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TRITONS, OLD AND NEW, HEAD INTO THE NEW SEASON By Steve Breazeale Last season the San Clemente football team was built around returning seniors who played both sides of the ball. Mainstays like Sean Harlow, Christian Bailey and Landon Cook were the catalysts for both the offense and defense. They were considered a relatively young team when taking varsity experience into account. Well, this year the Tritons can be considered even younger. A number of sophomore, junior and senior players will don the red and black for the first time as varsity players when the Tritons take to the field for their season opener against Long Beach Jordan on August 30. Head coach Jaime Ortiz and his staff have adopted a one-platoon style approach this year, which means there will be a limited number of players who play both ways. Instead, players are focusing solely on either offense or defense. The coaching staff feels it is a better fit for the personnel that make up the 2013 roster. “In order for us to maximize our talent with what we have, we decided we are going to have one-way guys. It gives guys in their first year starting an opportunity just to focus on one side of the ball,” Ortiz said. “In the past we’ve been on both sides and it’s a

Junior quarterback Sam Darnold will lead the Tritons up-tempo offense this season. Photo by Steve Breazeale

lot of information, a lot of reps and sometimes you don’t get the most out of each individual athlete.” One-platoon systems also limit the wear and tear on players, which can lead to injury. The Tritons had several key injuries last year and with this approach, Ortiz hopes they will stay relatively healthy. As of August 21, three sophomores were slated to start on offense although one of them, left guard Dante Harrington, started last year as a freshman. On defense the Tritons are more experienced and field a senior-heavy group with juniors sprinkled in amongst the ranks. But several of those seniors have little varsity experience. All of the new faces have led to what has become the main storyline of the Tritons camp—an opportunity for competition. The young guns have been fighting for spots over the offseason and even with little

Sophomore running back Vlad Dzhabiyev is one of nine sophomores looking to make an impact on the Tritons varsity roster. Photo by Steve Breazeale 2013 Triton Football Preview



2012 Record: 5-5, 1-3 South Coast League Returning Starters: Offense 7; Defense 3 Offensive Set: Spread Defensive Set: 4-3 Head Coach: Jaime Ortiz (5-5 overall record) Assistant Coaches: Pat Harlow (Assistant head coach/offensive line/strength and conditioning), John Hamro (offensive line), Troy Kopp (quarterbacks), Oscar Montecinos (receivers), Bryon Rex (tight ends/receivers), Joe Wood (running backs), Leo Barker (defensive coordinator/defensive line), Chris Culbertson (defensive line/special teams), Pat Walker (defensive backs) experience, they have been impressing the Tritons veterans. “It’s more energy. All those kids want to prove themselves and go out there and show they can play with all the big boys,” senior free safety Collin Zines, a two-year starter, said. “They are kind of learning as we go. Guys are starting to fit into their roles … they are fitting in pretty well. We have some studs on this team,” senior strong safety Peyton Garrett added. One young player who has steamrolled his way into a starting job is sophomore running back Vlad Dzhabiyev, who one year ago was playing for the Tritons junior varsity ranks as a freshman. Dzhabiyev is the smallest player on the offense but has proven to be a hardnosed, speedy tailback who picks up yards. Ortiz also likes his dual-threat ability and says he is extremely adept at catching the ball out of the backfield. Dzhabiyev has hit the ground running since he joined the varsity squad and has

had to adapt to the quickness and physicality of the game. He’s also figuring out an entirely new playbook. “Last year I was in a totally different place so I’ve had to learn the new plays all over again and get back into the feel of competing,” Dzhabiyev said. The young players have been fun to watch, but it is the group of returning starters and experienced varsity players that the Tritons will lean on as they head into the new season. One of the more veteran groups of the team comes in the form of the offensive line, where center Tyler Maxwell, left tackle Adam Solano and right tackle Tyler Abercrombie return for their senior campaigns. All three saw considerable playing time as juniors and will help set the tempo for the offense. Lining up next to the line will be threeyear varsity tight end Jason Wright, who Ortiz pegs as a candidate for a breakout season. Wright is a big target, standing at 6-feet-2-inches, and will double as an outside linebacker on defense. The responsibility of making the offense click will be the Tritons quarterbacks—and they have two good ones. Junior Sam Darnold will open the season as the starter. Fans will remember Darnold’s role in the Tritons’ signature 29-21 come from behind victory over Tesoro last year. Darnold burned the Titans to the tune of 241 passing yards and two passing touchdowns in his first career varsity start. He also rushed for 80 yards and punched one into the end zone. Behind Darnold on the depth chart is senior Loren Applegate, who started two games last year. Ortiz describes Applegate as a pocket quarterback who can make the throws downfield. The defense will consist of solid seniors like Zines and Garrett, along with middle linebacker Grant Lyttle. Lyttle was a role player last year, filling in when needed, but has a chance to lead the defense in 2013 at one of the most crucial spots in the middle of the field. Holding the defense together is senior defensive end Kelsey Benoit, who led the team with nine sacks last season. The mix of young talent and returning veterans has made for an optimistic vibe around Tritons camp. Mission Viejo is still the team to beat in the South Coast League but a number of Tritons believe that outside of the Diablos, the chance for a playoff spot is up for grabs. El Toro is without their star powered offense and Tesoro graduated dozens of seniors, which has the Tritons thinking big. “I’m really looking forward to this season … I think our defense is going to be much better than what people think. Our offense is going to be up-tempo and really fast, I don’t think people will see that coming,” Darnold said. “Right now I see ourselves winning a league championship no matter what. Mission Viejo is going to be hard. Trabuco has a lot of returners…but nothing is going to be easy.”




