Santa Monica High’s highly regarded football team met strong resistance early Friday night, September 15, but used a strong second half to defeat Palisades, 42-7.
After defeating Hueneme in its opening game, 40-21, Santa Monica has scored seven touchdowns in each game, even without two of its best players. E.J. Woods has transferred to Crespi High and Cameron Collins is out with a broken hand.
Santa Monica will play at Venice Thursday night, September 21. Venice defeated Santa Monica last season.
Palisades took the opening kickoff and held the ball throughout most of the first quarter, keeping Santa Monica’s defense off balance with a combination of runs and passes. The drive ultimately was halted and Samohi came back to produce the first touchdown of the game. It came on a six-yard run by Louis Adeyemi.
But Palisades went on another long drive and scored early in the second quarter for a 7-7 tie.
Not only had the Dolphins matched the Vikings on the scoreboard, they had matched up physically and given every indication an upset was possible.
It required a 30-yard scoring pass for Samohi to achieve a 14-7 halftime lead. By then, the large crowd had settled into Corsair Field and everyone seemed eager to learn what the second half would bring.
It turned out that Samohi was able to make necessary adjustments and junior Ryan Katz showed why he’s one of the best quarterbacks on the Westside.
Katz threw three more touchdown passes in the second half, sometimes running out of the pocket to let a play develop before finding his receiver.
Two touchdown passes in the third quarter increased the lead to 28-7. Then, when Palisades began to concentrate on Adeyemi’s running, Katz found speedy Geo Allen behind defenders down the right sideline for a 35-yard scoring pass on the first play of the fourth quarter.
With the game under control, it was time for some Samohi reserves to receive playing time, and sophomore Vincent Lawrence scored on a 10-yard run.
Lawrence, who was promoted to the varsity when Woods departed, is playing outside linebacker on defense and learning to back up Adeyemi at running back.
Adeyemi, who has recovered from the effects of an off-season automobile accident, has had two strong games.
So Samohi passed a test in Zach Cuda’s second game as head coach.
Now Samohi will focus on Venice, which scored a touchdown late in last year’s game to earn a 23-17 win over Samohi.
Quarterback Richard Ragland has returned and junior Curtis McNeal has replaced Kenny Ashley as the featured running back for longtime coach Angelo Gasca.
McNeal had 70 rushing yards and three touchdowns in Venice’s opening game against Carson.
Samohi will host St. Monica the following week and is building toward a high-profile game in the fifth week of the season against perennial power Los Alamitos at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach. Then, of course, there’s the Ocean League schedule.
The league is strong this season. Defending champion Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Culver City and Morningside have won all their games.
Culver City, which had lost the last two years to Point Loma, went to San Diego Saturday and defeated the same opponent, 40-13. Point Loma lost only one game last season and reached the finals of its division playoffs.