Even when they weren’t at their best, the San Clemente High School football team proved to have enough tricks in the bag to get past Capistrano Valley on the road on Oct. 9.
The Tritons offense sputtered at times but was able to lean on its defense in a 42-6 Sea View League victory.
The San Clemente (5-2, 1-0 league) defense shined against the Cougars (4-3, 0-1), recording five sacks, two fumbles and one interception.
Tritons senior defensive end Liam Buhl led the way, recording all five of the Tritons sacks and even forced a fumble.
The Tritons used three down linemen to their advantage, constantly bringing pressure from the edges and up the middle with their linebackers to confuse and disrupt the Cougar offense. San Clemente was able to limit Capo Valley’s running back Tyler Waggoner to just 64 yards and a touchdown. Waggoner entered the game averaging 114 yards per contest.
With San Clemente up 28-0 at the half, a big defensive play by seniors Tanner Wright and Andrew Frohner essentially ended any chance of a second-half comeback by the Cougars. Three minutes into the third quarter, Wright deflected a Kevin Brown pass and it fell into the waiting arms of Frohner, who took it to the Cougars 35-yard line. San Clemente sophomore Austin Whitsett would capitalize on the turnover five plays later, leaping over a pile of Cougars at the line of scrimmage for a 14-yard touchdown run and a 35-0 lead.
“Defensively I thought we played well. We swarmed the ball … We were able to put pressure on the quarterback. That was good to see,” San Clemente head coach Jaime Ortiz said.
San Clemente got off to a quick start and scored on a two-yard Brandon Reaves touchdown run on their first drive. Waggoner fumbled two plays later and San Clemente defensive end Isaac Rex recovered it.
Tritons junior quarterback Jack Sears hit senior receiver Liam Eldridge on a 50-yard scoring strike seconds later to take a 14-0 lead. Eldridge would catch another deep ball for a score in the third quarter, finishing the night with 97 receiving yards and a season-high two touchdowns.
San Clemente and the Cougars punted back and forth to each other for most of the first half and neither team was able to gain any momentum. But Reaves was able to change the tempo with just under seven minutes to go before the half. The standout junior returned a Cougar punt 66 yards and was brought down at the Capo Valley 13-yard line. Senior running back Vlad Dzhabiyev took it from there on the ensuing play and gave the Tritons a 21-0 lead.
The Tritons will be on a bye next week but return to league play against Laguna Hills on Oct. 23.