Santa Monica High football Coach Zach Cuda likes a balanced attack and believes a strong running game will be important to the team’s success this season.
But he couldn’t resist the urge to open the 2007 season Friday night, September 7 with an aerial blitz, and it led to a 46-21 victory over Hueneme High at Corsair Field.
There were two factors that determined the game plan. Fitst, the summer improvement of senior quarterback Ryan Katz, who has developed the ability to accurately throw a deep, out pass – a weapon seldom seen in high school football. And second, Samohi’s realization after scouting Hueneme’s opening game 17-6 win over Santa Clara that the team favored man-to-man pass coverage.
So Samohi intended to make major use of a spread formation and saw no reason to change after an early fumble led to a 6-0 deficit.
Katz’s passes opened up a 21-6 lead in the first quarter and the outcome was determined.
Katz, who recently committed to attend Oregon State, finished with 11 completions in 23 attempts for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 46 yards.
Speedy John Dunn caught seven for 122 yards and two touchdowns and Isai Carillo had three receptions for 47 yards.
On a night when Samohi didn’t spend much time in its I-formation, tailback Vince Lawrence managed to rush for 64 yards. He scored three touchdowns on short runs and had a 40-yard gain that was called back because of a penalty.
Samohi won at Hueneme in its 2006 opener, 49-28, and although the scores were similar Cuda thought the Vikings’ defense was much better this time.
“Two of their three touchdowns came after we fumbled the ball away, once on our eight and the other time on our 12,” he said. “They only had one long drive for a touchdown.”
In addition, Samohi intercepted five passes. Three were by Christian Ross, who is replacing Cameron Collins at safety. The talented Collins is now at Oregon State.
Cuda said middle linebacker Max Monbouquette was solid, as usual, and he praised 6-foot-4 defensive end Ron Austin, who arrived late last season from New Jersey and practiced with the Vikings but didn’t play.
“He was a force on defense,” said Cuda.
Another newcomer to the varsity who played a role in the win was Luke Zelon, listed as a tight end but employed as a wide receiver in the spread offense. He’s up from the junior varsity, where he starred.
It must be pointed out that Samohi was enthused with its opening game victory over Hueneme a year ago but went only 5-4 the rest of the season.
But the start was again encouraging, and no other Ocean League team fared as well.
Culver City had to rally to avoid a home defeat in a 17-14 win over St. Bernard. Beverly Hills was held to a 15-15 tie by Palos Verdes and Morningside lost to Centennial, 22-10.
Last season those were the three Ocean League teams who qualified for the CIF playoffs when Samohi didn’t.
For its next game, Santa Monica will face a Palisades High team with a new coach. Kelly Loftus is in his first season and has a young squad with considerable speed and several outstanding individuals.
Palisades had a 6-6 tie with Washington in a scrimmage and opened its season September 7 with a 20-6 win at Hollywood.
Santa Monica will then play an eagerly awaited game against Venice September 21. Venice has defeated Samohi each of the last four years.