CORSAIR FIELD — After tarnishing their perfect Ocean League record last week in a nail-biting loss at Culver City, many football fans wondered if the Santa Monica High School Vikings still had what it takes to make the playoffs.
However, the Vikings kept their postseason dreams and their reputation intact as they dominated Inglewood, 21-0, for 48 minutes on both sides of the ball on Friday night at Santa Monica College.
The win gives Samohi football a 5-4 overall record and 3-1 mark in league.
Samohi took a page out of the uncomplicated Baltimore Ravens playbook and pounded the ball hard up the middle with the run game, while playing stifling defense.
The Vikings were so confident in their run game that they ran the ball 30 times before attempting a pass play. There was little to no variety in the offense, and Samohi only recorded one completion on the night.
“Honestly, I’m a little concerned, I like to score points but we have to do whatever we can do, I don’t want to turn the ball over,” said Travis Clark, Samohi head coach.
The bulk of Samohi’s points came from the defense, which pillaged Inglewood all night long. The victory on Friday also marked the Vikings second shutout this season in league play.
The biggest stop of the night came from senior Denicio Gonzalez-Drake who blocked a punt and ran it back for a touchdown, his first of the season.
“This felt good because it sealed the deal for playoffs,” Gonzalez-Drake said.
The Vikings’ secondary was no slouch either, as the varsity squad recorded two interceptions, including a pick returned for a touchdown by Ahmad Clayton.
“That’s what happens when you have D-line pressure like that, the secondary should have opportunities,” said Clark. “The ball goes up and they have to make plays on the ball.”
Friday’s decisive victory over Inglewood secured the Vikings as the second place team in the Ocean League, giving them the league’s second automatic playoff berth.
The game also marked what could be the final matchup between these two schools.
Due to a restructuring of the Ocean League, Samohi and Inglewood will no longer play each other.
“I have nothing but respect for the program,” said Clark, who is a former Inglewood coach. “It’s unfortunate we’re not going to get to play them anymore. I’m disappointed about that.”
However, Clark is proud of his current ball club who got the job done in a high-stakes game.
“It took me until Tuesday to get these kids over the loss to Culver City,” he said. “It’s senior night and this is the last time many of them will play on this field.”
Friday was a much-needed morale boost for the Vikings who will be forced to play the exact same style next week if they hope to have success moving forward in the postseason. Issues at quarterback have forced Clark and Co. to nearly abandon the passing game.
“Obviously, I’d love to throw the ball, I’m a throwing guy at heart but if we have to run the ball to be successful then, yeah, you might see a lot of it,” Clark said.
Samohi’s hopes of three-peating as league champs are gone, but Clark likes his team’s chances going forward into the postseason.
“We’ll go in as a second place team, we’re not afraid of anyone,” said Clark.
Samohi’s next game is scheduled for Friday, at 7 p.m. at Hawthorne High School.