PALIHI ‚Äî Santa Monica High School Vikings head coach Travis Clark can add another notch on his beat-Palisades-at-all-costs belt.
“I didn‚Äôt lose to them as a player, and I don‚Äôt want to lose to them as a coach,” said Clark, who was a Samohi standout in the late 1980s. “It‚Äôs a big rivalry for me, a personal rivalry.”
And with that, Samohi (2-0) routed the Palisades Charter High School Dolphins (1-1) 44-15 Friday night on the road.
Both teams sputtered early, each turning the ball over once in the early minutes of the first quarter. But the Vikings soon hit their stride, scoring two touchdowns late in the frame for a 13-0 lead. Samohi‚Äôs dominance continued in the second with another two touchdowns, one coming off an interception by senior Kevin Persons, who had two picks for the game.
“I think that we forced [Pali] to play a little more physical than they‚Äôre accustomed to,” Clark said. “I think they had to try and match that and it was difficult to do that.”
Within the first three minutes of the third quarter, the Vikings continued their offensive onslaught with the first of two touchdowns by senior wide receiver De‚ÄôJai Whitaker.
“[The offense] was connecting on every level,” said Will Taylor, who amassed 111 rushing yards. “We went over everything in practice and executed out here on the field.”
Samohi‚Äôs defense left Pali scoreless in the third quarter and allowed only 15 points for the game.
“Our defense was solid,” Persons said. “Everybody was 11 men to the ball, everybody was playing pursuit, everybody did their job.”
Pali head coach Tim Hyde felt their difficulty scoring was due to Samohi disrupting their game plan.
“We thought we could try and hit the edges against them passing, roll out and do some things,” Hyde said. “They were very disciplined on the outsides and boxed [senior quarterback] Taylor [Mensik] in.”
Samohi senior running back Kwame Duggins chipped in with 100 rushing yards of his own. Dolphins senior running back Joseph Velez ran for 155 yards.
Clark said he came into the game “planning on playing a couple of quarterbacks” due to junior quarterback Nico Basile‚Äôs ankle injury he sustained during their last game against the Redondo Union Sea Hawks.
“I was hoping to be able to get through this game with the other two guys and that‚Äôs exactly what we did, so the plan worked,” Clark said.
Samohi will be tested in next week‚Äôs game against the Mater Dei Monarchs. Clark considers Mater Dei “one of the best teams in the state of California.”
“I think if we practice straight [and] we practice good, we might shock the world,” Taylor said.