Hometown Rivals: Wolverines vs Dolphins


Sports are filled with rivalries. Auburn vs Alabama, North Carolina vs Duke, and here in Orange County we have Aliso Niguel vs Dana Hills. 

Aliso faced its biggest rival Friday night as they took on the Dolphins at Dana Hills High School. Both student sections were packed as the fans were set on supporting their team even through the rain. 

During the 2021 season, the Dolphins defeated the Wolverines at home with a last-minute touchdown ending the game 29-28. This year the Wolverines had the opportunity to return the favor and take on the Dolphins at their home. This shot at redemption caused both schools’ student sections to be packed with students and parents as everyone turned out for the big games. 

Dana was 2:0 coming into this game and Aliso was 2:1 having lost to Canyon at home a few weeks prior. Dana was looking to continue their streak, while Aliso was looking to end it. Both teams were ready to battle in the most anticipated game of the season. 

Aliso was able to start the game off strongly, scoring a field goal at the beginning of the first quarter. Starting the score at 3:0. Dana quickly returned the favor scoring a touchdown with an extra point. Making the score 3:7. 

The second half was not a good start for the Wolverines as Dana gained 85 yards at the start of the quarter. They were easily able to score their second touchdown of the game soon after. Making the score 3:14. The Wolverines fought back, as Junior Hunter Najum threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to junior Dylan Kissen to make the score 10:14. The Dolphins responded, scoring a touchdown to end the first half 10:21. Aliso started to feel the pressure as the memory of last year’s game seemed to be looming over their heads. 

The Wolverines started the third quarter looking to tie the score. A poor pass from Dana’s Quarterback, Senior Conner Vernon, allowed Dylan Kissen to intercept the ball. This single mistake led to a touchdown to throw the game’s momentum Aliso’s way. With the ability to take the lead, Aliso felt the energy shift their way. 

The weather was also starting to take a turn for the worse as it began to rain on the players and fans. A little water didn’t seem to bother the students as both schools stuck through the pouring rain to support their team in the final moments of the game. 

The fourth quarter had a starting score of 17:21 with Dana still in the lead. However, Aliso emerged from the break with a new team with new energy and a new game plan. Aliso was now in a position to take the lead and they were not going to waste this opportunity. With a pass from Hunter Najum to Dylan Kissen, he was able to score his second touchdown of the game. The score was now 24:21 with Aliso taking the lead. Dana was now losing, having not scored a touchdown since the second quarter. Dana attempted to take back the lead with a field goal to tie the score. Aliso did not let the victory last long for the Dolphins. With under four minutes left in the game, the Wolverines scored another touchdown, 31:24. 

Dana started to feel the pressure in the closing minutes of the game. With a little over a minute left in the game, Dana surely felt it as they gave away another interception. This time caught by senior CJ Besuzzi. CJ cemented Aliso’s lead as he ran 60 yards to the endzone making the final score 38:24. 

Aliso was able to have their underdog moment as they fought through the pouring rain on Dana’s home field to have their redemption against the Dolphins. The win was bittersweet as it was a display of how far the team had come since the year prior. The Wolverines fought through the weather and were able to come up on top against their rivals. A special defeat the boys will be able to remember for the rest of their life.