CORSAIR FIELD — A first-half 14-0 lead had Santa Monica football thinking upset, but the Vikings’ hopes were dashed Friday at Santa Monica College by a 26-0 Hart run that sealed their fate.
Entering the game a long-shot, Samohi’s offense got going in the first quarter when junior quarterback Nico Basile passed to Kevin Person for the game’s first score.
Hart, ranked No. 1 in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division, sputtered on offense without running back Connor Wingenroth, who injured himself early in the game.
Samohi capitalized on Hart’s sluggish start, scoring again midway through the second quarter, this time Basile hooked up with wide receiver De’Jai Whitaker, putting the Vikings up 14-0.
That’s when Hart and junior quarterback Brady White woke up.
White snuck in the endzone with a 1-yard quarterback keeper with 1:51 left in the second quarter to cut into what had been a commanding Samohi lead.
“That’s a dangerous quarterback over there,” Samohi head coach Travis Clark said of White. “That guy is going to be playing on Saturdays one of these days.”
The two teams played a scoreless third quarter, giving Samohi hope that its 14-7 lead would hold.
But, White wasn’t done.
The fleet-footed quarterback ran up the middle of the Samohi defense for a 30-yard touchdown that tied the game at 14-0 just minutes into the fourth quarter.
The next Samohi possession proved to be a boon for Hart.
Samohi’s Basile threw an interception to Chase White, who returned it 51 yards for a score. After a blocked extra point, Hart held a 20-14 advantage and wouldn’t look back.
Brady White connected with Trent Irwin for a 37-yard scoring strike that padded Hart’s lead, 26-14.
Samohi fell to 2-3 on the season in defeat. Hart improved to 5-0.
Despite not scoring an upset, Hart head coach Mike Herrington had high praise for Samohi.
“They put a lot of pressure on us,” Herrington said. “They easily have one of the best defensive lines we’ve seen all season.”
Clark and his boys may not have shocked the Southern California football world, but the showing gives them hope as they prepare to open Ocean League play on Friday at home against Morningside.
“I don’t think we fell apart,” Clark said. “Hart just has so many weapons. It’s hard to keep them down all night.”
Friday’s loss was the third in a row to touted SoCal foes for Samohi. Losses to Mater Dei, Valencia and now Hart can be disheartening, but Clark likes what he sees as Samohi tries to win a third consecutive Ocean League crown.
“If our kids aren’t encouraged by this game,” Clark said, “I don’t know what will.”