The Mission Viejo football team didn’t dance around the underlying theme of revenge in its annual rivalry game against San Clemente.
“I told the team before the game we’ve been waiting 365 days for this,” senior linebacker Easton Mascarenas said. “We used that as motivation for the last two weeks and got in a good mental state.”
One year removed from the Tritons ending the Diablos’ nine-year reign atop the South Coast League standings with a thrilling one-point victory, Mission Viejo entered Friday night’s game with an extra sense of motivation.
Mission Viejo proved its point early in its 38-6 rolling of San Clemente, scoring three touchdowns in the first 7:56 of the game, while securing at least a share of a South Coast League title for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons.
The No. 4-ranked Diablos can earn the outright league championship with a win over Tesoro next week.
Mission Viejo (9-0, 3-0) couldn’t have drawn up a better start to the game.
James McDonald picked off Nick Billoups on the second play of the game to set up a 16-yard touchdown pass from Peter Costelli to Chase Nenad.
The Diablos’ defense forced San Clemente to punt on its next possession, and McDonald returned the kick into Tritons territory, setting up another short field at the 26-yard line.
Mission Viejo needed only five plays to get into the end zone with Jacquez Robertson giving the Diablos a 14-0 lead with a four-yard run.
Mission Viejo’s defense came up big again on San Clemente’s ensuing possession as Mascarenas intercepted Drayton Joseph and returned it 54 yards for a score, giving the Diablos a 21-0 advantage at the 4:04 mark of the first quarter.
No. 12 San Clemente (8-2, 3-1) got the break it needed late in the first after a sloppy center-quarterback exchange led to a fumble that was recovered by Trey Torticill. The Tritons were forced to settle for a 33-yard field goal from Cole Thompson.
Thompson closed the half with a 41-yard field goal, helping the Tritons cut their deficit to 21-6. Mission Viejo, however, scored 17 unanswered points in the second half to take control.