Tyler Maxwell C (No. 74), Sr. As a three-year varsity player, Maxwell will provide experience and skill at the line for the Tritons and has emerged as a team leader over the summer. Maxwell has a wrestling background and relies on his size and technique to move bodies up front. Sam Darnold QB (No. 18), Jr. Darnold is one of the most dynamic athletes in the area and he possesses a varied set of skills that make him the favorite to start under center for the Tritons on opening day. Darnold, who picked up an offer from the University of Utah in the offseason, is a big and mobile quarterback. Jason Wright TE (No. 88), Sr. Wright is a three-year varsity player who head coach Jaime Ortiz expects to have a big year. Last season he started for the Tritons on both offense and defense and will do so again in 2013. He will play tight end as well as linebacker. Wright will be a big target for the Tritons quarterbacks to throw to and he has shown he can block on the line. Austin Heaton WR (No. 83), Sr. Heaton is one of the few seniors in the Tritons receiving corps and has built up a rapport with both Sam Darnold and Loren Applegate, the Tritons’ two quarterbacks. Vlad Dzhabiyev RB (No. 30), Soph. Dzhabiyev is one of the youngest players on the San Clemente roster but is quickly making an impact. He is slated to be the starting tailback when the Tritons take to the field for the season opener. 2013 Triton Football Preview


Tackle Solano (58)



Harrington (79) Maxwell (74)



Volling (75)

Abercrombie (70)

Wide Reciever

Tight End

Wide Reciever

Wright (88)

Fotheringham (14)

Quarterback Heaton (83) Darnold (18)

Wide Reciever Tailback

Gonzalez (6) Mestaz (1)

Kicker Gonzalez (6)

Dzhabiyev (30)

2013 San Clemente Football Varsity Roster No. 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 10 11 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 22 23 24 25 29 30 33 34 35 36

Name Charlie Mestaz Loren Applegate Jake Feiner Torrey Larson Blake Gonzalez Logen Cathey Grant Lyttle Jameson Klatt Kelsey Benoit Cole Fotheringham Nate Runolfson Andrew Wilk Garrett Fernandez Sam Darnold Peyton Garrett Trent Addis Collin Zines Jake Russell Jalen Loska Marcus Turner Tanner Wright Vlad Dzhabiyev Sebastian Delgadillo John O’Brien Weston Gillote Kevin Villarouel


HT 5’7 6’0 5’6 5’8 5’10 6’1 5’11 6’2 5’11 6’4 5’10 5’11 5’10 6’4 6’2 5’9 6’1 5’10 6’2 6’2 5’9 5’9 5’8 6’1 5’7 5’10

WT 170 182 150 145 175 175 210 210 210 200 155 205 205 210 180 125 180 145 220 195 175 160 181 185 135 165

GR 10 12 11 12 12 12 12 12 12 10 10 10 12 11 12 12 12 11 12 12 10 10 12 12 11 12

No. 41 44 46 50 52 53 54 55 56 58 68 69 70 72 74 75 76 79 80 81 82 83 85 88

Name Edwin Dimas Liam Mills Liam Buhl Blaze Gonzalez Trey Fullerton Tucker Scott Colin Lippincott Francisco Romero Chicho Rodriguez Adam Solano Gerardo Gomez Daniel Navarete Tyler Abercrombie Shaughn Ritchie Tyler Maxwell Austin Volling Miguel Lavin Dante Harrington Colby Williams Dane Habig Cole Harlow Austin Heaton Triston Morgan Jason Wright Jack West

