VALENCIA, Calif. — Santa Monica head coach Travis Clark hopes the fifth time’s the charm.
The past four meetings between his Vikings (2-1) and a heralded Valencia (2-1) team have ended with Samohi defeats, but Clark isn’t letting that get in his team’s heads.
“I feel really good this year,” Clark said. “My boys are very competitive. They’re going to slug it out.”
Providing most of Samohi’s punch is a defensive line led by transfer and national weightlifting champion Paul Morganroth.
Despite not having much experience playing football, Morganroth has impressed with his ability to nail his assignments and overall understanding of the game plan. He’s been slowed by minor injuries, but Clark’s sure he’ll see significant time on Friday at Valencia.
The unit Clark considers the best on the team has also been bolstered by Dearriyus Dorsey, Terrence Jackson and Cayden Burns.
Clark believes the D-line’s strong play should hold up in the face of a potent Valencia offense that is taking to the air more these days. Long considered a run-first attack, game films from this season hint at a change in philosophy for Valencia head coach Larry Muir.
Something is certainly working for Valencia. They have put up 97 points this season in building a 2-1 record behind quarterback Jake Wallace. On the flip side, Valencia has given up 95 points, including 56 to Western Division powerhouse Chaminade.
Clark sees what has proven to be a porous Valencia defense as one of their lone weaknesses.
He was slim on details, but said that the key to victory would be slowing the game down, giving his running backs ample opportunities to move the ball.
Senior running backs Will Taylor and Kwame Duggins will get most of the carries, which was successful during the Vikings’ first two games of the season against Redondo Union and Palisades. Last week’s shutout at the hands of Mater Dei didn’t result in much offense, but Clark liked what he saw on the game film.
“We took a lot of positives away from that game,” Clark said. “Our offense was effective early on.”
That’s when injury derailed Samohi’s chance at an upset.
Junior quarterback Nico Basile, who has seen his share of injuries this season, injured the thumb on his throwing hand, forcing Clark to thrust Jordan Detamore and Rudi Olmedo into action.
Unable to move the ball with any consistency spelled doom for the underdog Vikings against Mater Dei.
Basile returns under center this week, showing no signs of injury.
“We need him to show up on Friday,” Clark said of Basile. “We moved the ball when he was in there last week, but when he went down, we sputtered.”
Friday’s game takes place at Valencia with a start time of 7 p.m.