SAN CLEMENTE -- A year ago, Lakewood knocked San Clemente out of the Southern Section Pac-5 playoffs. On Friday, the Tritons returned the favor.
Behind a stout defense and Travis Wilson, who passed for four touchdowns, San Clemente defeated visiting Lakewood, 42-6, to advance to the second round at St. John Bosco.
It's the first home playoff game, and first playoff victory, for the Tritons since 2005. San Clemente (10-1) came into the game ranked No. 13 in the ESPNLA top 25, and Lakewood (7-4) No. 22. Clearly, the Tritons were ready to roll.
"I'm thrilled for the players, coaches, parents and community," said interim coach Jon Hamro, who replaced Eric Patton just weeks before the season when he was suspended by his school district for his alleged role in a kickback scheme with an athletic apparel company. "It's been a long time since we had a home game here. To get out of the first round was another goal of ours. We'll keep setting our goals."
Hamro had high praise for Wilson, the Utah recruit. He completed 15 of 23 passes for 176 yards and four touchdown. One pass was intercepted. It was the kind of performance the 6-foot-7 QB must continue to have if the Tritons are to make good on their goals.
Wilson completed second quarter passes of 20 yards to Chris French and 11 yards -- with 27 seconds left -- to Jacob Graff for touchdowns. The touchdown to French was preceded by Wilson converting a fourth down play at the Lakewood 25.
He passed four yards to Landon Cook in the third quarter for a 28-0 lead, and a seven-yarder to Cook in the fourth for a 35-6 margin.
The San Clemente defense -- led by Chad Foster and Christian Bailey -- contributed too, especially early as the Tritons seized control of the game. It limited Lakewood to 19 yards rushing in the first half, and Bailey's interception at the goal line protected a 21-0 lead as time expired on the first half.
Mike Elespuru scored from two yards on the opening drive -- following a 61-yard kickoff return by Christian Tober -- to stake San Clemente to a lead it would never relinquish.
Lakewood quarterback Brock Dale came into the game with 26 touchdowns and only five interceptions, and had averaged 189 yards per game, but the San Clemente defense is not a Moore League defense. Dale was replaced in the third quarter by junior Chris Bell; before he left, Dale completed 15 of 21 for 138 yards and two interceptions.
"We're competing week to week, day to day, really hour to hour and minute to minute," Hamro said. "We're really focused. We're just going out to play and perform at the best level we can."