2020 was a tough year for Santa Monica High School football as Covid-19 restrictions forced all high school sports to shut down for the season. In early 2021 the decision was made to play a 5 game make-up season with no playoffs instead of the normal 10 game season. The Samohi Frosh- Soph team struggled early in the season as opt outs from Covid and injuries took their toll on the roster. But good things come to those who wait and for parents and fans of Vikings Football the final game of the season against the Culver City Centaurs delivered in spectacular fashion.
The Centaurs took 20-6 lead with 6:10 in the 4th quarter, but the Vikings responded quickly with Vaughn Jelks returning the kickoff to the Culver City 41 yard line. A quick pass from quarterback Ivan Lavant to Kamal Jabari and some tough inside running by tailback Sam Lipske behind left tackle Jaden Montenez and left guard Paco Vandenbrook set up Juaquin Nava for a 30 yard touchdown from Lavant with 4:45 seconds remaining. After converting on the 2 point conversion the Vikings played inspired defense with Issac Silva, Michael Sergev and Ryland Hawkins making key tackles to hold the Centaurs offense in check. On 4th and 3 with 1:28 remaining Linebacker Pierce Reynoso led the charge as a gang of Viking tacklers stuffed the Centaurs rushing attack and Culver City was forced to turn the ball over on downs.
The Vikings quickly made their way down the field with key catches by Gus Rayman and Kamal Jabari setting up Ivan Lavant’s 3 yard scramble to tie the game 20-20 with 2 seconds remaining. With no time left in regulation The Vikings elected to go for the 2-point conversion with Gus Rayman lining up under center. Rayman took the snap and darted toward the right side. A host of Centaur tacklers attempted to bring him down but Rayman surged forward into the endzone dragging defenders with him.
As the referee signaled touchdown pandemonium erupted on the Samohi sideline as the Vikings stormed on to the field, with players, parents and fans cheering, jumping up and down and carrying each other off the field. On the final play, of the final game, in the final seconds the winless Vikings had found redemption defeating their arch rivals from across town.
The mood on the Culver City sideline was stunned with disbelief. On the Viking sideline pure jubilation. Parents and players hugged each other and congratulated coaches. Throughout the season each week the Vikings had improved but always seemed to fall short. But not today. Today they were on top of the world, king of the mountain and all was forgiven.
After the game Varsity Head Coach Matt Kirk addressed the young players. “I’m so proud of you guys. This was a team win today. It took all you guys to do this. Offense, defense, special teams. You guys are the future of this program and if you keep doing what you did today there’s going to be more days like this. The future looks bright.”
The Santa Monica Vikings Frosh Soph Team are: Head Coach- Doug Kim, Defensive Coordinator- Calvin Parker, Offensive Coordinator-Jason Detamore, Offensive Line-Defensive Line- Justin Moreno. Players: Henry Allen, Antwon Cruz, Jayden Davis, Theo Dowling, Caden Green, Hunter Handal, Dylan Hanvey, Ryland Hawkins, Adrian Jimenez, Vaughn Jelks, Angel Cooley Knots, Ivan Lavant, Samuel Lipske, Caden Mcallum, Semaj McCintire, Carlos Melchur, Jayden Montenez, Juaquin Nava, Derrick Napier, Mason Olium, Gus Rayman, Pierce Reynoso, Issac Rockwell, David Salise, Issac Silva, Malik Stetson, Amari Tipton, Brandon Valdiivirinos, Paco Vandenbrook, Beto Villasanor, and Noah Zucker.