HT Pos. 6’0 LB 5’11 LB 5’7 DL 5’6 DL 6’1 DL 6’1 OL 6’0 OL 6’0 OL 6’0 DL 6’4 OL 6’1 DL 6’2 DL 6’0 OL 6’5 RT 6’1 OL 6’1 OL 6’0 DL 6’2 OL 5’11 WR DB/WR 6’0 6’5 TE 6’2 WR 5’11 WR 6’2 TE/LB Student Manager


WT 190 210 160 220 240 240 225 240 205 220 230 285 250 265 280 220 260 255 150 145 185 185 145 230

GR 12 11 10 11 12 12 11 11 11 12 11 12 12 11 12 11 11 10 11 11 11 12 11 12 10

4-3 Defense



Loska (24)

Gomez/ Navarrette


Nose Tackle Rodriguez (56)

End Benoit/ O’Brien


Larson (4)

Russell (23)

Safety Garrett (19) Cathey (7)





Wright/ Fernandez

Lyttle (8)

Klatt (10)


Collin Zines FS (No. 22), Sr. Zines had a solid junior campaign and will be among the more experienced players on the Tritons defense. At the cornerback spot last year Zines had 48 total tackles and grabbed a teamhigh two interceptions. Zines is making the switch to free safety this year. Kelsey Benoit DE (No. 11), Sr. Benoit should be a force on the defensive line for the Tritons this season. He is among the strongest players on the team and was the resident sack master in 2012, leading the team with nine sacks. He will look to up that number in 2013. Grant Lyttle MLB (No. 8), Sr. Lyttle was more of a role player in 2012 but has been given the nod to start at middle linebacker for the Tritons defense. Lyttle has shown Ortiz he has the ability to read opposing offenses and will be the general of the defense. Peyton Garrett SS (No. 19), Sr. Garrett was injured for a stretch in 2012 and played some time at wide receiver. This season he has made the switch to defense and will occupy a spot in the secondary at strong safety. Garrett and Zines will make up a speedy defensive pairing who aim to disrupt opposing quarterbacks’ efforts. John O’Brien DE (No. 34), Sr. O’Brien did not see much time last year on varsity but has been thrust into the role of defensive end for his senior year. O’Brien is slated to platoon with Benoit at the spot.

Zines (22)



JORDAN Location: San Clemente High Time: 7 p.m. Coach: John Kane League: Moore 2012-2013 record: 5-5 (3-3 league) 2012-2013 vs. SCHS: DNP Season Outlook: Jordan will be without star receiver/kick returner and University of Washingtonbound John Ross, who provided much of the Panthers’ offensive punch last season. The loss of Ross, along with go-to running back Marquise McGuire, will be a void the Panthers will need to fill if they are to compete in the perennially tough Moore League. The Panthers will field a veteran offensive line this year, with the likes of Mace Asaeli, Eric Cordova and Siaosi Pahulu all returning. These three linemen helped pave the way for McGuire’s running game last year.



EDISON Location: Edison High Time: 7 p.m. Coach: Dave White League: Sunset 2012-2013 record: 13-2 (5-0 league) 2012 vs. SC: Win, 31-3 Season Outlook: Edison turned in a truly dominant performance in 2013. They captured the Sunset League title, the CIF-SS Southwest championship and played in the CIF Division II Regional Championship game. The Chargers had a potent offense but where they made their bed was on the defensive side of the ball. In 15 games Edison’s defense allowed an average of 7.8 points to be scored against them. During the regular season that number dropped to an astounding 4.7 points per game allowed. The main defensive leaders of the team have departed but that should not slow them down for long.

2013 Triton Football Preview



CABRILLO Location: San Clemente High Time: 7 p.m. Coach: Jason Brown League: Moore 2012-2013 record: 3-8 (3-3 league) 2012 vs. SC: Loss, 37-6 Season Outlook: A lot of their success will be determined by quarterback Kaelon Price, who played in all 11 of the Jaguars’ games last year as a junior. Price had a relatively clean touchdown to interception ratio of 12:7 and led a balanced attack. Junior running back Rico Martin had a breakout sophomore season, averaging 6.49 yards per carry, and figures to be in the mix again. The one spot where Cabrillo’s depth charts took a hit was in the receiving corps, where they lost five seniors who reeled in at least 10 catches each.



EL TORO Location: San Clemente High Time: 7 p.m. Coach: Robert Frith League: South Coast 2012-2013 record: 9-2 (3-1 league) 2012 vs. SC: Win, 49-37 Season Outlook: Last year’s El Toro team was an offensive juggernaut, powering their way to the first round of the CIF Pac-5 playoffs, where they drew Santa Margarita in the first round. El Toro’s offense had their way with opposing defenses, scoring 35 points or more eight times on the year. But Conner Manning, the county record setting quarterback behind that offense, is gone. That makes the big question mark for El Toro heading into the season fairly obvious. Who will fill in at quarterback? Junior Trey Tinsley seems to be the likely successor. Manning’s favorite target, receiver Dominic Collins, will be back for his senior year.



