COLEMAN STADIUM — For the second straight year, Santa Monica football wears the Ocean League crown.
Samohi wrapped up the league title with a 39-10 rout at Inglewood on Friday with both teams fighting for the title of champion.
“Nobody can take this away from them,” Samohi head coach Travis Clark said of the accomplishment. “It’s been great to see them turn it around.”
The Vikings still have one game to play in the regular season — Friday against Hawthorne — but will be named champs regardless of the outcome.
Friday’s game was close early with Inglewood getting on the scoreboard first with Damien Hamilton scoring on a 27-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter.
Just two minutes later, Samohi answered as quarterback Ryan Barbarin connected with running back Denicio Gonzalez-Drake for a 9-yard scoring pass.
The two teams traded points for the remainder of the first half, entering half-time at 14-10 in Samohi’s favor.
From there, the wheels fell off for Ingelwood.
The Vikings opened second half scoring with a safety on a punt. On the Samohi drive that followed, Gonzalez-Drake kicked a 25-yard field goal that put Samohi up, 19-10.
Inglewood was hard pressed to generate offense throughout the second half. That wasn’t the case for a Samohi team that punctuated the game with a 95-yard run by Russell Revis.
Samohi running back Ryan Chamberlain added two more second half scores that put the game way out of reach for Inglewood.
“As of now, this feels good,” said Samohi running back Yachal Butler, while not getting into the end zone was the workhouse on the ground for the Vikings for most of the night. “Our goal was to win the Ocean League and we pulled it off.”
Butler has emerged in recent weeks as Samohi’s primary ball carrier. His play has given Clark more flexibility with his play calling. Instead of depending on the big play to move the ball, the Vikings have gone back to a grinding running style that led them to last year’s league title and a long playoff run.
While happy with the championship, Clark warned his boys to not let up as they prepare for Hawthorne in the season finale on Friday at Santa Monica College’s Corsair Field.
He knows that a loss could hurt their seeding for the CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoffs, something he would rather not have to contend with.
The regulars are expected to play next week as the Vikings try to end the league season undefeated at 5-0.
The league portion of Samohi’s schedule has proven to be successful for the Vikings (4-0 in league, 6-3 overall), but the preseason was a chore.
Samohi struggled against powerhouses Mater Dei, Valencia and Hart, but Clark believes that it hardened his team’s resolve and gave them a peek at what successful programs do well — and often.
“They have grown every week,” Clark said. “That’s rare for a team this late in the season. They just keep getting better as the weeks pass. That’s something that I’m very proud of.”