REDONDO BEACH — In just one season on the job, Redondo Union head coach Matt Ballard has impressed his counterpart in Santa Monica.
Samohi head coach Travis Clark, who has built his Vikings into perennial contenders in the Ocean League since taking the helm in 2009, has a small sample size, but likes what he sees.
“Coach Ballard is about business,” Clark said as his Vikings prepare to face Redondo Union for the season opener Friday. “He’s doing the right things to build that program.”
Samohi may have walked away with a convincing 42-21 win to open last season, but it was the most points a team scored on the Vikings in defeat. A fact not lost on Clark.
“I know they are much improved and they were good last year,” he said. “I think they have some real talent.”
Clark got a first-hand look at Redondo Union last week. He saw the Sea Hawks rout North Torrance, 49-12, in convincing fashion to open the season, proving that they will be formidable.
What caught Clark’s attention the most was a pair of Redondo Union running backs.
Jamaal Perkins and Stephen Sudduth form a powerful tandem that has the benefit of running behind an experienced offensive line that rotates up to 10 players.
Clark counters with a defensive line that is somewhat young and inexperienced. He thinks he has the horses to stay with Redondo’s O-line, but how they perform is a work in progress.
An intriguing addition for Samohi is transfer Paul Morganroth. Hailing from Idaho, he hasn’t played much football, but stands 6-foot-4 and could ultimately end up anchoring the defensive line.
Morganroth may not have a world of experience with football, but he’s proven to be a champion, winning the gold medal at the 2012 National Youth Weightlifting Championships.
“He’s special,” Clark said of Morganroth. “He has tremendous upside.”
The Samohi defense will obviously be a factor in slowing down what’s proven to be a prolific Redondo Union offense this young season, but you can’t win if you can’t score.
Leading the Samohi offense will be senior quarterback Jordan Detamore. He’s had spot play over his career, but this is the first time he’s been handed the keys.
Detamore was in a battle all summer for the starting nod, but Clark said he won’t put a short lease on the lanky signal caller.
“He’s earned it,” Clark said. “He knows our offense and I can trust him.”
Detamore and fellow captain running back Will Taylor are being relied on to lead an offense that lost serious fire power.
Gone are Texas A&M recruit Sebastian LaRue and Jason King at wide receiver, opening the door for new play-makers to make their mark.
Trent Hill will be called on to lead a young receiver corps, which is fine by Clark.
“The great thing is you never replace anybody,” Clark said. “You just move on. We have some kids who have the ability.”
On the other sideline, Ballard realizes he has his hands full with Santa Monica.
He had the opportunity to watch Samohi’s scrimmage with South Torrance last week and saw an athletic team that has the potential to be high-scoring.
“They look the same as before when they put a whooping on us,” he joked. “They look physical. They can run the ball and they like to go vertical.”
Clark and Co. will get their chance to see how it all plays out on Friday at Redondo Union. The game begins at 7 p.m.