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Wolfpack trounces Damien, sports roundup

If one could rewrite the rules of football and make every play a fourth down, the Claremont High School football team would be the greatest prep squad out there. Of course, one might also wonder why they don’t play the first three downs as beautifully as they do the last.

Still, there is no arguing with the results, and the Pack had one amazingly great game Friday night at CHS, stomping Damien 42-17 in what must be the most lopsided Claremont victory in a decades-long rivalry. The Pack outscored the Spartans in the first three quarters, including the second when they got three touchdowns. As a result, the Wolfpack is now 4-0 and their state ranking shot up by 48 places to 139.

The Pack wasted no time setting the momentum with a series of running plays for small gains that nonetheless got them within striking distance of the goal line. From there, senior Markelle Davis and the CHS offensive line shoved their way into the end zone for the Pack’s first touchdown.

The two teams traded possession for the rest of the first quarter until a Damien punt took a favorable Claremont roll and the Pack took over at their own 43-yard line.

In three running plays Claremont only gained eight yards setting up fourth and two from midfield. They appeared to be lining up for an attempt to muscle their way to a first down when coach Coco Jardin called a time out.

Back on the field quarterback senior Raine Pohaku Kaheaku-Paiva handed off to junior Duy Tran-Sampson, who found a hole on the right side, running all the way to the end zone and the Pack’s second touchdown.

On their next possession, Damien answered with a flawless pass play from their quarterback, sophomore Warren Bryan, who found junior Spencer Smith up the middle, making it a 14-7 game.

However, another last-chance miracle play was right around the corner.

Facing fourth and long, Coach Jardin substituted his regular kicker, Jacob Olesniewicz, with Kaheaku-Paiva for the punt attempt. This should have been a big red flag for the Damien defense. However, they were caught completely off guard, and Kaheaku-Paiva dodged a half-hearted tackle attempt to run 25 yards for the first down. A few plays later and Kaheaku-Paiva scored on a short run up the middle.

Facing a rout, Damien came back with an aggressive passing game only to be intercepted by Brycen Bradfield, who successfully avoided several tackles to score Claremont’s third touchdown of the quarter.

The Wolfpack’s defense also had a great night, and Damien’s final possession of the first half provided the greatest evidence.

After Claremont’s Ben Lynch fumbled, Damien took over on the Pack’s 20-yard line giving the Spartans a big chance to get back in the game. Damien pushed it all the way to the one-yard line, but the Pack fought back. With a big sack on Bryan and an incomplete pass Damien was forced to settle for a field goal.

After the halftime break, Claremont had yet another fourth-down gambit.

Facing third and 17, Kaheaku-Paiva completed a 48-yard pass to Matt Banfield, who pushed his way to the seven-yard line. The Pack then made three attempts to score by pushing up the middle, bringing up fourth and two. Taking the snap Kaheaku-Paiva faked a handoff, then made a pirouette-like move and strolled into the end zone as Damien just watched.

Bryan made an attempt to keep the Spartans in the game early in the fourth quarter, breaking a tackle and scoring Damien’s last touchdown.

But the Pack was not done. Faced with, what else, fourth and 10, Kaheaku-Paiva passed to Lynch for 34 yards, advancing to the Spartan’s 8-yard line. With 7:44 left to play, Tran-Sampson walked it in on the next play.

Asked about the aggressive fourth down plays, Coach Jarin said it was “pretty gutsy” but also praised his players.

“We have a quarterback who can read a few things, and if something presented itself we took the opportunity. He had a great game,” Coach Jarin said. “Our kids really played hard all week. We knew Damien was going to be our toughest foe, something we can engage in. I’m really excited about how it turned out tonight.”

While celebrating with his team, Davis, who had a big game on offense as well as a couple of key sacks, said about the victory, “it feels great—there’s no better feeling.”

Kaheaku-Paiva had six completions from 10 attempts for 141 yards total passing. He also had four carries for 35 yards plus two rushing touchdowns.

Tran-Sampson led the Pack in rushing with 25 carries for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Davis also had a good night with 10 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown.

The team did not provide defensive stats, however, the Pack’s standout middle linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu played a key role in shutting down the Spartan attack.

Claremont returns this Friday with another home non-conference game against Bell Gardens.

 

CHS WEEKLY ROUNDUP

CROSS COUNTRY

Junior Annie Boos led a very impressive team performance for the Wolfpack as the girls team won the title at the Fort Steilacoom Invitational in Washington state on Saturday, according to PrepCalTrack.

Similar to their overwhelming performance in the first Palomares League meet last week, the team placed 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, l4 and l6 to win by a score of 25 to l00 over local favorite Tahoma High School.

The boys team placed second to nationally-ranked Tahoma, 48-68, with junior Ryan Renken taking sixth in the race.

Meanwhile the girls junior varsity team took first place in the varsity race at the 35th annual Woodbridge Cross-Country Classic held over the weekend at Orange County Great Park.

BOYS WATER POLO

The Claremont High School boys water polo team played in the very competitive Santa Barbara tournament recently. The boys lost to Agoura, Murrieta Valley and Los Osos. However, they defeated Serviette and Palo Alto’s Gunn.

Last week, the Pack played Damien at Pomona-Pitzer College in front of the largest crowd the team has ever had. “We were ahead the whole game and then lost by one in the last eight seconds. It was a great game and Damien is a good team,” said Coach Kristin Rodriguez.

On Saturday, the team also participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness to support a player’s parent as well as CHS receptionist Arcie Hadfield. Last year, the team started selling pink shirts to raise funds for breast cancer research and will continue this year.

Thursday the Pack took on La Serna. “We are currently ranked #1 in our division and La Serna is ranked #2 so it should be a good game, ” said Coach Rodriguez.

GIRLS TENNIS

Anchored by a sweep in doubles play, the Claremont High School girls tennis team won their league opener against Bonita, 12-6, on Tuesday.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com

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