Neither sophomore has compiled impressive statistics yet, but the presence of Ryan Katz at Santa Monica High and Darius Banks at Culver City has caught the attention of local media and is likely to stimulate fan interest.
“It’ll be interesting to see how they do the next few years,’’ said Samohi Coach Michael Burnett. “Both have a lot of talent and will bring additional interest to the Ocean League.’’
Burnett has chosen Katz over junior Cameron Collins to be Samohi’s starting quarterback. Last season, Katz played mostly on the freshmen team and threw only five varsity passes late in a one-sided playoff loss. Collins was on the varsity and played occasionally, but senior Kevin Poindexter was the Viking quarterback the majority of the time.
Culver City Coach Tom Salter had other choices but has named Banks the starter despite the youngster’s lack of any varsity experience.
“I’ll always take talent as a very important factor,’’ said Salter. “Even if a player doesn’t have experience. He’ll start at a certain level and improve as we go along.
“We were a ball control team last season but we’re going to play four receivers and be explosive. We’re committed to that plan. We’re looking at the big picture.’’
Burnett gives Katz an edge in passing but says Banks is a superior runner.
Tim Dearn, who worked with Katz last season as coach of the Samohi freshmen team and watched Katz play against Banks on that level, was impressed and forsees both ultimately playing college football.
“I believe they’ll both be Division 1 players,’’ he said.
Last season, Hawthorne won the Ocean League but Santa Monica and Culver City both made the playoffs. In their head-to-head meeting, Culver City edged Santa Monica, 14-13. The teams will meet this season on Oct. 28 at Corsair Field.Hawthorne again figures prominently in pre-season forecasts. Beverly Hills, Inglewood and Morningside made up the second division last season but were competitive in many games.