Even a homecoming narrow defeat last Friday may not knock Santa Monica High’s football team out of the CIF playoffs.
Despite a 19-18 loss to Inglewood at Corsair Field the Vikings are in position to secure the Ocean League’s third playoff slot with a victory at winless Hawthorne this Friday night.
Samohi, 3-6 overall, has two league losses. Culver City is first and Inglewood second, but Samohi holds a win over Beverly Hills, the other challenger.
Should the Vikings earn a berth they would play on the road in the first round. As a third place team they wouldn’t have any leverage.
But Coach Travis Clark believes a playoff game would be a good experience for the players. And in contrast to Clark’s disappointment with the team’s approach to its game at Culver City, a one-sided loss, he was pleased this time.
“Inglewood is extremely athletic and our game plan was to keep its athletes off the field, by controlling the ball,” he said. “For the most part we did.
“We played a great game and it was a wonderful high school football game. But after we led, 18-12, they scored and made the extra point. Then we had a drive going but had a sack and a penalty and we punted at midfield. We wanted to get the ball back one more time but didn’t.”
Clark praised sophomore Kori Garcia, who carried the ball 15 times for 78 yards. Garia returned from a one-game suspension for throwing a punch in a game.
The coach also praised Mikey Smith, who had an interception at the goal line to prevent a touchdown.
“He’s had a fabulous season,” said Clark.
But the Vikings margin of defeat in their’ sixth loss in nine games was two missed extra points. Kicker Jake Schmidt made a 40-yard field goal to tie the game at halftime, but one of his extra point kicks was wide.
Last season Samohi won at Inglewood. That was an important victory because the Vikings had lost home games the previous week to Culver City and Beverly Hills
This time, playing at home, Samohi hoped to wrap up second place. Instead, it will face the playoff uncertainty all borderline teams do.
Whatever the outcome, Clark lists Garcia, Donovan Citrowski and Dylan Muskat as sophomores who are gaining valuable experience this season.
And he continually praises the leadership of quarterback Garrett Safron and excellent play of Luke Zelon.
Then there’s the offensive line, comprised of inexperienced players who’ve encountered numerous injuries.
“They’re all injured but they gave us a great effort,” he said.