The Santa Monica High football team experienced a feeling Friday night that it hadn’t experienced in nearly two years.
After going winless on the field in their first season under coach Ramsey Lambert, the Vikings snapped their streak of futility by overpowering Compton 34-14 on the road in a landmark game for the program.
“It felt pretty good,” Lambert said. “The kids have worked really hard. Especially for the kids who did endure last season, it meant a lot for the coaching staff for them to get a win under their belt. It showed them that they can do this, that the system works. It was pretty rewarding to get that one out of the way.”
The win came at a seemingly pivotal point in the season for Samohi (1-2), which had struggled in losses to Santa Ana-Segerstrom and Cypress its first two games of the year. And it arrived a week before the Vikings play their home opener this Friday night against Dana Point-Dana Hills at Santa Monica College.
Lambert’s squad secured the victory with a “smash and dash” combination in its ground game, where Tony Dancy’s power and Antonio Holley’s quickness overwhelmed Compton. Dancy took 31 carries for 224 yards and three touchdowns, while Holley added 154 all-purpose yards and two scores in what Lambert said was his first game of eligibility.
“He’s a jet,” Lambert said. “He came in and sparked us. … We had speed with Holley, and our big guy was grinding away yards. They were a nice complement to each other.”
The win seemed all the more impressive considering the departure of starting quarterback Dariush Sayson, who left the game after sustaining a shoulder bruise on a hit in the second quarter. Samohi sophomore Tee Barnes stepped in to manage the game in his stead.
With the game tied at 7-7 entering the second half, Holley gave the Vikings a burst of momentum with an 85-yard kickoff return to start the third quarter. Compton answered quickly, but Samohi took control on an ensuing drive featuring numerous running plays that was capped by a Dancy touchdown.
“We were able to slowly wear on them,” Lambert said.
The Vikings turned in their best defensive performance of the season, recovering three fumbles and stifling Compton’s double-wing offense as the evening wore on. Lambert noted that many opposing players were logging minutes on both sides of the ball, but he credited his team’s cardio conditioning for its success late in the game.
“Our kids were gritty,” Lambert said. “They were bigger than us, and they have two phenomenal running backs who were able to move the ball on us. But the defense was willing to sacrifice for the team.”
Lambert said he told his players after the game that they could enjoy the victory over the weekend but that he expected them to return to school Monday with a focus on this week’s challenge.
“We have 48 hours to get over a loss and 48 hours to celebrate a win,” he said. “We have to come back ready to work to go 1-0 this week.”