CORSAIR FIELD — The Vikings may have found just the right recipe for victory on Friday against Palisades.
Santa Monica High School’s football team struck early and often in dispatching Westside rival Pali, 33-15, at Santa Monica College. The Vikings relied on the trio of running back Kori Garcia, quarterback Christian Salem and wide receiver Sebastian Larue as Samohi improved to 2-0 this year, sending Pali to 0-2.
"I knew we could run on them," Garcia said of the Pali defense. "I have to give a lot of credit to my line, they opened some big holes up for me tonight."
Garcia was nothing short of spectacular on Friday against an overmatched Pali defense. The senior being recruited by a number of Ivy League schools finished the night with 135 yards rushing with a pair of touchdowns on the ground. He also caught a pass for an 85-yard score.
At one point, after Garcia scored his third touchdown of the night, Head Coach Travis Clark jokingly bowed down to the running back as a show of respect. Garcia just smirked at his coach’s display.
“He’s such a special kid,” Clark said of Garcia. “He makes it all look so easy.”
Clark, like Garcia gave much of the credit to an offensive line anchored by Chad Wheeler, who has received an offer from USC. Clark didn’t hesitate to run Garcia right up Wheeler’s back as the two would set the pace for Samohi’s running attack.
While Samohi would dominate most of the night, it was Pali that struck first during the first possession of the game. Arte’ Miura ran for a 15-yard score that put Pali up 7-0.
It was then that Garcia would rip off his first scoring run. This one a 39-yard jaunt that knotted the game at 7-7.
The score would remain tied until the second quarter when Garcia struck again. On a designed screen pass, Salem found Garcia in the flat and the slick running back took it from there as he eluded a number of Pali defenders as he streaked for the endzone putting Samohi up 13-7 after missing the extra point.
“That kid is a player,” Pali Head Coach Perry Jones said of Garcia. “The ability to see the hole, plant your foot and head up field is just a God-given talent.”
Samohi wouldn’t be challenged from there as they would end the game strong on a 30-yard scoring pass from Salem to Larue with less than a minute remaining in the contest.
With that final scoring strike, Salem finished the night 13 of 20 passing for 282 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Larue grabbed nine passes, good for 140 yards on the night.
"He’s starting to get a good handle on the offense," Clark said of Salem. "He has all the tools to succeed. I’m glad to see him putting it together."
Larue, who transferred from Orange Lutheran this season, was equally impressed by Salem’s steady performance. Larue was the senior’s favorite target all night as Pali found few answers to Samohi’s offensive attack.
“He’s at the top of his game,” Larue said of Salem. “We had great chemistry.”
Next for Samohi is a home game against Anaheim Canyon on Friday. The game begins at 7 p.m.