One reason for optimism about Santa Monica High’s upcoming football season is an improved defense.
At times last season a Viking substitution would be made and the opponent could see how the Vikings were going to confront the next play. Often, that knowledge proved to be a major advantage for the opponent.
But in summer workouts defensive coordinator Conrad Cuda could see that the personnel was now suited to changing the defensive focus without requiring a substitution.
Head coach Zach Cuda, Conrad’s brother, agrees that the versatility should work in Samohi’s favor.
The Vikings were 6-5 last season. They made the CIF playoffs but lost in the first round. If Samohi is to do better now the defense must improve in the area of stopping rallies
“We have some important returnees and some interesting newcomers on defense,” said Zach Cuda.
A key loss is middle linebacker Max Monbouquette, who made 20 tackles in one game and consistently lived up to his all-league status. Monbouquette took his skills to Middlebury College in Vermont.
But the defense appears to have improved depth.
Some players fit prominently on offense too, but with a few more now available both units should have enough quality personnel.
Drew Hammond is an important linebacker but may spend considerable time at fullback. Luke Zelon is good either way and now figures as a prominent linebacker.
Terry Wilson can catch passes and is an experienced defensive back.
There are some new names to learn.
Start with Tom Malone and Wylie O’Neill. Then there’s Jared Onouye, Jackson Knox and Leo Mancini.
The Cuda brothers are anxious to watch all-league Amar Pal (6-foot-5, 270), and so are Pac-10 Conference scouts His size and ability make him special.
College scouts also are impressed with 6-foot-7 end Brennan Erbeznik.
Nose tackle Joe Daou is a junior who started eight games last seasom. Nick Rimicci is also experienced
Wilson and Christian Ross are leaders in the defensive backfield.
Last season Samohi had a college-caliber quarterback in Ryan Katz but lost games because it couldn’t stop the opponent – the biggest one being a 30-27 loss to Culver City to determine the league champion.
Katz is now at Oregon State, but a stingy defense could help reverse some of last season’s close defeats.
Last season Samohi began with a batch of home games. The schedule is the opposite this time with a month of road games at the start.
If Samohi can establish its defense on the road it can achieve the confidence necessary to make a strong showing in the Ocean League.