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Hard work pays off for Wolfpack football in 21-13 win

Claremont showed its Pack Pride on Friday, September 5, making their first win at their second non-season game against the Salesian Mustangs with a score of 21-13.

Despite their loss on the first game against the El Rancho Dons, the Wolfpack defeated the Mustangs, who were the CIF champions last year and were nominated as one of the top 15 football teams in California.

The Pack devoted to extra practices and improved with hard work to bring home a spectacular win, Head Coach Mike Collins explained.

“It was a fantastic game,” Coach Collins said. “Our team played awesome on defense. The Mustangs were so fast and athletic we couldn’t throw the ball, so we stuck to the ground game. We kept fighting back hard and I’m just really thankful that the team’s hard work paid off.”

The Pack started with a kickoff to the Mustangs. The game progressed quite slowly as it seemed that the skills of each team were even. Both teams struggled to get to the ends of the field for a score, but then came a change of pace when the Pack surged up to score the first touchdown through running back Duy Tran-Sampson with 9 minutes and 5 seconds left in the third quarter. The ecstatic crowd cheered and applauded for the team and also for Tran-Sampson, who had consistently made yard gains for the team.

“I feel tired and I’m all beat up,” Tran-Sampson said. “But it was worth it to hear everyone cheer. We played hard, we stopped their run plays, and we brought it to them.”

The Mustangs were now desperate to catch up. With 5 minutes into the third quarter, the opposing team quickened their gameplay with the hope of outrunning Claremont. Their efforts were cut short when middle linebacker James Stephens almost immediately tackled the ball carrier.

The Mustangs then fumbled the ball on a punt to the one yard line for a Wolfpack to take over. The clock was at 6 minutes and 35 seconds. The Pack saw their opportunity—and took it—when quarterback Ryan O’Connor made a sneak to score a touchdown advancing the score to 14-0.

“I tried to be as calm and composed as I could during the game,” O’Connor said. “We knew that we were fighting a tough opponent, but we had the determination that it wasn’t going to stop us from playing well.”

The Wolfpack and the Mustangs had strong defensive plays, challenging O’Connor to make long passes to his receivers. The Mustangs pushed even harder against Claremont, even causing an injury to player Cameron Gray after a hard tackle.

Regardless, the Pack tried to keep the pressure from the Mustangs under control, but was unsuccessful when Mustang’s running back Kyahva Tezino scored a touchdown with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

With a minute and 5 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Jeremy Kelley scored another touchdown for the Mustangs putting the score at 14-13. CHS tight end Parker Bowman made a huge block of an extra point kicked by Heriberto Maldonado of the Mustangs and successfully stopped the Mustangs from tying the game.

At this moment, the crowd could not sit any longer. Yells of encouragement and cheers from the “Claremont Crazies” got the Pack fighting harder. From the 11-yard line to goal for the Mustangs, the Pack intensified their plays even further.

Tran-Sampson and Gray received handoff passes from O’Connor and made a total of 70-yard gains for Claremont, who were inching closer to the goal line.

With just 49.8 seconds left in the game and O’Connor at the 20 yard line, a handoff pass was made to Tran-Sampson who then rushed his way for the touchdown claiming the win for the Claremont Wolfpack. The final score was 21-13.

The Pack has shown what “hard work pays off” means after their victorious win. At their next game, Claremont will clash with the Vikings at Mountain View High School on Friday, September 12 at 7 p.m.

—Phumanee Nosavan

Phumanee Nosavan, a senior at CHS, is in her third year on the Wolfpacket staff. When not in classes, Phumanee works in the garden at school, plays water polo and enjoys spending time with her family. Her favorite hobbies, she notes, include “cooking, gardening, painting and studying the stars.”

[Editor’s note: The Claremont COURIER has gone into partnership with the Claremont Wolfpacket staff. This season, we will utilize the skills of our budding reporters to cover football at Clarmont High School. —KD]

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