The Nighthawks and Tritons are Both Seeking their First Divisional Championship
Murrieta Valley has home field advantage in Friday night’s CIF Southern Section Division 2 Championship game. The Nighthawks will be playing San Clemente (10-3), an explosive, dangerous, and well coached team that will be making their third consecutive CIF SS Final appearance.
San Clemente lost to Trabuco Hills 44-37 in 2014 and La Habra slipped past the Tritons 39-36 last year . Coach Jaime Ortiz is hoping that the third time is a charm. and is focused on winning it all this year. San Clemente was also in the Championship final game in 2011 under coach Jon Hamro. but was beaten by Santa Margarita 27-13.
Jack Sears quarterbacks the Tritons. The senior has thrown for 2.033 yards and 31 touchdowns. Last week Sears brought San Clemente back from a 28-14 deficit at the half to a 41-35 victory over Valencia. The USC commit threw for 221 yards and five touchdowns. He has only thrown two picks this year and can run. He carried the ball 128 times and gained 836 yards.
Juniors Keith Jones, Chris Kane and Chase Berman are also dangerous receivers. Junior Austin Whittset is the leading rusher for the Tritons with 914 yards on 137 carries.
The Tritons defense is anchored by seniors Jesse Mikulic , Mario Rossi, Austin Moore,Jason Graff juniors Riley Croft, jack Shippy, Bryce Wilson and Matt Waskowski. San Clemente has recorded 23 sacks and have intercepted 17 passes this year.
The Nighthawks were unstoppable last week against La Habra, Murrieta Valley scored on their first nine possessions behind their talented offensive line. Juniors Clay Hatch, Anthony Pardue, Adam Meyer, sophomore Kimo Waiaiae and senior Tenoa Fedler took control of the line of scrimmage and dominated the course of the game.
Running back Lika Palmer gets the job done on the ground. The senior gained 272 yards on 38 carries and scored four rushing touchdowns and another one in the air last week. He has run for over 850 yards in the last three playoff games.
Junior Marquis Spiker has 81 catches for 23 touchdowns and almost 1,500 yards. Senior and team captain Maurice Bell suffered an injury in last week’s victory but is expected to be back in the line up. Seniors TJ Griffin and Ryan Mascarenas will be running routes for the Nighthawks Friday night.
The Nighthawk defense made several key stops to ensure the victory but gave up six touchdowns and almost 500 yards against La Habra.
“We would like to play better defense in big games like this” said Murrieta Valley Coach Sean Cue. “With an offense like ours there’s some room for error. We came up with big stops when we needed to, but I hope we can fix the little mistakes we made as we head into the Championship game”.
Game Time is scheduled for 7:30 and will be televised.
Photos by Mike Clary