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By Zach Cavanagh

Joe Wood. Photo: San Clemente Athletics

San Clemente assistant football coach Joe Wood died Friday, Feb. 12, at Mission Hospital after a month-long battle with coronavirus. He was 71.

Wood is survived by his wife Cheryl and six daughters.

A GoFundMe page had been set up to help Wood’s family deal with mounting medical expenses. The page is still open for contributions at

There will be a candlelight vigil tonight (Saturday, Feb. 13) at 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Shops at Mission Viejo just below Mission Hospital.

Wood coached in the Capistrano Unified School District for 34 years with stints at Capistrano Valley High School, Aliso Niguel High School and the last 16 years at San Clemente High School.

“Joe Wood was a loving coach who cared for his players on and off the field,” San Clemente head football coach Jaime Ortiz said in a letter. “Coach Wood made it a point to develop a relationship with all of his players and continue those relationships past their high school years.

“He cared for his players as if they were his own sons, and it was evident by the way they played for Coach Wood.”

Wood, most recently a running backs coach for the Tritons, had been at San Clemente since 2005 and contributed to three league championships and the Tritons’ run their first CIF-SS and State championships in 2016.

Wood was also notably the head coach of Aliso Niguel’s first senior class in 1996 that went undefeated (14-0) and won a CIF-SS title. Wood was named “Coach of the Year” by many outlets that season.

“We are devastated by his passing,” Ortiz wrote, “and his presence will truly be missed by the entire football community and those who knew him.”

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comments (1)

  • Here we are living in one of the affluant cities in one of the most wealthy counties of the most prosperous states in the richest country in the world reading about how a 72 year old employed man’s family has to set up a Go fund me account to help pay his medical bills. If this doesn’t convince you that our for profit healthcare system needs to be replaced with a not for profit healthcare system? You are either an idiot or a hopelessly brainwashed victim of right wing Oligarch propaganda… And I would also point out that corperate Democrats like Biden and Pelosi are no better. Past time the Voters in the USA pull their heads out of their asses and embrace politictions that are truly progressive like Bernie Sanders and AOC.

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