CORSAIR FIELD — It didn’t take long for Santa Monica football to prove that this year’s team has a different feel than years past.
Samohi rode a balanced attack that saw the Vikings score on the ground, through the air and even on defense during a 42-21 season-opening win over Redondo Union on Friday at Santa Monica College.
Seemingly gone is Samohi’s run-first offense and in its place is a high-powered passing game led by senior wide receiver Sebastian LaRue and new quarterback Ryan Barbarin.
“It felt like the old days,” Barbarin said of reuniting with his former Pop Warner teammate LaRue. “It was good to finally get out here and play.”
Barbarin, who transferred to Samohi from Serra last spring, finished the night with 254 yards passing and three touchdowns. He added a 1-yard keeper for a fourth score during his debut behind center.
LaRue was on the receiving end of two of those scores. Transfer Jason King caught the third for Samohi.
The Vikings scored early and often against an over-matched Redondo Union defense.
The game’s first score came on a 62-yard touchdown scamper by Samohi running back Russell Revis.
Redondo Union was able to answer later in the first quarter when Stephen Sudduth punched a run in for a 3-yard score.
That’s when Samohi opened up through the air. King caught the first of Barbarin’s three touchdown passes with LaRue adding another before Redondo answered with a 4-yard second quarter scoring run by Anthony Philyaw, who finished the night with 148 yards on the ground.
With the Vikings up 21-14 with 8 minutes left in the second quarter, Samohi would score three unanswered touchdowns highlighted by a 45-yard interception return by senior safety Matt Rusk-Kosa that put the game out of reach for Redondo Union.
The Sea Hawks were able to score one more time in the fourth quarter, but Samohi ran out the clock to secure the victory.
Even with success comes analysis.
Samohi head coach Travis Clark said that he was happy to see his offense open up through the air, but added that lapses on defense and penalties were troubling.
“I’ll take the victory,” Clark said. “But I saw some things that we need to work on.”
The view from the other sideline was a little different.
First-year Redondo Union head coach Matt Ballard couldn’t help but be impressed by Samohi’s ability to score. He said that allowing such an explosive offense to take a lead was too much for his Sea Hawks to overcome.
“You just can’t make mistakes against a team that athletic,” Ballard said. “We’re going to learn from it.”
Samohi moves on to face traditional rival Palisades next Friday on the road. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m.