A new season, a new quarterback, and a batch of road games await Santa Monica High’s football team, which opens at Leuzinger High Friday night, September 12.
On the two following Friday nights, Coach Zach Cuda’s Vikings will play Westside rivals, again on the road. Samohi will be at Palisades September 19 and at Venice September 26.
The plan is to focus on a running game from the I-formation featuring returnees Vince Lawrence and Christian Ross, while junior Garrett Safron warms up to the task of replacing the highly successful Ryan Katz at quarterback.
Now that Katz is at Oregon State, Safron moves up from the junior varsity, but he won’t be expected to run and pass like Katz did as his talent became increasingly obvious last season. Nonetheless, Safron appears capable of accurately throwing play action passes if defenses load up against the run.
Samohi plays in the Ocean League, while Leuzinger is a member of the Bay League, which is considered stronger.
As Samohi begins with road games while artificial turf is installed at Corsair Field, Cuda and his brother Conrad, the defensive co-ordinator, hope that unit shows improvement. There is optimism the defense is better after it struggled last season.
Samohi was 6-5 last season, but Culver City won the league championship. Both teams have been forecast to do well, but the league’s marquee player appears to be Inglewood High receiver Shaquele Evans. After Evans moved up on recruiting lists last season, USC Coach Pete Carroll and UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel both attended his opening game September 5, which the Sentinels lost.