On the final weekend of the regular season schedule, the Santa Monica High football team must defeat a struggling Hawthorne team Friday, November 10 at Corsair Field, then hope the results of other Ocean League games give them a berth in the CIF playoffs.
Santa Monica kept its playoff hopes alive with a 27-7 win over Inglewood Friday, November 3 at Coleman Stadium in Inglewood. Following a smashing 63-35 upset of Culver City the previous week Santa Monica is playing its best football of the season.
However, in one scenario Samohi wouldn’t get one of the league’s three automatic playoff berths and in another the Vikings would finish in a three-way tie for second place. In that case their fate could be decided in a coin flip.
There’s also a wild card berth in each division and it’s possible a fourth Ocean League team could be invited.
“All we can do is win and give ourselves the best chance,” said Coach Zach Cuda.
The games last Friday began with four teams – including Inglewood – sharing first place in the league, Samohi was fifth and Hawthorne sixth. But Samohi took a 27-0 halftime lead against Inglewood.
“I wasn’t happy with our second half but I have to realize we had played six quarters really great in the last two weeks and invested a lot of energy and emotion,” said Cuda.
Samohi went flat in the second half but gave up only one touchdown and advanced to the winning side with its overall record – five wins and four losses.
On the first play of the game Samohi caught the Inglewood defense going one way and struck in the other direction with quarterback Ryan Katz finding Cameron Collins wide open at the beginning of a 55-yard gain.
That set up the game’s first touchdown on a short run by Katz, who has been a superb passer in his two seasons as the Vikings’ quarterback and has added the dimension of his running in recent weeks.
The second touchdown came on a pass from Katz to Geo Allen, the third on a run by Louis Adeyemi and the fourth on a two-yard run by Katz following outstanding receptions by John Dunn and Allen.
Inglewood had a seven-minute scoring drive in the third quarter but couldn’t score again.
The Samohi defense was strong, holding Ocean League rushing leader David Freeman to 53 yards. Max Monbouquette had 11 tackles while Collins and David Naylor each had nine.
Adeyemi was Samohi’s leading ground gainer with 190 yards.
Last season Morningside and Inglewood weren’t factors in the league race but now they are. They play each other Friday night and it would be to Samohi’s advantage if Inglewood wins. If Morningside wins it’s possible it would clinch a playoff berth along with Beverly Hills and Culver City.
Asked how the Samohi players will be motivated to bring their best game against Hawthorne, the only league team without a win, Cuda said: “We see in films that Hawthorne has some good athletes and is still playing with determination. It has been hurt by crucial mistakes, like fumbling the snap at the end of a long drive. We have to play well.
“In addition, it will be Senior Night, which always adds to the environment of the game.”
It wasn’t many years ago when Hawthorne was the league champion, but the team has had numerous problems, including the departure of the coach, who moved to Oregon.
Even if Samohi makes the playoffs it isn’t likely to have a first round playoff game at home, meaning it will have to win on the road to have any more games at Corsair Field in the 2006 season.
The Vikings were in the playoffs in 2004 and 2005 when Mike Burnett was the coach but lost in the first round both times.