SBLive is previewing the Top 50 high school football teams in California ahead of the 2022 season. Here’s an inside look at the Murrieta Valley Nighthawks of the CIF Southern Section, the No. 42 team in our countdown.
MURRIETA VALLEY TEAM PAGE | 2022 FALL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
- 9th season as Murrieta Valley head coach
- Overall record: 51-31
- Three Southwestern League titles
2021-22 AT A GLANCE
- Overall record: 7-4
- League record: 5-0 (1st in Southwestern League)
- Made CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs
All games are at 7 p.m. unless noted otherwise
- Aug. 18 @ El Modena (SCRIMMAGE)
- Aug. 26 vs. Great Oak
- Sep. 2 @ Apple Valley
- Sep. 9 vs. Murrieta Mesa
- Sep. 16 @ M.L. King
- Sep. 23 vs. San Clemente
- Sep. 30 @ Roosevelt
- Oct. 7 vs. Norco
- Oct. 14 @ Chaparral
- Oct. 21 @ Corona Centennial
- Oct. 27 vs. Vista Murrieta – 7:30 p.m.
ALL-SOUTHWESTERN LEAGUE PLAYERS DEPARTED
- QB Brandon Rose – Most Valuable Player
- OL Jake Steele – Lineman of the Year
- WR Tayven Lamprey – First Team
- OL Calvin Ampudia – First Team
- SS Colby Lotts – First Team
- K/P Noah Serna – Kicker/Punter of the Year
- FB Teegan Cardwell – Second Team
- FS Daniel Romo – Second Team
PLAYERS TO WATCH
WR Tiger Bachmeier – SR.
The 4-star Stanford commit enters his senior year as the reigning Southwestern League Offensive Player of the Year and one of the best receivers in the state. Bachmeier caught for 1,426 yards and 16 touchdowns in 11 games last season, and totaled 1,646 all-purpose yards.
OL Jason Steele – SR.
Steele is a 3-star Boise State commit and First Team All-League member.
QB Bear Bachmeier – SO.
After a strong offseason, look out for Bachmeier as one of the top breakout candidates in SoCal in his first year as a starter. He completed six of seven passes last year as the Nighthawks’ QB2, and holds offers from Michigan and Boise State.
Coach Wilson: “Bear is a national recruit. He would’ve started for us as a freshman if we did not already have [Brandon Rose]. We are very confident in him having a huge year.”
LB Gabe Serna – SR.
Serna led Murrieta Valley with 102 tackles last season and was named First Team All-Southwestern League.
DL Kam Davenport – SR.
Davenport led the Nighthawks with 11 tackles for loss, five sacks, and nine QB-hurries to go with 59 tackles. He made First Team All-League.
CB Curtis Kemp – JR.
Another reigning first teamer, Kemp recorded 55 tackles, a pick, and a team-high six pass break-ups as a sophomore.
RB Travis Karg – SR.
Karg led the Nighthawks in all rushing categories as a junior: carries (125), yards (796), touchdowns (11), and yards per carry (6.4). He made First Team All-League.
RB Asa Chatman – JR.
Chatman was Murrieta Valley’s RB2 and an all-league second teamer.
RB/WR Stephen Stiles – SO.
Stiles didn’t get varsity action but is expected to emerge as one of Murrieta Valley’s top options this season. He has four D-1 offers, Power-5 included, and can both run and catch the ball at a high level.
CB Devin Hoze – JR.
Hoze made Second Team All-League last season and led the team with two interceptions.
WR JT Saenz – SR.
Saenz returns as an incumbent Second Team All-League member and the Nighthawks’ third-leading receiver.
DE Toetu Faoliu – JR.
Foaliu earned Second Team honors with 37 tackles, nine TFLs, and three sacks.
TE Brandon Gilbert – SO.
Gilbert made Second Team as just a freshman with six catches for 93 yards.
DT Gio Monge – SO.
Monge was also named Second Team All-Southwestern League as just a freshman.
LB Ethan Adams – SO.
Adams registered 36 tackles, two TFLs, and a sack in six games as a freshman, and was subsequently offered at the D-1 level.
When teams are described as having a nice mix of experienced upperclassmen and hungry underclassmen, this is what it looks like. With some top-end talent ready to go on offense and a laundry list of other impact returners, the Nighthawks could be in the hunt for a league title and a CIFSS Division 2 playoff run.
Murrieta Valley is one of only a small handful of teams in California that could replace one of the state’s best senior QBs (Brandon Rose, now at Utah) with a sophomore and not expect a big drop-off as a result.
That’s largely because blue chip 2025 Bear Bachmeier is ready to burst out as a star at the varsity level. And also because they have a track record of doing just that under their current coaching staff. Rose took over as a sophomore for none other than 4-star Boise State QB Hank Bachmeier in 2019 and hit the ground running, helping Murrieta Valley continue the growth path it was on without any hiccups. It also doesn’t hurt that Bear’s top target, Tiger Bachmeier, is both of the state’s best receivers and his own brother too.
The Nighthawks also lose a 1000-yard receiver in Tayven Lamprey and multiple impact O-linemen including Jake Steele, who’s now at San Jose State. But otherwise, the offense will be packed with all-league returners, including RBs Travis Karg and Asa Chatman, Boise State commit Jason Steele at OL, TE Brandon Gilbert, and WR JT Saenz. And rising sophomore RB/WR Stephen Stiles, who has four D-1 offers, could end up having the biggest season of that bunch. If their new signal caller is as good as advertised – which we expect him to be – the Nighthawks offense could be even more dynamic than in the last couple years.
Additionally, 2022 could bring Murrieta Valley’s best defense in a while, particularly up front. Leading tackler LB Gabe Serna is one of a handful of returning all-league members in the front seven, and the Nighthawks also return all-league CBs Curtis Kemp and Devin Hoze.
With a lot of underclassmen needing big to have big years in order for the Nighthawks to keep improving, it’s hard to say exactly where their ceiling is. But if there’s a substantial amount of growth from returners and first-time varsity starters, that ceiling is quite high.
MOST REALISTIC SCENARIO
With so much talent returning across the field, Murrieta Valley is a safe bet to be very good. How far will very good get you against the other top teams in the Inland Empire?
The new league system – The Big West (Upper Division) – means conference titles and winning slates of league play are now exponentially harder. MVHS’ league goes through one of the better teams in the entire country in Corona Centennial, plus incumbent Division 1 playoff team Norco – which Murrieta Valley played down to one point last season – in addition to D3 semifinalist Roosevelt. And that’s before considering the Nighthawks’ usual main league foe, Vista Murrieta. Every single week of league play will be a grind, even more than usual.
Nonetheless, expect the Nighthawks to remain a tough out in league play and in a high CIFSS playoff division. Even if they fall out of Division 2 as a result of their brutal schedule, they’d still have the pieces to potentially go on a big playoff run.
“We are excited about the new league structure. We have already been playing these teams in the preseason (in previous seasons) so we have some fun rivalries.”
“We are very confident in Bear having a huge year. We had a very talented lower levels last year. Every season we expect to compete for a league title and make a playoff run.”
–Head coach George Wilson