CORSAIR FIELD ‚Äî Things just aren‚Äôt getting easier for Santa Monica football.
A two-game skid at the hands of Southern California stalwarts Mater Dei and Valencia will be tough to end with Hart coming to town on Friday.
Ranked No. 1 in the CIF-Southern Section‚Äôs Northern Division and entering the game 4-0, Hart may be the toughest challenge yet for Samohi (2-2, No. 8 in the Western Division) as they hope to finish the preseason with a winning record.
Facing an offense considered one of the finest in SoCal, Samohi head coach Travis Clark knows full well that his Vikings need to control the ball and keep Hart out of the endzone if they have any chance at an upset.
This is the second season in a row that Samohi has faced this trio of vaunted teams with no wins coming out of the matchups.
Last week was Samohi‚Äôs best chance to score an upset, but after being up 21-14 in the third quarter, Valencia was able to rally back for a 42-21 win at home.
“Hart is better than Valencia, but not by much,” Clark said. “Hart‚Äôs offense is pretty special.”
Led by quarterback Brady White, Hart continues its tradition of producing stellar signal callers. Coupled with converted running back Connor Wingenroth, Clark expects to face the kind of offense that gives any defense fits.
Despite the long odds, Clark remains hopeful that this final tune-up before the Ocean League season could break either way.
Clark will rely on his signature running game with Kwame Duggins and Will Taylor leading the way, but effective quarterback play has to factor into the offense.
Samohi junior Nico Basile gets his second consecutive start under center, a fact that perks up Clark‚Äôs hopes.
Basile was able to move the ball against Valencia, but miscues and missed assignments were his undoing. Considering the flow of the offense, Clark believes that Samohi could have routed Valencia if not for mistakes.
After watching last week‚Äôs game film, Hart head coach Mike Herrington was impressed with Samohi‚Äôs effort on offense, especially the Vikings‚Äô running back tandem of Duggins and Taylor and the offensive line.
“They look a lot bigger than last year,” Herrington said. “They are certainly more physical.”
Aside from game planning for Samohi, Herrington has spent a considerable amount of time this week keeping his players on the task at hand and not to overlook a decided underdog.
“Our guys know that [Samohi] will be tough to beat,” he said. “I think they have their minds in the right place.”
Fortunately for Samohi, the Vikings come into the game relatively at full strength with just a handful of players bruised and battered, but no worse for wear.
With that said, Clark knows that intangibles will play a major role on Friday under the lights.
“Effort, it‚Äôs all about effort,” he said. “If we put forth effort, anything is possible.”
Friday‚Äôs game will be played at Santa Monica College‚Äôs Corsair Field. Game time is 7 p.m.