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CHS is overwhelmed by Bonita offense

Claremont’s varsity football team put in a lackluster performance against the visiting Bonita Bearcats, dropping its 4th game of the season 61-20. The Wolfpack team was confident following last week’s emphatic victory against Walnut, but let it all unravel late in the first quarter.

Penalties, crucial errors, and miscommunication were the order of the day for Claremont, who suffered a humbling loss to a better-prepared team on their home turf.

It became apparent the Bearcats’ physical style of play would win out in individual battles on the field. The Bearcats mixed a solid rush-attack with a number of slow developing screen passes. Bonita was able to catch Claremont defenders flat-footed by using fake handoffs, then throwing deep on several occasions. Coach Mike Collins called it a “terrible performance” and will prescribe a lot of changes in his defense before the next game.

The game began as a stalemate, with both teams’ defenses holding firm. Claremont lined up to punt, and the kick was skewed almost directly out of bounds. Bonita took over with great field position. With 2 minutes left in the first quarter, they drew first blood.

Bearcats’ tailback Reggie Turner Jr. scored the first of his 3 rushing touchdowns with a 1-yard burst up the middle.

Matters only became worse for the Wolfpack. On the ensuing kickoff, running back Cecil Fleming alertly jumped on the loose ball to save possession after 2 players collided while trying to field the kick. A couple of plays later, quarterback Craig Myers was intercepted. Bonita defender Dimas Diaz picked off a pass that bounced high in the air, sidestepped a number of half-hearted challenges, and raced into the end zone.

Claremont’s offense started to show signs of life once the score was 30-0. Myers began to connect with his receivers, hooking up with wideout Paul Manus for 20 yards. Claremont had to settle for a long field goal attempt, which missed left.

However, the versatile Manus picked off a pass during the next possession, giving Claremont a golden opportunity to get on the score sheet. Myers responded with a sharp throw over the middle to big slot receiver Washington Reeder.

Claremont came out for the 2nd half without much improvement, allowing a touchdown on the very first play of the third quarter. Bonita kick returner Mark Salce fielded the kickoff at his 2-yard line, eluded a tackle, and was not touched again. His 98-yard kickoff return seemed to put the game out of reach, and Claremont players’ heads noticeably dropped. Salce followed this by catching a 6-yard touchdown pass on Bonita’s next possession.

Although the game went mostly the Bearcats’ way, Claremont managed to show flashes of quality. Wolfpack returner Lane Giammalva gained momentum as the game progressed, taking one kickoff 50 yards before being brought down. Myers completed touchdown passes to receivers Baron Franklin and Nick Guzman to make the scoreline more respectable.

Coach Collins has a lot of work to do, but took heart in the fact that his offense was able to move the ball somewhat consistently. In the near 100-degree heat, the Wolfpack lost to a team whose three losses were all to teams ranked higher than both Bonita and Claremont.

The Wolfpack (1-3) next will travel to Irvine to take on the Northwood Timberwolves (0-3), who lost their previous game 34-26 to El Modena. The game is this Friday, September 21st at 7 pm.

—Chris Oakley

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