After losing four of its first five football games Santa Monica High not only won on Friday night but looked good in taking a 34-7 before holding on to defeat Morningside, 34-21 at Corsair Field.
But now come more stringent Ocean League tests against Beverly Hills and Culver City, the Vikings’ two strongest league opponents in recent years, and both games will be on the road.
Santa Monica travels to Beverly Hills Friday night, and then goes to three-time champion Culver City on October 29.
“Culver City should be the favorite again,” said Samohi coach Travis Clark. “Even though Tom Salter retired after 10 outstanding years, the Centaurs are running the same stuff and scoring a lot of points.”
Jahmal Wright, the new Culver City head coach, was an assistant to Salter most of those years.
First, Santa Monica will try to keep some momentum going against Beverly Hills.
In handing Morningside its fifth loss in six games, the Vikings depended more on quarterback Garrett Safron, who threw an early touchdown pass to Chris Festherstone and then kept the visitors off balance with passes to Luke Zelon and Mikey Smith.
The running game improved with sophomores Donovan Citrowski and Kori Garcia featured and in the second half junior Brandon Taylor had several carries. Taylor had been demoted after fumbling five times in the first four games.
Samohi built a 27-7 lead before Garcia, playing linebacker, scooped up a fumble and ran 35 yards for another touchdown.
Clark wasn’t happy when Morningside ran its total offense number to 270 with two touchdowns late in the game. That’s a lot of yards for the Vikings to surrender to one of the league’s second division teams.
Beverly Hills, which is 3-3 overall, began Ocean League play with a 35-13 victory over a struggling Hawthorne team.
Culver City, 5-1 overall with the lone loss coming against LA City Section powerhouse Crenshaw, won its Ocean League opener over Inglewood, 55-44.
Last season Samohi won its first six games, and then lost at home to both Beverly Hills and Culver City. The Vikings finished 8-3, the only other defeat coming in the CIF playoffs.