DANA HILLS Location: Dana Hills High Time: 7 p.m. Coach: Todd Rusinkovich League: Sea View 2012-2013 record: 4-6 (3-1 league) 2012 vs. SC: Loss, 42-14 Season Outlook: Dana Hills claimed the school’s first-ever league title in 2013. They will be missing several impact seniors but return their starting quarterback, Mac Vail, and running back Brian Scott. After starting out 0-5 on the season, the Dolphins rallied in league play, going 3-1. The Dolphins players have proven they can face adversity, like losing five straight games to start their season, and bounce back. What they will have this season is a full year of Scott getting a lions’ share of the touches in the backfield. Expect an emphasis on the run game.

LA COSTA CANYON Location: San Clemente High Time: 7 p.m. Coach: Scott Sovacool League: Avocado-West 2012-2013 record: 7-4 (3-1 league) 2012 vs. SC: Loss, 21-10 Season Outlook: Las Costa Canyon has been a mainstay on the Tritons preseason roster for the past three years and for good reason. The Mavericks have proven to be a tough preseason opponent out of the San Diego Section and have earned a berth in the CIF playoffs in each of the past nine seasons. San Clemente has gotten the better of the team from the south in their past three meetings. La Costa Canyon did their damage on the ground last year, racking up 2,134 total rushing yards. Departed senior Deon Dickey provided 1,267 of those yards and will not be a factor this time around. Senior Jake Mann figures to replace Dickey as the go-to running back.



MISSION VIEJO Location: Mission Viejo High Time: 7 p.m. Coach: Bob Johnson League: South Coast 2012-2013 record: 11-1 (4-0 league) 2012 vs. SC: Win, 45-7 Season Outlook: As always, Mission Viejo will enter the new season as one of the top ranked teams in the county and the state. The Diablos breezed their way to another South Coast League title last year and with returners like Ian Fieber (quarterback), Alek Suchesk (running back) and Andrew Schuurs (wide receiver), the skill positions on offense are all in place for another repeat. The Diablos also got some added depth in the form of transfers. Senior defensive tackle Nick Dehdashtian transferred in from Santa Margarita and should be an impact player. Former Dana Hills receiver Connor Hill also transferred to Mission Viejo.



TESORO Location: San Clemente High Time: 7 p.m. Coach: Matt Poston League: South Coast 2012-2013 record: 7-4 (1-3 league) 2012 vs. SC: Loss, 29-21 Season Outlook: Amid a torrent of changes, the Tesoro football program will look to right itself under the direction of new head coach Matt Poston. Former coach Brian Barnes was removed from duties with one week still to play last year and Tesoro did not look far for finding his replacement in Poston. Poston comes to Tesoro from Capistrano Valley, where he was at the helm for three years. Poston has ties to the Tesoro program, having served as an assistant and freshman head coach for the program in 2001. Poston will inherit a team that has been on the rise in recent years and appeared in the first round of the Pac-5 Championships last year.

By Steve Breazeale



NEWPORT HARBOR Location: San Clemente High Time: 7 p.m. Coach: Jeff Brinkley League: Sunset 2012-2013 record: 7-5 (4-1 league) 2012 vs. SC: Win, 28-7 Season Outlook: Newport Harbor has had a lot of success under head coach Jeff Brinkley and will look to build on their impressive 2013 campaign. The Sailors finished second in the Sunset League last year behind eventual CIF-SS Southwest Champion Edison and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. The Sailors had a streaky run last season, dropping preseason games to Loyola and Trabuco Hills but rattled off close victories over Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos. They’ll need to be more consistent in league if they want to compete with Edison.



TRABUCO HILLS Location: Trabuco Hills High Time: 7 p.m. Coach: Scott Orloff League: South Coast 2012-2013 record: 5-5 (1-3 league) 2012 vs. SC: Win, 21-14 Season Outlook: The Mustangs had a bit of turnover on their depth charts but have solid returning players to build around that could bring them out of the bottom of the South Coast League. Junior wide receiver Jacob Breeland and senior running back Jordan Hettinger should sure up some of the skill positions. Senior defensive end Nick Leduc had a nice junior season, racking up 75 total tackles while leading the team with five sacks. If Trabuco Hills can find the pieces to fill in the gaps they could have a solid season.

2013 Triton Football Preview  
2013 Triton Football Preview  

San Clemente Times