Aliso Niguel Friday Night Lights Returns

The Friday night lights are back on as the Wolverines kick off their first game of the season with a battle against Canyon High School. Aliso Niguel’s student section, the winners of the 2022 OC Student Section, came out strong when the 600-person area filled when the gates opened for the Aug. 19 game.

Anticipation was high for the first game of the season and the fans showed their excitement with overwhelming enthusiasm for the Wolverines. 

The game was the first of a ten-game season for Aliso, who went four losses and six wins in the 2021 season.

 After a scrimmage against the San Clemente Tritons the Friday before, Aliso was prepared to play against the Canyon Comanches, who went 3-7 in the year prior. 

Canyon High School came out strong with a touchdown to start the game. However, the Wolverines quickly returned the favor. A pass from starting quarterback #9 Hunter Najum (junior) to #18 Jack Gill (senior) scored the wolverine’s first touchdown of the night and season. The score remained tied through the remainder of the first quarter. 

Coming into the second quarter the once promising game quickly made a turn for the worse, as the Wolverines lost their focus giving up 26 points to the Comanches. The quarter ended with an incomplete pass from Hunter Najum (junior) to #11 Dylan Kissen (junior) to finish off the first half.

Coming off halftime the Wolverines returned to a fraction of the fans they had when the game first started and a losing score of 7-34. The lack of fans was a problem ASB had worked to fix the year prior as they attempted to keep fans engaged the whole game no matter the score. 

Andrew Mashburn, the Athletic Director at Aliso, hopes students will look past the score in the future. He explains that “In a situation like this with the score so wide it’s understandable. But we obviously want the kids to stay and enjoy it and enjoy the experience, not just necessarily the outcome.” 

The second half did not look promising for the Wolverines as Canyon scored two touchdowns in the first couple of minutes. Aliso did not give up hope, as they battled against the Comanches who soon pulled ahead scoring 26 points in the 3rd quarter compared to Aliso’s 7. 

Aliso ended the game with a touchdown thrown by backup quarterback #26 Connor Entire (sophomore) ending the game with a score of 20-54.

The game did not have the outcome the fans were hoping for and it was not how the Wolverines intended to start their season. 

Instead of seeing the game as a defeat, Aliso’s Head Coach Michael Callahan is using the game as a learning experience for the team and looking toward the future. 

“It’s a long season”, Coach Calahan states. “The great thing about football is that you get on to the next [game]. We have a new opponent on Friday that we have to prepare for.” 

Andrew Mashburn sees the first game of the season as a great lesson for the boys and not necessarily a failure. 

Mashburn explains that “I think it’ll be great motivation for them. I think the kids are going to understand there is a lot more work to be done and they’re going to definitely shape up.” 

Both men see great potential for the team going into this season. With 15 players having their first varsity position at the Aug. 16th game, the team is young and carries a lot of room for improvement.

With four more home games to go, the Aliso Niguel student section will have another chance to cheer on the Wolverines. The most anticipated game of the season is on Sep. 9th when Aliso will have a chance to go up against their rivals Dana Hills after a devastating 28-29 loss to them last year. The game is set to be played at Dana Hills High School giving the boys a chance to beat them on their own turf. 

The season is far from over and the Wolverines are far from done. It’s a long season and the Wolverines are living in the present preparing for their future opponents.