SAMOHI — Just days before facing one of Southern California’s premiere teams, the Santa Monica High School Vikings have decided to go in a different direction at quarterback.

Sophomore transfer Rhys Gervais will get the nod over Brock Miller on Friday against Valencia at Santa Monica College’s Corsair Field. It will be the Vikings’ first home game of the season.

Samohi Head Coach Travis Clark said the decision to promote Gervais was simple, given his success when called on to lead the team.

“We’ll see what [Gervais] can do against this great Valencia team,” Clark said. “The kid has shown a lot of poise.”

Gervais was inserted into the lineup late during a 35-29 loss to Villa Park last week, replacing a struggling Miller who was just five for 13 on pass attempts. Clark liked the way Gervais performed in a hostile road environment enough to hand him the reins of the team. Gervais finished the night nine of 13 with 179 yards and a scoring pass to standout receiver Kris Comas.

“This kid is pretty special,” Clark said of Gervais. “I’m excited to see how he responds.”

Clark said that the Vikings (2-1) will most likely have to light up the scoreboard if they are going to compete with an undefeated Valencia team, which has scored 141 points in just three games. Valencia, ranked No. 2 in the latest California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Northeast Division poll, is coming off a 45-7 drubbing of No. 9 ranked Palmdale.

“I don’t see us scoring 40 points on these guys,” Clark said,” but if we can hold them to under 30 points I think we have a shot.”

Chief amongst Clark’s concerns is Valencia running back Steven Manfro, who has rushed for 486 yards and scored eight touchdowns. The senior, who is just now starting to attract attention from college scouts, has averaged an impressive 13.5 yards a carry.

“We’ll have the same problem that everybody has: you just can’t tackle [Manfro],” Clark said. “He understands how to read his blocks.”

Clark will look to linebackers Chris Collins and Donavan Citrowski to apply pressure on Manfro. While Clark said he doesn’t expect to totally shut down Manfro, he likes his team’s potential to limit him. That will be key as Clark considers Valencia’s offensive and defensive lines the best his team has seen all year.

“Villa Park was a precursor for this game,” Clark said. “This will be another playoff atmosphere. It will be a good test for our boys.”

daniela@smdp.com

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