San Diego's Jayden Wickware tries to evade Clairemont's Jay Rensfield.
Charles James can tell you all about the last San Diego High football team to open a season 5-0. It was back in 1994, and James was a do-it-all freshman on the squad.
“That,” said James on Friday, “was a long time ago.”
At a school that first opened its doors in 1882 and boasts two mythical national championships, the Cavers are reliving their storied past. By thumping a beat-up
Junior quarterback Quinn O’Connor completed 9 of 21 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns. The Cavers rushed for 180 yards.
But the game belonged to the defense. Clairemont’s one touchdown came on a 66-yard halfback pass from Dylan Suitts to Donovan Fitzgerald. The Chieftains ran 35 other plays. They gained 56 yards. Clairemont punted 11 times.
“The defense is amazing,” said James. “Everyone flies to the ball.
In five games, San Diego has pitched two shutouts and permitted 21 points in the other three games combined.
Linebackers Raiden Hunter and Eric Orfanos, along with safety Chris Mantua spark the defense.
“It’s about not being scared,” Mantua said. “Zoning everything else out, playing the game.”
“Coach James, we wouldn’t be here without him. Straight up,” said Orfanos. “We feed off his ethics.”
It has been a difficult struggle for years at San Diego High. From 1999 through 2016, the Cavers played 18 seasons. In 12 of them, San Diego won two games or fewer.
Not this year. The Cavers could make a deep run in the Division IV playoffs.
“Our goal,” said Orfanos, “is the championships.”
Norcross is a freelance writer.