Act II of last season’s CIF Southern Section Division II championship game between San Clemente and Murrieta Valley struck a familiar theme in that points were going to be scored.
The outcome was also familiar as No. 13 San Clemente defeated 18th-ranked Murrieta Valley 62-27 on Friday night in a nonleague home game at San Clemente High.
The man unfamiliar with the brief history between the two sides was San Clemente quarterback Brendan Costello, a junior transfer from Santa Margarita, who was crucial in the Tritons’ victory.
Costello replaced two-year starter Jack Sears, now a freshman at USC who backs up current Trojans starter (and San Clemente alumnus) Sam Darnold, and drew comparisons to both with his poise and efficiency.
The 6-foot-1 junior completed 14 of 17 passes for 212 yards and four touchdowns, while adding 106 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Costello said that he didn’t see much of Darnold or Sears play live at San Clemente, but has seen film and takes some things of theirs to add to his game.
“They’re just ballers,” Costello said. “Sam and Jack have set a really high bar here and I’m just getting better every day.”
Running back Austin Whitsett was another baller for San Clemente (4-0) as he rushed for 152 yards in 19 carries with two touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jack Shippy picked off Nighthawks quarterback Hank Bachmeier and took it back 33 yards for a touchdown to give the Tritons a 37-14 lead early in the third quarter.
San Clemente linebacker Rob Farney also came up big for the Tritons with an interception and three sacks.
Tritons Coach Jaime Ortiz said his team viewed Friday night like a statement game.
“They’re a great program,” he said of Murrieta Valley (2-2). “All three phases of the ball played really well for us tonight and it was a good solid victory for our team.”
A scary moment came when Murrieta Valley running back Jordan Murry fell awkwardly after a run up the middle.
Murry stayed on the ground for 14 minutes before being put on a stretcher and taken off the field to a nearby ambulance.
Bachmeier, a four-star prospect, threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with Washington commit Marquis Spiker on all scores.
Whitsett set the tone early in the first half, rushing for both of his touchdowns within the first 6:12.
San Clemente has won 10 straight games dating to Nov. 4, when the Tritons lost to Mission Viejo.