NEWHALL, Calif. — Santa Monica football’s trek down murderers’ row continues on Friday with a tilt at powerhouse Hart.
This is the third difficult foe in successive weeks for Samohi, who have lost two straight — to Mater Dei and Valencia.
The Vikings (2-2) knew heading into the season that these games would be a challenge, but what has upset Head Coach Travis Clark and his boys most is that both losses were blowouts.
Clark doesn’t want to see that again as he prepares for a Hart team (3-1) that likes to air out the ball.
“I can’t worry about them too much,” Clark said. “It’s about us, making sure we do the little things right. It’s all in the details.”
He said that little mistakes have snowballed into a problem against Mater Dei and Valencia. And when that problem arises, it has a tendency to get the players down on themselves, Clark said,
Not losing his team’s confidence has been his mission for the week’s practices. Clark knows the losses can be deflating, but he attacks that with his own vigor for the game.
“The coaches keep showing up with enthusiasm to coach,” he said. “I’m still encouraged, I’m still talking it up. It rubs off on those kids.
“I’m going to stay positive no matter what goes down until we figure it out.”
There was some optimism to be had last week against Valencia. Facing a big deficit, Samohi was able to rally for a pair of second-half touchdowns.
Clark inserted touted wide receiver Sebastian LaRue at quarterback, energizing the team. He ran mostly the wild cat formation, often tucking the ball and ripping off big gains. Clark wanted to save that tactic for Ocean League play, but saw the opportunity last week to roll it out and see what it could do.
With the knowledge that it works, Clark said it should continue to be a part on offense until somebody figures out how to stop it.
Quarterback Ryan Barbarin will still start the game, but if the offense bogs down against Hart, expect to see LaRue under center.
As for the players, they are just trying to keep everything in perspective.
“It’s been rough,” linebacker Nick Cardiel said. “We’re trying to keep our spirits up. The season is early, it’s not over yet.
“This Hart team isn’t going to just walk all over us.”
Despite entering the road game as underdogs, Clark holds fast to the notion that if everybody maintains their assignments they may walk away with an upset.
“We have a chance in all of our games,” Clark said. “Problem is, it can get out of hand real easy. If we put together four quarters, we’ll be fine.”
If Samohi is to win, it will be without the services of running back Will Taylor and offensive lineman Pete Breceda. Taylor will sit after experiencing a concussion last week against Valencia. Breceda missed last week’s game with an ankle injury.
Cardiel said that other guys will have to rise up to replace the All-League Breceda and speedy Taylor.
“[Hart] is going to bring a lot of pressure,” Cardiel said. “We just have to make it work this game. We know what we have to do.”
The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at College of the Canyons.