After Santa Monica High’s football team shut out Venice 28-0 on Friday night, September 26 it was as if a burden had been lifted from the players’ shoulders.
Samohi had lost its annual non-league game to Venice for six straight years, an astonishing reality since no other team had held anything close to an advantage like that against the Vikings.
’I’m particularly happy for our seniors,” said Coach Zach Cuda.
“There was a lot of happiness in our locker room. The players were well aware of the recent history between the teams and many had experienced it.”
Teams guided by Cuda and Michael Burnett hadn’t been able to defeat the Gondoliers. The last Samohi coach with a victory over Venice was present Samohi athletic director Norm Lacy.
But indications were strong that the 2008 Vikings could accomplish the feat. Samohi had won its first two games convincingly and Venice had lost its first three.
The Vikings’ coaching staff made sure the players were well prepared and Samohi came through with a strong defensive effort. In addition, the offensive line played superbly for the third straight game.
“My brother’s defense took Venice out of everything it wanted to do,” said Zach Cuda. “The defense has been phenomenal in all three games.”
Conrad Cuda is the Vikings’ defensive co-ordinator.
Samohi lost the ball by fumbling on its first possession but Venice was held to a field goal try which failed. Samohi then drove 80 yards to a touchdown.
Three minutes before halftime Samohi scored another touchdown. The Vikings then got the ball back and scored again for a 21-0 halftime lead.
Venice finished the game with only 105 yards of offense.
It helped Samohi that Venice was hit hard by graduation. Three stars of last season’s Gondolier team have moved on. Running back Curtis McNeal is at USC and receiver Jerry Johnson at UCLA. Richard Ragland, a three-year starter at quarterback, is also missed.
But Samohi had to overcome some difficulty too. Running back Vince Lawrence has been ruled out for a month with a broken collarbone and Christian Ross, who shares running back duties, didn’t practice much all week due to a leg injury.
Ross was able to play and gained 112 yards on 22 carries. But the starter was senior Cheyenne Jones, who had played other positions last season and this one. He gained 185 yards and scored two touchdowns.
The Vikings’ other touchdown came on a pass from Garrett Safron to Terry Wilson.
“It’s a tribute to our offensive line that in three games we’ve had three different running backs have 100-yard games,” said Cuda.
The blockers are right tackle Amar Pal, right guard Nick Ramicci, center Joe Daou, left guard Rodrigo Hernandez and left tackle Max Klein.
Samohi will face a severe test on Friday night, October 3 in its quest to remain undefeated. It will travel to meet a powerful Long Beach Jordan team.
In an oddity, Samohi’s next two opponents played each other in their last game. A big, fast Long Beach Jordan team won convincingly over Capistrano Valley.
On October 10 Capistrano Valley will be the opponent in Samohi’s home opener, which will be the final non-league game.