East Oakland has a reputation as one of America’s most violent neighborhoods. It’s where a great deal of the city’s murders happen every year, a trend that’s earned it the dubious name the “Kill Zone.” Castlemont high school is in this area. It has a proud football tradition that’s taken a big hit in recent years due to the violence that’s kept many of the neighborhood’s kids from enrolling.

But Grit Media caught up with Ed Washington, a proud Castlemont alumn who’s trying to rebuild the program and, along with it, students’ committment to their community. Already, Washington’s team is meeting some success: After going winless over the past three season, the team’s overall record currently stands at 2-5.