-Numerically it was not an exceptional season for the Santa Monica High football team -–— four wins and seven losses.
But first-year coach Travis Clark is focusing on the positive developments.
“I think our seniors grew up and became men and our underclassmen learned a lot,” he said. “I put a lot of passion into being the coach and I think we’ll be harder to beat next year.”
Samohi’s season came to a predictable end. As the third place team in the Ocean League the Vikings were given a first round playoff game at Golden League champion Palmdale and absorbed a 45-26 loss.
Samohi took a 7-0 lead, then gave up 34 consecutive points. A second half rally by the Vikings made the game competitive, but when Samohi trailed 38-26 it gave up another touchdown.
“We had one really bad quarter, the second, and it was too much to overcome,” said Clark.
The Ocean League’s top two teams lost too. Culver City was routed by Dominguez, 64-27 and Inglewood lost to Chaminade, 35-14.
Looking ahead to next season, Clark said his philosophy will be to play a tough non-league schedule in order to prepare for the league and the playoffs.
“I hope to play Valencia again,” he said, talking about the Vikings’ best opponent, a team that currently has an 11-0 record.
He says Palisades will again be on the schedule but isn’t sure if Venice will be because there was violence in the neighborhood surrounding this year’s game.
“We’ll have all our running backs and offensive linemen back, so we’re expecting to have a better running game,” he said.
The players who’ll be hardest to replace will be Garrett Safron, Luke Zelon, Keenan Malone, and Mikey Smith.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself and maybe it was unrealistic that I could come in as a first-year coach and we’d win the league,” he said. “But my heart is in the right place.”
Clark lists a league victory over Beverly Hills as a highlight. That one-point victory gave the Vikings a playoff berth.
By contrast there was a one-point loss to Venice, which defeated Santa Monica for the seventh time in the last eight years.
And Santa Monica was unable to prevent Culver City, which also had a new coach, from winning the league for the fourth straight season.