PACIFIC PALISADES — While most prep football teams are experimenting with new school variations of the spread offense, Palisades High School is going with a decidedly old school tactic: the wishbone.
Santa Monica High School Head Coach Travis Clark said that he’s enthusiastically looking forward to defending an offense that most of today’s players know little about. The two teams will renew its Westside rivalry tonight at Pali.
“That’s how I grew up,” Clark said of the wishbone. “This is going to be interesting.”
The run-first offense was installed by new Pali Dolphins head coach Perry Jones. In the past, the Dolphins had been more of a pass-centric offense, so facing this old foe will be a new experience for the Samohi Vikings, who blanked Pali, 35-0, last season.
“Thankfully, I understand [the wishbone],” Clark said. “I’ve been working with the kids all week to recognize it.”
The lessons appear to be sinking in with at least one Viking.
Defensive back Kori Garcia said he’s expecting more than his share of opportunities to tackle ball carriers.
“I heard they have a couple of good running backs,” Garcia said. “But, I think we should be able to stop them.”
The responsibility for stopping Pali’s running onslaught will fall on the Vikings’ corps of linebackers, Clark said.
“The linebackers have been a bright spot for us this year,” Clark said. “Those guys should make it hard to run the ball.”
The trio of Justin Coker, Chris Collins and Donavan Citrowski were key in defeating Leuzinger, 42-6, last week to open the season. They figure to be pivotal if they Vikings are to improve their record to 2-0.
If all goes well on defense, Clark said it bodes well for his team that proved last week that it can light up the scoreboard.
The Leuzinger game was highlighted by the play of wide receiver Kris Comas, who scored on a pair of long punt returns. A repeat of that feat is unlikely, but Clark said he wouldn’t be surprised if Comas again came through in a major way.
“I’m not going to bank on punt returns,” Clark said. “We have to force them to punt first before we can let Comas run wild on those guys.”
For Garcia, the prospect of repeating last week’s fireworks is a matter of continuity.
“We have to keep up the intensity,” Garcia said. “The more practice we have together, the more we execute.”
In his second year as head coach, Clark said that he’s happy to see the team take on his character. He, and his squad, hope that translates into more victories than last season’s four.
“This is our payback tour,” Garcia said. “All the teams that did us wrong last year, we’re out to get them this year.”
The game takes place tonight at Pali. The game begins at 7 p.m.