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Vlad Dzhabiyev carries the ball against Sunny Hills on Nov. 13. Photo: Eric Heinz
Vlad Dzhabiyev carries the ball against Sunny Hills on Nov. 13. Photo: Eric Heinz

By Steve Breazeale

The wing-t offense is not something one sees very often in the south Orange County high school football landscape. Sunny Hills brought the tricky run-oriented offense with them to Thalassa Stadium on Nov. 13 for a CIF-SS Southwest Division first round tilt against San Clemente, but it did not fool the Tritons.

San Clemente shut out the Lancers in a dominating 52-0 playoff-opening victory and punched their ticket into the second round.

San Clemente will travel to play Sonora on Nov. 20 at La Habra High School.

Sunny Hills’ most productive drive of the game came on their first offensive series. Three different backs carried the ball downfield to the Tritons’ 32-yard line early in the first quarter and looked to be in a rhythm until San Clemente senior safety Andrew Frohner intercepted an errant pass by the Lancers quarterback Malcolm Dixon.

Frohner’s interception return went for 70 yards and two plays later, San Clemente quarterback Jack Sears hit tight end Cole Fotheringham for a four-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead.

The Triton defense, which recorded its first shutout of the season, made sure the Lancers would not threaten the rest of the way. Sunny Hills could only scrape together 231 total yards of offense, all of which came on the ground.

“We had to put in a new defensive front this week to prepare for their wing-t, but I think we handled it well,” Frohner said. “It took us a little while to get going but once we started getting on top of blocks and getting over runners it was really good.”

Sunny Hills continued to run the ball, eating up a lot of the clock while keeping the Triton offense on the sidelines. But that did not matter much. San Clemente scored every time they had possession and took a 31-0 lead into the half.

Sears completed 15 of 19 passes for 230 yards and four touchdowns. Fotheringham had a game-high six catches for 53 yards and two scores. Fotheringham’s second touchdown was set up by another Frohner interception in the third quarter, which he returned 46 yards deep into Lancers territory.

Sears was on the same page with senior receiver Liam Eldridge, who caught four balls for 116 yards and a touchdown. The two linked up for a 48-yard catch and run touchdown pass early in the third quarter which made it 38-0.

San Clemente’s next opponent, Sonora, defeated Tustin in the first round.


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