SAMOHI — Much is certain about Santa Monica High School’s offense.
They return four starters from last year’s offensive line. The Vikings’ primary weapon is undoubtedly USC-commit wide receiver Sebastian LaRue. And a platoon of running backs will be relied on to tote the rock.
What isn’t certain is who will be orchestrating the offense at quarterback.
There’s a three-man competition to determine who will replace last year’s starter Christian Salem, but Head Coach Travis Clark said he’s far from deciding who will line up behind center on opening night.
“It’s still a competition,” Clark said. “I haven’t named a starter. I don’t feel that I’m in a hurry to.”
Locked in the fight for the top spot are senior transfer Ryan Barbarin, sophomore Niko Basile and junior Jordan Detamore. Clark believes that Barbarin, who came to Samohi from Serra, and Basile have worked their way to the forefront, but who knows who will be barking out plays when the Vikings host Redondo Union on Aug. 31.
Clark said he may have a favorite at this point, but he’s not telling.
What he does know is that he likes to play things close to the vest. It creates a little mystery while the summer’s subplot unfolds.
Clark does plan to have a starter in place by the time Samohi takes on South Torrance in their annual scrimmage in a few weeks, yet he seems to be enjoying what the competition is bringing out in his trio of quarterbacks.
Whoever does wind up the starter will have the good fortune of having LaRue catching passes.
The senior, who is considered one of the top wide receivers in southern California, if not the West Coast, dominated last season with 55 receptions, 903 yards and 17 touchdowns. What makes those stats all the more impressive is the fact that Samohi was a run-first offense last season with Kori Garcia, who is currently at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, getting most of the touches on offense.
Clark knows that LaRue will draw double and triple coverages so picking the right quarterback to spread the ball around will be that much more important.
While arm strength and command of the offense will go a long way in determining a starting QB, Clark said he’s looking for more.
For a guy to seize the position he’ll have to step up.
“They have to take on a leadership role,” Clark said. “They need to be more than just another guy in the huddle, they have to be an extension of me on the football field.”
As the summer, and its demanding practice schedule continues, the battle for quarterback will continue to be the main attraction for the Vikings and their fourth-year coach as Samohi tries to recapture the form that saw them advance to the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoffs for the first time in over a decade.
“This should be interesting,” Clark said of the situation.