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By Zach Cavanagh

Game One: Friday, Aug. 19, 7 p.m.

Oceanside

Location: Oceanside HS

Coach: Dave Rodriguez

2021 Record: 4-7 (1-5 Avocado League)

2021 vs. SC: SC win, 34-0

Season Outlook:

Oceanside graduated all of its top offensive and defensive contributors after a disappointing campaign.

However, the Pirates are never too short on talent and are reloaded for the sixth installment of the Battle of the Base. San Clemente has won four of the five matchups between the two Camp Pendleton-adjacent schools since 2016, with the only loss coming in 2016.

Oceanside will be led offensively by sophomore quarterback Andrew Miller and junior running back Georgie Nua. Nua ran for 212 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries last season.

Game Two: Friday, Aug. 26, 7 p.m.

Torrey Pines

Location: San Clemente HS

Coach: Robby Collins

2021 Record: 6-4 (4-2 Avocado League)

2021 vs. SC: TP canceled (COVID-19)

Season Outlook:

Torrey Pines will have a new coach at the helm in Robby Collins, but old-school football fans need not worry. The Falcons will still roll into San Clemente with their trademark Wing-T offense.

Collins had been the offensive coordinator for the previous two seasons under former coach Rod Gladnick, who left for St. Augustine in San Diego.

Due to the COVID pandemic and last season’s COVID cancellation, Torrey Pines and San Clemente haven’t faced off since 2019, when the Tritons clobbered the Falcons in San Clemente, 31-7.

Game Three: Friday, Sept. 2, 7 p.m.

La Costa Canyon

Location: San Clemente HS

Coach: Sean Sovacool

2021 Record: 5-6 (3-3 Avocado League)

2021 vs. SC: SC win, 13-6

Season Outlook:

San Clemente’s opening San Diego County/Avocado League tour concludes against La Costa Canyon, and if history between the two teams is any gauge, buckle up.

The past four matchups between the two schools have been decided by one score, including two straight San Clemente wins. Last season, the Tritons were held scoreless until the fourth quarter,  when they scored in the first minute and the final minute to take the win.

La Costa Canyon once again opens with San Clemente South Coast League colleague Tesoro.

Game Four: Friday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m.

Corona del Mar

Location: Newport Harbor HS

Coach: Dan O’Shea

2021 Record: 9-3 (3-2 Sunset League)

2021 vs. SC: CdM win, 7-3

Season Outlook:

Normally, the Battle for the Trident (not what it’s called, but it should be) has been an offensively exciting affair, and despite the hype entering last season’s edition, the two teams played out the textbook defensive battle.

The Sea Kings ground out the win, 7-3, last season, but despite that and Corona del Mar graduating its top receivers, don’t look for this year’s matchup to play out the same way.

Corona del Mar returns its UC Davis-committed quarterback David Rasor, who threw for 34 touchdowns and 2,365 yards last season.

Game Five: Friday, Sept. 16, 7 p.m.

Edison

Location: San Clemente HS

Coach: Jeff Grady

2021 Record: 8-4 (4-1 Sunset League)

2021 vs. SC: Edison win, 42-0

Season Outlook:

Aside from a season-opening blowout to Servite last season, Edison either won in a rout or lost by just a handful of points.

One of those routs was over San Clemente, in a 42-0 game in which nothing went right for the Tritons. Although it was a big margin and the Chargers had four rushing touchdowns, Edison only had 93 yards rushing. Three interceptions and a 97-yard fumble return didn’t help, though.

Luckily for San Clemente, Edison graduated its leading rusher, but its quarterback and some top receivers return.

Game Six: Friday, Sept. 23, 7 p.m.

Murrieta Valley

Location: Murrieta Valley HS

Coach: George Wilson

2021 Record: 7-4 (5-0 Southwestern League)

2021 vs. SC: SC win, 21-20

Season Outlook:

Ever since the Tritons beat Murrieta Valley for their only CIF-SS title in 2016, the Nighthawks have become an entertaining fixture on the San Clemente schedule.

Last season’s clash was somehow the lowest-scoring entry in the series, and even then, there was plenty of drama to be had, as the Tritons blocked a field-goal attempt as time expired to capture the one-point win.

Leading the Nighthawks this season are a pair of Bachmeiers: sophomore quarterback Bear and senior receiver Tiger. They are brothers of former quarterback Hank.

Game Seven: Friday, Sept. 30, 7 p.m.

Steele Canyon

Location: Steele Canyon HS

Coach: Scott Longerbone

2021 Record: 3-8 (2-1 Grossmont Hills League)

2021 vs. SC: N/A, First Meeting

Season Outlook:

San Clemente closes out its nonleague schedule with a new face and another trip down to San Diego County to meet the Steele Canyon Cougars.

Just inland from downtown San Diego, Steele Canyon is a team that commits to the run game, which should be a good physical test for the Tritons heading into their bye week.

Steele Canyon returns its leading rusher from last season in senior running back Major Givens, who carried the ball 276 times for 1,516 yards and 12 touchdowns. Expect limited throws from whomever is under center.

Game Eight: Friday, Oct. 14,pl 7 p.m.

Mission Viejo

Location: San Clemente HS

Coach: Chad Johnson

2021 Record: 9-2 (3-0 South Coast League)

2021 vs. SC: MV win, 45-0

Season Outlook:

Old foes meet again, but this time to open league play instead of closing out the season. 

San Clemente and Mission Viejo have split the past four matchups, with each team winning on its home turf. The Tritons have won in tight thrillers, while the Diablos have rolled in dull blowouts. Will Thalassa Stadium bring magic again?

Mission Viejo is being built up as a public-school Death Star with all of their explosive passing stars returning. The Diablos lost their top rusher and several key defenders, but, of course, they always reload.

Game Nine: Friday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m.

Capistrano Valley

Location: San Clemente HS

Coach: Sean Curtis

2021 Record: 6-5 (2-1 Sea View League)

2021 vs. SC: Did Not Play

Season Outlook:

Capistrano Valley returns to the South Coast League after a brief hiatus, and it may not be a warm welcome.

Since 2004, Capistrano Valley is a combined 1-25 against the other three South Coast League teams: San Clemente (0-12), Mission Viejo (0-8) and Tesoro (1-5). The one win against Tesoro came in their first-ever meeting in 2006.

The Cougars’ chance at competing rests on the shoulders of senior quarterback Trey Kukuk, who threw for 3,327 yards and 33 touchdowns and ran for another 830 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

Game Ten: Friday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m.

Tesoro

Location: Tesoro HS

Coach: Matt Poston

2021 Record: 2-8 (0-3 South Coast League)

2021 vs. SC: SC win, 49-35

Season Outlook:

Tesoro kept its spot in the South Coast League, if just barely. At the league meeting, it came down to a tiebreaker with San Juan Hills, and Tesoro earned its spot with a better combined freshman and junior varsity record.

Does that mean Tesoro is toast again? No, because they at least have Capistrano Valley to play, and they’ll have better quarterback play this season. Last season, the Titans split their QB time, but they’re going to commit to a starter this season.

San Clemente has won its past six against Tesoro.

Zach Cavanagh

Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at zcavanagh@picketfencemedia.com.

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