Senior Andrew Wynn after Crenshaw won the City Section Division III championship.
(Luca Evans / Los Angeles Times)

It hurt, Wynn said, softly. It hurt bad.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Wynn said. “But I got it. I got it for him.”

After Crenshaw opened a huge lead over Wilson with three first-quarter scores, including a blocked-punt return for a touchdown on Wilson’s first drive, Wynn got going in the second quarter with a 20-yard run. Towards the end of the half, he pushed the Rams’ lead to 34-7 with a 14-yard touchdown run, then added a touchdown catch in the third quarter.

He used to walk to practice, his youth coaches remembered, surprised at how far he’d trek just to play with the Rams. And Wynn knew nothing about football at first. But he was fast, Rams coach Devon Douglas recalled.

And now, the kid outside the gate can walk home a champion.