Offers roll in, but San Clemente's Sears stays focused
The OCVarsity Blitz crew was at San Clemente High on Wednesday as the Tritons started practice for the 2016 season ...
SAN CLEMENTE - San Clemente football has churned out a string of quarterbacks who received college scholarships in recent years.
Jack Sears will be adding his name to the list after this season.
Sears, a senior, has 21 scholarship offers, but for now he is keeping his attention on helping the Tritons win games in 2016.
“Getting recruited was a big goal of mine, but I have another season to get through," Sears said Wednesday. "This is my family, these are my coaches, and I’m excited to be competitive and continue the success we have been having."
In 2015, Sears completed 71 percent of his passes and threw 37 touchdown passes with just two interceptions. Coach Jaime Ortiz called it an oustanding effort considering the pressure Sears faced by following Sam Darnold, who is now at USC.
"My advice to him was not to try to be Sam Darnold but to be himself," Ortiz said. "He's done a great job representing our school and our community. He's a leader and makes everybody around him better."
Brandon Reaves will likely be Sears’ No. 1 weapon this season. Reaves had 2,142 all-purpose yards in 2015.
The senior attributed some of his success to Sears.
“It’s so awesome playing with him. All of his passes are on point,” Reaves said.
TIME TO RELOAD
The Tritons are looking for ways to replace two of the top skill players - Cole Fotheringham and Sea View League MVP Vlad Dzhabiyev - on last year's team.
“I don’t know if you can replace those guys, they were a vital part of the program," Ortiz said. "Our philosophy is ‘next man up,’ and Reaves is one of the most explosive players in the county.”
The Tritons are confident they have the players to get the job done.
“We are going to surprise people, we have a lot of weapons,” Sears said.
Chase Berman, Austin Whitsett and Keith Jones saw a lot of playing time at receiver as sophomores last season. All three are expected to have expanded roles this season.
“Isaac (Rex) is a big body and runs good routes, and Chris (Kane) is a hybrid type," Sears said. "We are all excited to see what they can do.”
The Tritons return to the South Coast League this season after two years - and winning two league titles - in the Sea View League.
“We will go wherever they tell us to go," Ortiz said. "Last year’s senior class did a great job bringing this program back to where it belongs. It’s up to these guys to take the next step and paint the picture of how they want their 2016 season to be.”
San Clemente won its league games by an average of 44 points in 2015. They were 0-2 against South Coast League teams, losing to San Juan Hills and Tesoro.
"We know we belong with these teams, and us getting moved up reassured that," Sears said. "The way we have been training this offseason and preparing now is nice to see, and we are going to be ready.”
“We are an experienced team," Rex added. "We have played some of these teams before and I think we will hold up just fine.”
ONE TOWN, ONE TEAM
Since the passing of former Tritons player Nick Pasquale in 2013, San Clemente has used the mantra “One Town, One Team.”
The slogan is on the players' shirts and displayed all over Thalassa Stadium.
“We tell the kids, it isn’t a slogan, it’s a way of life," Ortiz said. "All of these kids know who Nick is and what the family represents. We are such a tight knit community here, it’s a real family environment.”
Pasquale’s father, Mel, is San Clemente's director of football operations.
Ortiz reminds the program's players about the example the Pasquale family has set.
“I make a point to talk about Nick every single year," Ortiz said. "Everywhere you go here, from the coaches office to the team room, Nick is with us and the players really understand that.”