Santa Monica High will begin its bid for an Ocean League football championship – or at least a playoff berth – Friday night, October 13, against Morningside High at Coleman Stadium in Inglewood.
Three teams from the league are expected to qualify for the playoffs. That was the case last year when Santa Monica and Culver City were selected along with league champion Beverly Hills.
The task could be more difficult this time, as second tier teams Inglewood and Morningside have improved. Inglewood won all of its non-league games and Morningside has lost only once.
Santa Monica completed the non-league portion of its schedule with a 35-0 loss to Los Alamitos Thursday, October 5, at Veteran’s Stadium in Long Beach. When the season began, Santa Monica figured to be more competitive against the perennial power. However, E.J. Woods transferred to Crespi High and Louis Adeyemi broke a hand, leaving the Vikings without one of the strengths of the team – a strong running game.
Los Alamitos was able to drop two linebackers into pass coverage and limited Viking quarterback Ryan Katz to eight completions in 15 attempts for 53 yards.
Sophomore Vincent Lawrence, thrust into a starting job at running back, distinguished himself well by gaining 60 yards.
“As a sophomore put in that position he did very well,” said Samohi Coach Zach Cuda. “The experience will do him a lot of good.”
Samohi’s record is 3-2, with the other loss coming against Venice. Cuda was especially impressed with Los Alamitos, which is coached by John Barnes, a legend in the Southern California high school ranks.
“The speed and intensity of the Los Alamitos team were things we haven’t seen before,” said Cuda. “That team was big and fast, much better than what we had seen.”
It’s all relative. Los Alamitos has lost to Orange Lutheran, which has a huge offensive line and a quarterback who has committed to USC.
As strong as Los Alamitos was, Samohi hurt itself with mistakes. Los Alamitos scored 28 points off turnovers.
“We fumbled inside our 20, then had an interception,” said Cuda. “We had a drive that reached their 30, then stalled. They drove from there to a touchdown, the only long drive they had against us.”
Los Alamitos led, 21-0 at halftime.
Santa Monica entered the game averaging 41 points, which caught Los Alamitos’ attention.
“They were rolling up points on some decent teams,” said Barnes.
Cuda expects that his team will have a better idea of its task when the teams play again next season. The non-league contest is scheduled for Corsair Field in the fifth week of the season.
But now the attention turns to the Ocean League race. After having a rare Thursday night game, the Santa Monica coaching staff scouted Culver City Friday night, October 6, in their 45-35 win over Redondo.
Culver City has a 5-0 record, and that was their closest game. In meetings against the league’s highest-rated teams, Santa Monica will be at home against both Culver City and Beverly Hills.