As the 2009 football season approaches Santa Monica High graduate Ryan Katz is at Oregon State, where he redshirted last season and figures to see some quarterback action this season.
Also, tackle Amar Pal, who anchored the Vikings’ line last season, is a freshman at San Jose State.
The latest in a long line of Samohi players to impress college scouts is Luke Zelon, who’ll be a senior this season and has made a strong impression on new coach Travis Clark just as he did on previous coach Zach Cuda.
“He’s very versatile and he’s a great leader,” said Clark, who recently conducted spring practice.
Zelon is 6-foot-3, 219 pounds and excels on both offense and defense. He’s an outside linebacker, a tight end and an H-back, the guy who lines up in the backfield, goes in motion and either throws a key block or catches a pass.
His grades and SAT score are in order and he has scholarship offers from Washington State and Iowa State, among others. One scout told me Zelon might consider Ivy League schools too.
As Clark takes over the program he’s discovering what Cuda did — that Zelon is a key to the Viking squad.
Zelon made some key receptions in Samohi’s 8-3 season in 2008. I remember one in particular for a long gain when he started from the H-back set and outran defenders, That was late in the season when quarterback Garrett Safron had gained experience and was throwing longer passes rather than just managing the offense.
Starting with the original plan, some players increase their value and become more important and others don’t. Zelon kept developing and improving.
Zelon and Victor Burnett of Culver City are considered the best linebackers in the Ocean League.
Samohi will begin its season September 11 against Leuzinger at Corsair Field. Last season Samohi won at Leuzinger in an upset and began a six-game winning streak.
This time I’ll be watching to see if Safron’s year of experience and improved arm strength make him more effective, if Wylie O’Neal and Keelan Malone stand out as Clark expects and if Zelon’s play remains exceptional.