After two games, Santa Monica High’s football team, in the opinion of Coach Zach Cuda, is ahead of last season.
A 35-0 thrashing of Palisades High Friday night, September 14 left the Vikings with a 2-0 record going into a major test this Friday against Venice.
“Unlike our win over Palisades a year ago, we didn’t make mental mistakes this time,” said Cuda. “Our defense, led by [linebacker] Max Monbouquette and [nose tackle] Billy Arnold, was solid.”
The game against Venice won’t count in the Ocean League standings, but because of the geographical reality it’s very important,” said Cuda.
Venice has defeated Santa Monica each of the last four years.
Palisades, like Venice, is a member of the Western League. The Dolphins had showed offensive capabilities in an opening game 21-6 win over Hollywood, but didn’t pose much of a threat against Samohi.
After Adi Adeyami’s 45-yard interception return for a touchdown shortly before halftime gave Samohi a 28-0 intermission lead Palisades didn’t attempt a pass in the second half.
So it wasn’t necessary for either Samohi quarterback Ryan Katz or backup Garret Sasgron to pass in the second half.
Sasgron was recently brought up from the junior varsity after throwing four touchdown passes in two JV games. Cuda would have liked to have seen what he could do on the varsity level but had the sophomore merely hand off for short gains with the outcome decided.
“Passing at that stage of the game wouldn’t have been very classy,” he explained.
Samohi began the game by faltering on its first drive and punting. But the Vikings scored a touchdown on their next five possessions.
Christian Ross, a versatile 170-pound player who excels as a defensive back and is Samohi’s top reserve at tailback and fullback, scored the first touchdown on a pass from Katz.
Fullback Herb Johnson scored the second one, starting tailback Vince Lawrence the third, Adeyemi’s interception the fourth and a run by Ross the fifth.
For the second straight year, Samohi has found a kicker from the baseball team.
Last year it was outfielder Dylan Early, who joined the football squad to fill a need. But Early suffered a back injury against Venice, ending his brief football career.
Alex Kovacs, a reserve catcher in baseball, took over the place-kicking and Katz did the punting. This season Kovacs is doing all the kicking and displaying a strong leg.
After failing to make the playoffs last season, Santa Monica has looked the strongest of the Ocean League teams in the first few weeks of this season.
Culver City barely got past St. Bernard in its opener, 17-14, then had to hold off a furious rally to win its second game. Culver City defeated Point Loma, 54-35, but needed an interception to halt a drive when it had a 41-35 lead.
Beverly Hills is off to a surprising 0-2-1 start following a loss last weekend in Santa Barbara.
The game against Venice will begin a difficult three-week non-league stretch for Santa Monica, the other two being against Long Beach Jordan and Los Alamitos.
All three games will be played at Corsair Field. Then the Ocean League games will begin, with three playoff berths at stake.