Drive a little less than 60 miles south of USC, and you will find the small beach town of San Clemente, California — my hometown.Unlike many of the surrounding cities who have multiple high schools, there’s only one in San Clemente, which is perfectly described by the school football team’s motto: one town, one team.Come Saturday, though, this one town will be represented by players on two opposing teams.Utah senior quarterback Travis Wilson hopes to march into the Coliseum on game day and get his first ever win back home in Southern California, while taking the No. 3-ranked Utes to 7-0.On the other side of the ball, a trio of former San Clemente Tritons including redshirt junior wide receiver Christian Tober, freshman quarterback Sam Darnold and freshman walk-on wide receiver Jake Russell, and the Trojans will attempt to spoil Wilson’s homecoming in a game they desperately need to keep their season alive.Wilson and Tober, who was recently awarded a scholarship, along with Stanford offensive lineman Kyle Murphy and Oregon State offensive lineman Sean Harlow, were teammates on the San Clemente team that reached the CIF-SS Pac-5 Championship game in 2011.The younger generation in Darnold and Russell continued the tradition of San Clemente players going on to play in the Pac-12, which currently has six in the conference.In proper fashion, USC and Utah match up during friends and family weekend in a game that carries more than just Pac-12 South implications — for these San Clemente natives, bragging rights are on the line.One of USC’s priorities has to be trying to stop a dual-threat in Wilson, who helped lead a game-winning drive to overcome the Trojans in Salt Lake City last year.Standing at 6-foot-7, Wilson is probably one of the greatest athletes to ever come out of our city of about 65,000. Growing up alongside side Wilson and playing on a couple of youth sports teams with him over the years, I always knew that Wilson would make an incredible athlete one day.I just hoped it would never come against a team in which I had ties to — wishful thinking, I guess.USC’s secret weapon against Utah might very well be a player that doesn’t even see the field this Saturday in Sam Darnold, who is probably the closest thing the Trojans have to Wilson. He’s got an arm, is large in stature and can do a lot of damage with his feet.Darnold, who was a freshman in high school when Wilson was a senior, is following in his footsteps — on track to continue the lineage of former San Clemente quarterbacks to start in the Pac-12. However, before he takes his first snaps under center in a game, he was given the task of simulating his elder in the Utes read-option offense.USC coaches employed Darnold, a highly touted recruit out of high school, as the scout team quarterback against the USC first team defense.San Clemente head football coach Jaime Ortiz said that it is so awesome to see Darnold living his dream at USC, while watching Wilson help Utah become a force to be reckoned with on the national stage.When Wilson originally committed to Utah, he told Ortiz that he wanted to make the Utes a national contender before it was all said and done, and he has done exactly that in his senior year.In the process, he has also inspired a new recruiting pipeline in his home town with two San Clemente players already committed to play for the Utes. High school seniors Cole Fotheringham and Tucker Scott will try to build on the success that Wilson established, while class of 2017 quarterback Jack Sears has been extended an offer by the program.Utah also intrigued a lot of interest in Darnold before he decided to commit to the Trojans.Conversely, Wilson was never offered by USC and enrolled early at Utah in the spring of 2012, in which the Utes were coming off just their first season as a Pac-12 school. Just four years later, he has the Utes at the national forefront.Wilson has overcome a lot to get to where he is today — the passing of a close friend in former UCLA player Nick Pasquale — and an almost career-ending brain injury.In Wilson’s homecoming, the only thing standing in his way of a Pac-12 south crown now is the Trojans.Darian Nourian is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism. He is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Persian Persuasion,” runs Fridays.
Trevor Sochocki | Daily TrojanTaming the Cats · Junior setter Nikki Leonard (left) and senior libero Taylor Whittingham (right) and the Women of Troy prepare for Arizona.No. 22 USC women’s volleyball hosts Arizona tonight for their second match of the week. The Women of Troy are coming off of a solid four-set victory against Arizona State, while the Wildcats have their first of two Los Angeles matches starting with USC. On Wednesday night against the Sun Devils, USC (11-5, 3-2 Pac-12) picked up its 1,000th program win. They’re one of only 17 Division 1 programs in the NCAA to reach that mark. It’s another milestone for head coach Mick Haley, who has led the Women of Troy to their 600th, 700th, 800th and 900th wins as well. Freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier led the team’s four-set victory with a career-high 22 kills. “I have to realize even if I’m a freshman, I have a big impact,” Lanier said. “I just want to do whatever I can for my team at the end of the day.”She also notched her eighth double-double of the season along with an ace and a block. “That’s kind of been a theme on all teams that I played on,” Lanier said. Lanier joked that her club coaches used to tell her, “If we lose, it’s your fault.” Haley laughed, tapping her on the shoulder saying, “maybe I’ll try that.”Lanier was joined by junior opposite Niki Withers and sophomore outside hitter Alyse Ford in the double-digit kill club. Each of them put up 12 kills. This strong offense is something that will carry the Women of Troy through their grueling Pac-12 schedule. Strong offensive play comes from good passing, something that senior libero and captain Taylor Whittingham brings to the team. “She’s our captain, she’s consistent and we want to have her in there,” Haley said. “Even if it’s on one leg.”While Whittingham stabilizes the Women of Troy’s defense, she also brings a mature presence to her teammates on the court. “I really pride myself on being a calming force out there,” Whittingham said. “Anyway that I can help others and they can help me in return is something that’s important.”As they prep for the Wildcats (10-6, 2-2 Pac-12), Haley wants to see his team continue to improve. Since day one this season, they’re a team that’s been getting better through each match for the most part. They’ve had some hiccups here and there, but minor ones. “I think now they’re starting to get their confidence,” Haley said. “We just need to be a little bit more consistent in our offensive execution and a little bit better in defense.”To limit Arizona, USC will have to find a way to stop sophomore outside hitter Kendra Dahlke. She leads the Wildcats with 204 kills, averaging 4.08 kills per set. To put that in comparison, Lanier has 229 kills on the season and averages 3.88 kills per set. In terms of defense, Haley would like to see continued improvement from the middle backs. Against Colorado, the team tallied up 89 digs. Against Arizona State, they only had 61. With the drop off, Haley wants to see more of an effort from his middle backs in order to continue their offensive production. “[Whittingham], the two middle backs and the setters were digging a lot of balls,” Haley said. “Colorado was a great performance.”When USC gets more digs, they get more swings on offense. When they get more swings than their opponents, USC will usually win the match. “That transition game is the next level for us,” Haley said. “That starts with defense both at the net and then the backcourt.”The Women of Troy will look to move to 4-2 in the conference with a win against Arizona. The match will start at 7 p.m. at the Galen Center.
The Costa Rican government paid homage to the Costa Rican national surfsele at Casa Presidencial this week.The team won the overall gold medal in the International Surfing Association (ISA) 2015 World Surfing Games held at Playa Popoyo, Nicaragua in June.Surfers Jason Torres, Noe Mar McGonagle, Carlos Muñoz (left to right in photo) and team coach Wade Sharp (far right) shared a moment with president Luis Guillermo Solís. Not in the picture, Lisbeth Vindas, Leilani McGonagle and Anthony Fillingim also participated in the activity.Noe Mar McGonagle won the masculine Open Division at the 2015 surfing games while his sister Leilani, was second in the feminine Open Division. Facebook Comments Related posts:World champ surfers keep doing their thing at kölbi 2015 Nat’l Surf Circuit in Nosara Jacó’s Jason Torres tallies 1st Costa Rican national surf championship win Jason Torres: From bad boy to national surfing champ Puerto Viejo native Gilbert Brown wins Latin Pro surf competition in ALAS debut