Santa Monica High will begin its football season Friday night against Leuzinger with the advantage of having Jake Schmidt as its kicker.
Schmidt, who punts and kicks extra points, was second team all-CIF last year as a junior.
“Having a kicker of that caliber is a luxury for a high school team,” said new Samohi coach Travis Clark. “He’s a college-caliber kicker.”
By contrast, Leuzinger lost its’ season-opening game at Hamilton on Friday, 21-20, largely because it struggled with the kicking game. And near the finish, when Leuzinger was in range to win with a field goal, it didn’t try one, instead throwing a pass that was incomplete.
The game Friday night at Corsair Field is a rematch of the teams’ 2008 opener which Samohi won at Leuzinger.
But Clark is not overconfident. He says Leuzinger might have better athletes than Samohi.
“The key last year was getting ahead early,” he said. ’Leuzinger is big and physical, but the game becomes harder when a team falls behind.”
Samohi pounded Leuzinger with a running game last year, but with the key runners having graduated, the Vikings may rely more on Garrett Safron’s passing now.
And Clark hopes for a major advantage in special teams.
Samohi had a heavy road schedule early last season when Field Turf was being installed at Corsair Field. It’s the opposite now with the first three games scheduled at home. Palisades and Venice will be the next two opponents.
Samohi finished 8-3 last season, including a first round CIF playoff loss to Warren High of Downey.
If Safron is on target, two key receivers will be Luke Zelon and Chris Featherstone.