LOMPOC, Calif. — It isn’t going to be easy, but Santa Monica High’s Travis Clark said it can be done.
The fifth-year head coach brings his Samohi Vikings into the CIF-Southern Section Western Division second round playoff game Friday knowing that No. 3 seed Lompoc won’t be a pushover, but he sees opportunity where most see a possible loss.
“They are going to be a challenge for us,” Clark said. “They have built a reputation over the years.”
That reputation includes a 10-1 record this year and an appearance in the division semifinals last season.
Lompoc’s calling card has always been the running game. This year is no different, but the problem is three-fold for Samohi.
This year’s running game is spearheaded by a trio of guys with AJ Florez leading the way. The other two running backs that get their share of carries is Derrick Portis and Austin Hayes.
Lompoc head coach Andrew Jones often deploys a two-back offense and says his Braves run the ball nearly 80 percent of the time.
On the flip side, Samohi has a similar makeup on offense.
Senior running backs Kwame Duggins and Will Taylor will get most of the looks for Samohi and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Jones.
“It’s going to come down to who stops the run,” he said. “Both teams are really efficient.”
Samohi will again look to the defensive line to lead the way.
The unit was stout against Channel Islands during last week’s first round 27-0 rout and Clark thinks they will have to dominate a somewhat one-dimensional Lompoc offense if they are going to advance.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we walk away with a win,” Clark said. “We have upset on our minds, baby.”
Leading the Samohi charge will again be Terrence Jackson and his 19 sacks. For good measure, Jackson returned an interception 95 yards for a score against Channel Islands.
Cayden Burns, Dearriyus Dorsey, Lavoisiea Ford and Ben Kerr will also have to be factors on the D-line.
That’s another spot where Samohi and Lompoc are similar.
Lompoc’s defensive front is anchored by Ainuu Taua. The 280-pounder is being heavily recruited by UCLA, Ole Miss and Oklahoma, to name just a few.
“He’s pretty legit,” Jones said. “The guy also plays tight end. He has the best hands on the team.”
Despite the long odds, Samohi does have the element of surprise on their side. It even has Jones scratching his head after watching a few game films. Samohi will hit the field with a question mark at quarterback.
Jones counted three guys who rotate in and out under center. Senior Jordan Detamore is the true passer of the group. Trent Hill is often called on to run the wildcat. Kevin Person is the latest player to get a shot at leading the offense.
Person had his first start of the season last week and brings more of a dual threat to the table.
Clark hopes that gives his team a little bit of an edge considering Lompoc will have to contend with game planning for three different scenarios.
The funny thing is, Clark is as uncertain how things will play out on Friday.
“That’s a good question,” he said when asked who would get most of the snaps. “I kind of want to let the situation dictate what we’ll do. But for now, I’m not telling.”
The game will be played some 150 miles away, which gives Lompoc a decided home field advantage.
Samohi boosters are trying to raise money to feed the boys during the 150-mile trip.
The plan is to make a pit stop at Hometown Buffet and provide the guys a sack lunch for the trip back.
Anyone interested in donating is being asked to contact Lori Whitesell at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give a check made out to the Viking Fund to players.
Boosters are also booking a rooter bus. Interested fans are being asked to contact Suzanne Gonzalez-Drake via e-mail at email@example.com. The cost is $27 per person and includes a game ticket.
Friday’s game begins at 7 p.m. at Lompoc High School.