Debut of T.A. Cunningham has finally arrived

T.A. Cunningham, 99, far left, will finally be suited up and running onto the field and into the lineup after being cleared to play. Photo by Marja Bene

The highly anticipated debut of T.A. Cunningham has finally arrived, as he will make his first appearance this season after being released by CIF-SS. Alex Cunningham, also known as “T.A.” is a 6’6” 268-pound junior defensive end at Los Alamitos High School that moved to California this summer under some very complicated circumstances. He played his freshman and sophomore years at John’s Creek High School in a suburb located northeast of Atlanta, Georgia. He was so dominant he has already accumulated more than 50 scholarship offers from schools such as Florida State, Alabama, Georgia, and USC.

After relocating to California, Cunningham completed his transfer paperwork to attend Los Alamitos High School and play football. However, CIF bylaw 207(B)(5)b(ix) states: “The Sit Out Period will be 50% of the total number of days in that particular season of sport. The number of days in a season is determined by each Section in accordance with their first allowable competition date through the final regular season competition date. If the total number of days in a season is an odd number, then the Sit Out Period would be 50% plus one additional day.”

Given the CIF regulation, Cunningham applied for a hardship waiver to enable him to play immediately. However, CIF denied Cunningham’s request and stated he could play junior varsity football in 2022, but would not be cleared to play varsity football until 2023.

Cunningham retained the services of litigation attorney Michael Caspino, who coincidently was the captain of his college football team. Caspino filed for an injunction against CIF-SS and CIF State to declare Cunningham immediately eligible. Judge Layne Melzer denied the request and stated that CIF had until Sept. 27 to complete their investigation. 

On Sept. 26 Cunningham was notified that he was cleared to play, making him eligible for the Griffin’s next game. Cunningham released a statement via social media, “THEY CLEARED 99!!!” #99 being Cunningham’s jersey number.

While waiting for CIF-SS to complete their investigation, Cunningham has done everything that could have been expected of him.

He has assimilated to a new school, he attends class, he attends practice, and he supports his teammates during games. He is their biggest fan running up and down the sidelines and doing his part to cheer them on.

The Los Alamitos Griffins will be at Newport Harbor High School on Friday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. if you would like to see Cunningham play for yourself.