It isn’t often that a football coach will reveal his game plan to the media, execute it exactly as he said, and see it work to perfection.
But that’s what happened when Santa Monica High’s Zach Cuda said the Vikings will feature runs between the tackles this season from the I-formation and then watched his team rush for 275 yards in an opening game 31-6 non-league victory over host Leuzinger on Friday night, September 12.
Samohi took charge from the outset and wasn’t challenged as tailback Vince Lawrence gained 230 yards on 22 carries and scored a touchdown on an 82-yard run, and fullback Drew Hammond added 55 on seven attempts and scored two touchdowns.
Lawrence played the majority of the game in the absence of Christian Ross, who normally shares the position. Ross was suspended for one game in a disciplinary decision but is expected back for Samohi’s game at Palisades Friday night, September 19.
Equally impressive was the Samohi defense, which appears significantly better than a year ago.
“Leuzinger wanted to spread us out, but our players were solid and we consistently had several tacklers around the ball carrier,” said Cuda.
The coach praised defensive backs Terry Wilson and Jackson Knox for preventing receivers from getting behind them. He said they also came up to make tackles.
Linebacker Luke Zelon and defensive end Brennan Erbeznik also drew praise.
Bay League member Leuzinger, who reached the CIF playoffs last season and lost a close game to Ocean League champion Culver City, was held to 69 yards of total offense.
As for revealing his game plan, Cuda said, “We won’t surprise anyone this season.”
However, he also said junior quarterback Garrett Safron did a nice job of managing the plan in his first varsity start.
Safron replaced star Viking Ryan Katz, who is now at Oregon State. Katz was featured as both a passer and runner for Samohi last season.
Safron completed five of nine passes for 45 yards and one touchdown.
Palisades will also enter Friday’s game with a 1-0 record after winning its opener over Hollywood High. In last year’s meeting Samohi defeated Palisades, 35-0.
The game will played on Palisades’ FieldTurf, the same surface that is being installed at Corsair Field, where Samohi plays its home games.“It will be an opportunity for our players to play on the same surface we’ll have for most of the season,” said Cuda.