CORSAIR FIELD — A chance at three-peating as Ocean League champions may be a long shot for Santa Monica football, but a spot in the playoffs is very much in play.
After losing to Culver City in overtime last week and falling to 2-1 in league and 4-4 overall, the Vikings now find themselves shooting for second place and the league’s other automatic berth into the postseason.
Standing in Samohi’s way is Inglewood, a team also sporting a 2-1 league mark and holding its own playoff aspirations.
“Our morale was shaken by the Culver City loss,” Samohi head coach Travis Clark said. “But, all we can do is pick up the pieces.”
Samohi’s defense was sound during last week’s 17-14 loss, but offense was hard to come by against an athletic Culver City team.
Running back Kwame Duggins was one of the lone bright spots with two touchdowns, but an inconsistent passing game ultimately doomed Samohi’s hopes for a perfect league season.
Quarterback Nico Basile, the team’s starter for much of the season, gave way to a wildcat-style offense, led by wide receiver Trent Green and running back Will Taylor, and may again be the case this week.
“You can say we have some issues at quarterback,” Clark said. “Not sure what we’re going to end up doing on offense.”
Whatever that is, it will surely include Duggins in a starring role.
Clark has high praise for the senior transfer, calling him a legitimate league most valuable player candidate.
“He’s really growing into his role,” Clark said. “I can’t say enough about the guy.”
While Clark tries to figure out what direction he’s going on offense, defense has clear marching orders.
Inglewood’s Zaire Andre will get the nod at quarterback, a prospect that has Clark and Co. a little concerned. Andre has committed to Washington State as a wide receiver, but has been called on to lead an offense that has athletic playmakers at almost every position.
Another fact that has occupied Clark’s mind is Inglewood’s new head coach, Tony Reid.
Coming off a stint at Frederick Douglass Charter School and a long tenure coaching semi-professional team the Inglewood Blackhawks, Reid has installed a system that is totally new to Clark.
Before taking over the helm at Samohi five years ago, Clark was a coordinator at Inglewood alongside Stephen Thomas, who stayed on with the school, ultimately becoming the head coach through last season. Thomas’ system was familiar to Clark, giving him somewhat of an advantage the past couple of years.
With the arrival of Reid comes new play calling and ultimately more questions.
For Reid, everything about playing in the league is new and fleeting.
There is talk of reorganizing the Ocean League next season with Inglewood on the way out.
No decision has been made, but officials at both Samohi and Inglewood are nearly certain this may be the last time the two teams meet for the immediate future.
“Regardless what happens with league, this game means a lot,” Reid said.
Friday’s tilt begins at 7 p.m. at Santa Monica College’s Corsair Field.