SAMOHI — Santa Monica’s Travis Clark is banking on a slug fest.
His Samohi Vikings head into the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Western Division football playoffs Friday against a Channel Islands team that looks almost like a mirror image.
Both teams like heavy doses of the run and aren’t afraid to hit somebody in the mouth, as Clark would say.
Who will prevail is still a question, but if Clark has his way, the Vikings will be standing once time runs out.
“They are going to try to beat us up,” Samohi quarterback Jordan Detamore said. “We expect a fight.”
Samohi (6-4) has been run-happy all season with senior transfer Kwame Duggins doing most of the dirty work of running between the tackles. For a change of pace, senior captain Will Taylor is the guy they run around the end or catch a ball out of the backfield.
Both ball carriers will face a Channel Islands defensive line that has been impressive all season, Clark said.
“Coach [Greg] Porter always has a physical team,” Clark said. “Last time we played, they hit us in the mouth.”
The teams faced off two years ago also in the first round with Samohi coming away with a hard-fought 28-20 victory.
While Clark said this year’s Channel Islands (5-5) team has all new faces, he surely expects the same kind of battle.
That sentiment is shared by Porter.
He’s seen a few games worth of tape and the similarities struck him, too.
Where Samohi has Duggins and Taylor, Porter has the Oto boys — AJ and Roy. AJ Oto is the one who carries the ball while Roy Oto opens holes from the fullback position.
It’s been a combination that has Clark game planning a scheme that will keep them from doing the type of damage they’ve inflicted on opponents all year.
Clark and Co. will counter with a dominant defensive line anchored by Kavoisiea Ford, Freddie de la Cruz and Ben Kerr.
The D-line led Samohi to a trio of shutouts during Ocean League play, a fact that Clark is particularly proud of.
“Those are my guys,” Clark said of the unit. “They aren’t afraid of anybody.”
That group’s tenacity also caught the eye of Porter.
He said that running against those guys isn’t going to be a leisurely stroll, but he’s confident in AJ Oto’s ability to break free.
“Without him, we’re not where we are,” Porter said. “He opens up a lot of things for us. They have to focus on him, and when they do, we can beat them other ways.”
Quarterback Ricky Estrada will be responsible for opening things up if Samohi overly commits to the run.
Clark said Estrada has the skills to get the job done, but he isn’t buying it. He expects a heavy dose of AJ Oto.
“They’re going to line that guy up and give us what they got,” Clark said. “I’ve spent all week preparing my boys for it.”
Friday’s game will be played at Santa Monica College’s Corsair Field. Game time is 7:30 p.m.