San Clemente seeks first California state football title

San Clemente football
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The San Clemente football team spent eight hours on a bus Friday, but the journey was worth it.  The Tritons, currently ranked #7 in the High School Football America SoCal Top 25, traveled north to Sacramento where they will face defending state champ Del Oro (13-2) Saturday at 4 P.M. in the CIF Division 1-A state championship game at Sacramento State University.  In our statewide rankings that are created with our proprietary algorithm, San Clemente is ranked #11 in the state, while Del Oro is #13.

The game is the culmination of a magical run through the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, which saw ninth-seeded San Clemente (12-3) beat the three of the top seeds — #1 Heritage, #2 Murrieta Valley and #4 Valenica — to win the Division 2 championship.  Last weekend, the Tritons beat Edison 39-35 on a last second touchdown.

Friday on a damp and rainy day in usually sunny San Clemente, the team’s buses were escorted to Interstate 5 by police and fire trucks blaring their sirens and fans lining the exit of the school to cheer-on their team.  Before leaving, I caught-up with head coach Jaime Ortiz, who talked (below) about the task ahead — trying to bring home state gold.

San Clemente senior quarterback Jack Sears has led a powerful offensive attack with his arm and his leg throughout the season.  Sears, who has given his verbal commitment to USC, has completed nearly 67-percent of his throws for 2,504 yards with 36 touchdowns and only four interceptions.  On the ground, Sears has averaged 6.9 yards a carry while picking-up 1,099 yards and nine touchdowns.  Junior Austin Whitsett is second on the team in rushing with 1,065 yards, followed by senior Brandon Reeves, who’s averaging over 10 yards a carry with 708 yards and 14 TDs.  Reeves is Sears favorite target with 70 catches and eleven touchdowns.

In addition to playing in its second straight state championship and fourth since 2011, Del Oro’s campus is only 30 minutes away from Sacramento, which will give the Golden Eagles a bit of a home field advantage.

Del Oro features two running backs that have topped 1,000 yards this year — seniors Dalton Gee (1,304 19 TDs) and Camrion Davis (1,003, 12 TDs).  As a team, Del Oro is averaging 273 yards a game on the ground.

Senior quarterback Stone Smartt has complete over 68-percent of his throws for 2,862 yards with 29 touchdowns and only six interceptions.  He’s also rushed for 841 yards and ten touchdowns.

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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.