“This is not the first 10-0 team I’ve had, but this team is special and I’ve been blesssed to have the opportunity to coach them.” Bob Johnson closed out a brilliant coaching career at Mission Viejo High School with that comment to me after nearly everyone had left the stadium having celebrated and congratulated him that evening.
Bob Johnson coached his last regular season game at Mission Viejo on Friday night and it ended the way most have versus San Clemente, in a 49-21 victory. Johnson is 11-0-1 in his career versus San Clemente since 2004. As much as I’m sure that the San Clemente faithful respect and appreciate the coach Bob Johnson, they are quietly and respectfully happy to see him go!
Mission Viejo opened the scoring with a 56 yard bomb from junior quarterback Joey Yellen to HSPN Impact Player, Olaijah Griffin. The Diablos capitalized on a Triton fumble soon after with an eight yard touchdown run by Akili Arnold to take the score to 14-0. Before the Tritons could come up for air, Mission Viejo took advantage of another Triton miscue when ‘Rivalry Game’ MVP and HSPN Impact Player, Christian LaValle intercepted a Brendan Costello pass, returning it 26 yards to set up Arnold for another touchdown run of two yards.
San Clemente climbed back into the game with a pair of scores in the first half. Running back Austin Whitsett ran the ball in from the 4 yard line for the Tritions’ first score to bring it to 21-7 in the early in the second quarter. San Clemente quarterback and
HSPN Impact Player Brendan Costello appeared to score on a one-yard sneak but fumbled into the endzone. Fortunately for the Tritons, senior offensive lineman Thomas Wade was there to fall on the ball bringing the score to 21-14. The Diablos closed the half with a 38 yard touchdown grab by HSPN Impact Player, Austin Osborne to take 28-14 lead into the locker room. That would be the closest San Clemente would get to Mission Viejo all night.
The game became an afterthought soon after the second half began as Mission Viejo began to put the game away. The atmosphere at Diablo stadium remained electric and robust as time in the game, and on Bob Johnson’s clock began to wind down. The Mission Viejo student section started a cheer that said, “thank you Bob!” Getting to know
Bob Johnson the way I have over this past week, he would be the first to say “thank you” to all of his players, parents, family and friends for this blessing of an opportunity to coach he great game of football. Whether you’re a casual or serious fan of the game, we all should be thankful that a man like Bob Johnson graced this game and touched the lives of so many young men.
I witnessed the ultimate “career walk-off” watching Bob Johnson reach out for his wife at the end of it all, just before they turned the lights out in the stadium. He was and always will be, the last man standing.
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