By Steve Breazeale
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Tritons Stifle Panthers in Season Opener
In a thoroughly dominant performance, the San Clemente football team breezed their way past visiting Jordan of Long Beach 59-6 in their non-league season opener on August 30.
The Tritons were in control from the opening whistle.
They scored on all five of their first-half possessions and kept the Panthers (0-1) off the field with a strong defensive showing. Jordan failed to earn a first down until the final minute of the first quarter. At the half, the Tritons (1-0) held a comfortable 38-0 lead.
While Jordan was struggling to find any sort of early rhythm, the Tritons were busy working their run game. In his first varsity game, sophomore running back Vlad Dzhabiyev showed why head coach Jaime Ortiz and staff gave him the starting job. Dzhabiyev carried the ball 11 times, rushing for 80 yards and three touchdowns, including two first-half scoring runs.
“Vlad had a huge game. He’s going to be a good player for these next three years,” junior quarterback Sam Darnold said.
With Dzhabiyev on the run, Darnold kept the Panthers defense honest, as he passed for 53 yards and a touchdown. He also showed off his dual-threat capability by running for 88 yards and another touchdown.
The defensive starters, who were on the field for essentially the entire first half, held Jordan to just three total yards of offense and forced two fumbles in the first 24 minutes of play.
Jordan attempted to run a zone option throughout the contest and the Tritons defensive line was able to sniff out the trickery and suppress any kind of forward momentum.
The Tritons capitalized on the Panther’s many mistakes, including a fumble at midfield which senior safety Collin Zines picked up and ran 20 yards for a touchdown to put things at 20-0 with three minutes to go in the first quarter.
Jordan would fumble again less than two minutes later, only this time it was San Clemente junior defensive lineman Chicho Rodriguez who recovered it.
The second half started with Dzhabiyev’s third and final touchdown, which made it 45-0. Minutes later, after being pinned down inside their own 10-yard line, the Panthers lost control of the ball in the end zone and senior defensive lineman Liam Buhl pounced on it for the score.
“We had a good flow. The kids did a good job executing the game plan,” Ortiz said. “We were able to control the ball on offense and not let them run their stuff … We played pretty well in regards to flying around and making plays. That’s probably the fastest we’ve looked in a while”
– San Clemente senior tight end Jason Wright caught three passes for 27 yards and a touchdown.
– Aside from his first-half fumble recovery, Chicho Rodriguez also tallied a sack late in the game.
– Jordan sophomore quarterback Elijah Thompson was replaced late in the game by junior DeOliver Walker, who provided an energetic boost. He broke off for a 48-yard rushing touchdown with the clock winding down to provide Jordan with their only score of the night.
The Tritons will now prep for a home game against Cabrillo on September 6. It will be the second time in as many weeks that the Tritons square off against a Long Beach area opponent from the Moore League.
Cabrillo should provide a tougher test for the Tritons as they return several impact starters, led by senior quarterback Kaelon Price and his dual threat abilities. Price threw for 199 yards and rushed for another 38, recording one touchdown both in the air and on the ground, in a 20-15 preseason loss to Norwalk on August 30.
Cabrillo has faced San Clemente in the preseason each of the last two years and the Tritons have won both games with relative ease.
Girls Tennis Breaks Into Action at CDM Tourney
The San Clemente girls tennis team started their 2013 season at the Corona Del Mar Doubles Tournament on September 3. Results were not available at press time.
Girls Volleyball Drops First Game Against El Toro
The Tritons could not match the firepower of the El Toro girls volleyball team in both squads’ season opener on September 3, as the Chargers cruised to a 25-20, 23-25, 25-17, 25-20 nonleague victory. El Toro (1-0) was led by Hannah Meager’s 16 kill effort.
Kristey Markles also contributed six kills and 14 digs while Sarah Paul had a team-high 38 assists for the visiting Chargers.
San Clemente (0-1) will now travel to play Chaparral in a nonleague match on September 5.
Tritons Boys Water Polo in CIF-SS Preseason Rankings
The San Clemente boys water polo season has yet to begin but the Tritons earned a mention in the CIF-SS Division 1 boys water polo preseason coaches rankings. San Clemente did not crack into the top-10 but were listed, along with Servite and Edison, as two of three teams that received consideration for the rankings. Mater Dei currently sits at the top of the Division 1 rankings.
The Tritons will begin their preseason with a home game against Huntington Beach on September 10.
Hawks on tap for First Girls Cross Country Dual Meet
The San Clemente girls cross country team will open their 2013 dual meet season with a matchup against Laguna Hills on September 14.
Tritons Girls Golf set to Tee Off Against League Rivals
In a look ahead to the South Coast League season, the San Clemente girls golf team will square off against Aliso Niguel and league rival Dana Hills in a preseason three-team tournament on September 10. The match is set to take place at 2 p.m. on September 10 at Aliso Niguel Country Club.