The varsity football debuts of two highly-acclaimed sophomore quarterbacks were eagerly awaited this season.
Both showed glimpses of their talent in the early weeks of the season and Friday night both had breakout performances.
Ryan Katz of Santa Monica High threw six touchdown passes in a 54-34 win over Roosevelt. Darius Banks of Culver City also threw six touchdown passes in a 41-7 victory over El Segundo.
Both quarterbacks set school records.
“We’ve been bringing Ryan along slowly,” said Santa Monica Coach Michael Burnett. “This was the first time we asked him to throw a lot. We felt he was ready and we thought we had an advantage on Roosevelt in speed. They’re a little bigger than us and we had a tough, physical game against them last season.”
Katz was 18 of 24 for 276 yards, and he didn’t play in the fourth quarter. Daniel Locke, the Ocean League sprint champion who was moved from running back to wide receiver this season, ran back the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and caught scoring passes of 65 and 45 yards.
One of Katz’ other TD passes went 25 yards to tight end Christoff Neuman.
Santa Monica led 21-0 after one quarter. The previous week Samohi led St. Monica after one quarter, 34-0.
“We play pretty solid defense, so if we get ahead early in a game it’s hard for the opponent to catch up,” said Burnett.
After Samohi scored twice in the first 90 seconds, middle linebacker Robert Garcia recovered a fumble to set up the scoring pass to Neuman. Roosevelt, which features a ball control offense with grinding running plays, was in trouble with a 21-0 deficit.
Despite playing at home, Roosevelt couldn’t cope with Samohi’s speed.
“Locke touched the ball three times and scored three touchdowns,” said Burnett.
With Samohi concentrating on passing, its usually productive running game wasn’t needed. Fullback Chapin Herman was the team’s leading rusher with 64 yards. Starting tailback Lewis Adeyemi, who often leads the way, had only 35.
An interesting Ocean League season is shaping up. Samohi and Culver both have 4-1 records and Beverly Hills hasn’t lost. Then there’s Hawthorne, the defending league champion. It has struggled along with Inglewood and Morningside.
Samohi will open league play Friday night at Inglewood, which plays at Coleman field in that city.
While Burnett chose to break Katz in gradually this season, Culver City coach Tom Salter took the opposite approach with Banks, setting him up in a shotgun offense that calls for 40 passes in a game. Banks threw four touchdown passes the previous week and is likely to smash all school passing records this season.
Burnett says Katz, who is a straight-A student, learns quickly on the football field, too, and has enormous promise.
Katz and Banks competed against each other on their school’s respective freshmen teams. Before playing any varsity games, both were considered likely prospects for major college football.
The CIF rankings in Division 4 favor teams to the north, led by St. Bonaventure. The first five teams are from that area. Samohi has been ranked 10th, then eighth.
“Our league has to prove we can beat those teams in the playoffs to merit a higher ranking,” said Burnett.Both Santa Monica and Culver City lost first round playoff games last season. Hawthorne won only one game.