Santa Monica High School’s non-league football schedule is loaded with Westside opponents this season.
The Vikings defeated Palisades last Friday, 24-14 and will be at Corsair Field this Friday night against Venice. The following Friday, Santa Monica and St. Monica will vie, also at Corsair Field.
“I love it,” said Samohi coach Michael Burnett. “When I was in Virginia, we played the schools closest to us. The fans don’t have to travel, the players have a short ride and everyone knows each other.’’
Samohi is 2-0, with wins over West Torrance and a Palisades team that has lost 11 of its last 12 games. Venice, the Western League champion the last three years, figures to provide stronger competition.
Santa Monica took a 14-0 lead over Palisades, gave up a touchdown but kicked a 37-yard field goal just before halftime, following a long kickoff return by Carlton Fortenberry and 37-yard pass from Ryan Katz to Geo Allen.
A 57-yard touchdown run by sophomore E.J. Woods in the third quarter increased the lead to a comfortable 24-7 before Palisades scored in the final minutes.
Middle linebacker Robert Garcia, a returning all-league player, keyed Samohi’s defense by making 14 tackles. He had missed the opening game with assorted injuries.
“We accomplished what we set out to do in the game,” said Burnett. “We had a physical edge and after a slow start we were pretty much in control.’’
It was the first road game for several new members of the squad.
Katz was 7-for-21 in his second game as a varsity starter for 81 yards. Samohi had strong running performances from Woods, with 116 yards and two touchdowns, and Lewis Adeyemi with 70 yards.
After two games Samohi has two wins, but in Burnett’s words, “hasn’t been spectacular yet.”
There’s plenty of time for that as the team tries to reach the playoffs for the second straight season.
Samohi has a solid running game and an array of outstanding receivers. In time Katz will be asked to do more, but is currently following game plans that have been successful.
Meanwhile, Samohi’s Ocean League opponents are sharpening their games too. Culver City, picked to be one of the league’s title favorites, lost at home Friday to Pt. Loma of San Diego, 21-7.
Like Samohi, Culver has a heralded sophomore quarterback. But Darius Banks, operating out of a shotgun formation on every play, couldn’t produce any points until the final few minutes of the game.
Hawthorne is the defending league champion, fourth place Beverly Hills appears improved, and both Inglewood and Morningside, while figuring as second division teams, have shown sparks of improvement too.Santa Monica’s last CIF championship, in 2001, was won in Division 10. Now competing in Division 4 there are more quality teams among the opponents, but the school has a large population base, a large turnout of players and the ingredients to continue being successful.