by Steve Breazeale
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Tonight’s game between San Clemente (4-2) and El Toro (6-0) marks the start of South Coast League play for both teams. The game will be held at Trabuco Hills at 7 p.m.
Up until Triton senior quarterback Sean Donnelly suffered a strain to his throwing shoulder two weeks ago, the Tritons were putting up impressive offensive numbers. In the four games started by Donnelly, all of them victories, San Clemente averaged 41.5 points per game and beat their opponents by a combined 166-30 margin. In the two games with Donnelly on the sideline, the tables have been turned on the Tritons as they’ve been outscored by 59-10 in back-to-back losses to Newport Harbor and Edison.
It is still uncertain whether Donnelly will start tonight and relieve third stringer Loren Applegate, who has filled in under center in his absence. Triton head coach Jaime Ortiz could not be reached to comment on the status of Donnelly and several other injured Tritons, a list that includes: LG/DT Sam Hunter, DE/LB Kelsey Benoit and RT Jacob Bryson. All four players, Donnelly included, were on Ortiz’s opening day roster as starters.
In practice the week after his injury occurred, both Donnelly and Ortiz were optimistic about the senior returning within 1-2 weeks.
The Tritons will need to be healthy tonight if they are going to match El Toro score-for-score. The Chargers enter tonight’s tilt as the second highest scoring team in the league, averaging 50 points per game. Their high powered offense is led by their senior quarterback Connor Manning, who is currently in pursuit of just about every passing record in the CIF-SS record books.
Manning recently passed for a county record 613 yards against Valhalla on September 21. He is completing just over 68 percent of his passes, averaging 428.7 yards per game and has thrown 27 touchdowns and only one interception. So far he’s passed for 2,572 yards in six games.
Manning also has a talented receiving corps to throw to and he has connected with five different wide outs for touchdowns this season. His favorite target appears to be senior Cody White, who has caught 43 passes for 589 yards and 11 touchdowns.