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By Zach Cavanagh
At an Orange County public school football media day before the start of this twice-delayed football season, San Clemente senior running back James Bohls said he was dedicating the season to the Tritons’ late running backs coach Joe Wood.
Wood died in February after a battle with COVID-19 and just days before California gave the green light for its high school football teams to return to competition. Wood was a hero to the Arizona-bound running back, Bohls said at media day.
Bohls has been arguably San Clemente’s most impactful player through three games, and the senior turned in his most inspired performance yet on Friday, April 2.
Bohls ran for a career-high 177 yards and tied career highs with three touchdowns and 16 carries as the Tritons dominated both sides of the ball to defeat San Juan Hills, 35-7, in both teams’ South Coast League opener in San Juan Capistrano.
Senior running back Ashton Whitsett had eight carries for 52 yards and a touchdown. Junior quarterback Lachlan van Rosmalen completed 15 of 21 passes for 163 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown pass to senior Bentley Redden. Redden caught four passes for 63 yards, and senior Anthony Hall caught five passes for 65 yards.
San Clemente (3-0, 1-0) fed Bohls early with 11 carries on the Tritons’ first 20 plays, as San Clemente scored on van Rosmalen’s TD pass to the BYU-bound Redden and Bohls scored on a 9-yard run. San Clemente went up, 21-0, over San Juan Hills (2-1, 0-1) going into halftime on a deft 19-yard TD run by Bohls.
Defensively, San Clemente’s job was made easier by no fault of San Juan Hills. The Stallions were without their top two receivers going into the game, so San Juan Hills committed to the run game. Senior Brayden Burnes carried the ball 16 times for only 55 yards in the first half, and San Juan Hills threw the ball only three times in the first half, with no completions.
San Clemente’s defensive front was stout throughout the night with a star performance from junior Kanious Vaughn, who picked up 3 ½ of San Clemente’s six sacks.
Whitsett scored on a 14-yard run in the third quarter, and San Clemente was in control, 28-0.
San Juan Hills showed life in the fourth quarter with a 13-play drive for a touchdown pass and a recovery of the ensuing onside kick. However, Vaughn came up with a sack on fourth down to give San Clemente the ball back, and Bohls iced the game by getting loose on a 45-yard TD run.
San Clemente next plays at Tesoro on Friday, April 9, before hosting Mission Viejo in the season finale on April 16. Tesoro is 2-1, with wins over Aliso Niguel and Trabuco Hills before a league-opening loss to Mission Viejo, 44-13.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.