CORSAIR FIELD ‚Äî It was nearly a year ago that Culver City dashed Santa Monica football‚Äôs dreams of a championship in the playoff semi-finals.
Now, the only thing on Samohi‚Äôs collective mind is some long-sought-after revenge.
“This one is a different type of rivalry,” wide receiver Sebastian LaRue said. “When a team puts you out of the playoffs it changes things.”
Samohi is coming off a 24-0 rout of another Ocean League rival in Beverly Hills, but LaRue said that this week‚Äôs game is even bigger.
While the student body rallies every year to knock off Beverly Hills, LaRue said that, amongst the players, Culver City is the team they have their eyes on.
The 37-6 loss at the hands of Culver City last December is a sore spot and motivating factor for Samohi head coach Travis Clark, too.
While Culver City graduated a number of the stars from that team, Clark doesn‚Äôt doubt the Centaurs‚Äô ability to restock with talent.
“They always produce explosive guys,” Clark said. “I don‚Äôt know where they find them, where they hide them, but every year they always have somebody who can hurt you at the skill positions.”
This year‚Äôs top Culver City play-maker is a hold-over from last year‚Äôs team that lost to Arroyo Grande, 42-12, in the CIF-Southern Section Western Division final. Julius Wilson, who plays wide receiver, defensive back and a little quarterback, is the guy Samohi has to watch out for.
The speedy Wilson complements starting quarterback Xan Cuevas, who transferred to Culver City this season. The tandem mix run and pass effectively behind an offensive line that Clark said is pretty impressive.
When Wilson is at wide receiver, LaRue, who also plays both ways, will be tasked with covering the highly-recruited senior. Samohi doesn‚Äôt assign players to their defensive backs, but LaRue said that he‚Äôll give special attention to Wilson when he lines up on his side of the field.
“You can‚Äôt game play for any one person, but he‚Äôs the type of guy that you have to watch,” LaRue said.
As seems to be the case nearly every season, the league title plays into the mix. Samohi won the league last season by going unbeaten, a feat that this year‚Äôs winner will most likely have to match to bring home the crown.
Samohi and Inglewood both sit at 2-0 entering the game with Culver City at 1-1.
That fact alone gives Clark reason to pause knowing that Culver City will come out with an extra bit of motivation following their 12-9 loss to Inglewood last week.
“They can‚Äôt lose two,” Clark said. “If they do, they‚Äôre in trouble. They‚Äôre going to come out swinging.”
Health will certainly be on Samohi‚Äôs side with no major injuries to report. Linebacker Nick Cardiel, the Vikings‚Äô most dominant inside presence, was hobbled by an ankle injury during last week‚Äôs Beverly Hills game, but Clark said that he isn‚Äôt exhibiting a limp and should be ready to play on Friday.
LaRue joked that Cardiel goes 100 percent on every play, something that isn‚Äôt always a benefit to his health. That aside, LaRue expects Cardiel to be his offense-disrupting self come game time.
The game is scheduled for Friday at Santa Monica College‚Äôs Corsair Field. The game kicks off at 7 p.m.