MISSION VIEJO — With Ocean League play lurking just seven days away, today’s road game against Capistrano Valley may be the last time the Vikings have an opportunity to right what ails them.
Coming off a 63-7 drubbing at the hands of Valencia last week, Santa Monica High School’s Head Coach Travis Clark is using the loss as a teaching tool for his team that finds itself 1-3.
“(The players) need to learn to respond to adversity,” Clark said. “We’re still not out of the water.”
Samohi has an opportunity to begin to salvage its season this week against Capistrano Valley, a team the Vikings defeated last year.
Clark said that establishing a running game will be crucial for the Vikings not only this week, but also during league play. He’s tried a number of combinations including junior Brandon Taylor as the feature back, but has decided to give some of his younger players more carries. Sophomores Kori Garcia and Donovan Citrowski will be looked on to carry the load.
“I’m going to give them the opportunity,” Clark said of his underclassmen ball carriers.
If Samohi can consistently gain yards on the ground, Clark said it would make life that much easier for senior quarterback Garrett Safron, who despite the team’s record has put together a solid season, drawing the interest of opposing coaches and college recruiters alike.
Capistrano Valley’s Head Coach Chi Chi Biehn knows that he has to contain Safron and his group of receivers if his team is to avenge last year’s loss.
“Their quarterback may be the best guy we’ve seen all year,” Biehn said. “Safron is a guy we have to contain if we want to be competitive.”
Biehn said his team’s chances on defense hinge on the play of middle linebacker Michael Maierhofer, defensive lineman Dustin Alewine and defensive back Austin Gutierrez. Biehn said that trio will all need to have big games if his unit is to come out on top.
After watching film from various games this season, Biehn said he was impressed by what he has seen and added it only strengthened the way he felt about Santa Monica’s offense.
“They look faster,” he said. “Also, their schemes seem a little different.
“We’re in for one this year.”
Biehn added that he isn’t fooled by Samohi’s 1-3 record.
“Not sure what happened last week against a great Valencia team,” he said. “Despite that, I think they are really good. They should be competitive in their league.”
Clark agrees with that assessment, but he knows that if his team is going to turn this season around, he will have to search for the right personnel packages.
That is especially true in light of injuries along the defensive line. Senior defensive end Jose Perez is out for the game making Clark’s jobthat much more difficult.
“I’m just trying to get the right guys on the field,” Clark said. “But, I’m confident in them.”