San Clemente's Darnold working toward return


Sam Darnold’s recovery from a broken left foot is going faster than he or his doctor expected.

The San Clemente junior, who was injured early in the football season, is anticipating a return to game action on the basketball court around Christmas time, a few weeks earlier than the initial projection.

“I guess I’m just a freak healer,” Darnold said. “That’s what my doctor said.”

Darnold was San Clemente’s starting quarterback and is the defending Sea View League MVP in basketball. He broke his foot during a San Clemente loss to Dana Hills on Sept. 12 and missed the rest of the football season. The Tritons did not win a game after his injury, finishing 2-8.

Darnold averaged 13 points per game for the Tritons last year, who won their first league title since 1975.

Even with a protective boot on his foot, Darnold was still able to stand and knock down 3-pointers and has been at every practice, San Clemente coach Marc Popovich said. Darnold had the boot removed last Monday and said his doctor told him the best thing he can do now is “just walk around.”

In the long run, the time without Darnold will help the Tritons develop more depth, Popovich said. But San Clemente will have to start its season down both Darnold and point guard Gage Shelmidine, a transfer from Saddleback Valley Christian who must sit out until Jan. 7.

San Clemente begins its season at the Diablo Inferno Tournament on Dec. 2.

"It does affect the start of our season," Popovich said. "Obviously not having (Darnold) is going to hurt, there's no way you're going to get around that."

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