Facing off against tough foes to start the season, the Santa Monica College football team is off to a 1-2 start in the 2017 season. After pulling out a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the opening game of the year, the Corsairs were soundly defeated by two quality opponents.
But the first game of season provided plenty of thrills and a positive result for Santa Monica. The Corsairs rallied from a 17-0 deficit to pull out a stunning 31-30 victory over rival West L.A. College in Culver City on September 2. The winning drive in the fourth quarter covered 96 yards on 11 plays, capped off by SMC quarterback John Martinos’ 12 yard touchdown pass to receiver Jordan Herrera. The extra point by Victor Sambugaro sealed the win.
Martinos, a freshman quarterback from New York, completed 12-23 passes for 197 yards and no interceptions. His main target was Herrera, a sophomore receiver from Miami, Florida, who caught five passes for 72 yards. Sophomore receiver Gabriel Berkovich had two receptions for 70 yards.
Freshman running back Ricky Hambright out of Houston, Texas, led the rushing attack with 95 yards on 15 carries. Another freshman runner, Christoph Hirota, gained 76 yards on 15 carries.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Chris Wein had 10 solo tackles and two assists.
In the next game against Palomar on Sept. 9 at SMC, the Corsairs ground game was slowed down in a 45-14 loss. While SMC ran the ball with good success in the opening game, the Corsairs compiled only eight rushing yards total on 25 attempts in the loss to Palomar (2-0 record).
SMC’s passing game had a tough time as well. Martinos went 7-24 for 94 yards passing. Herrera led his team with four catches for 118 yards.
Palomar dominated the game with a 27-7 advantage in first downs.
It didn’t get any easier for SMC in its next game against Mt. San Antonio College in Santa Monica on September 16. The Corsairs were facing one of the top junior college teams, and Mt. San Antonio rolled to a 41-6 victory.
The Mounties (3-0 record) scored touchdowns on their first three possessions in breaking out to an early 21-0 lead. Santa Monica’s defense had a difficult time stopping the Mounties’ passing attack, led by 6-3 freshman QB Jaiave Mageli, who completed many short passes to set up scoring drives.
SMC had good chances to get points before the first half and perhaps make it a competitive contest, but the Corsairs missed a short field goal and also couldn’t get in the end zone inside the 10 yard line.
Meanwhile, Mt. San Antonio drove down the field for a long scoring drive to give the Mounties an insurmountable 28-0 advantage at halftime. Santa Monica couldn’t muster a miracle comeback this time, and ended up falling to a superior opponent.
The Corsairs expect to be tested plenty of times this season as SMC is now in the upper division of the National Northern League. SMC has a young squad with several key players only frehsmen and sophomores. Last year SMC finished 1-9 but battled hard in some close losses. This year the goal is more wins and building on a young foundation.
“We’re just looking to improve,” said head coach Bill Laslett, in his second season guiding the young Corsairs. “When I first took over the football program was low in numbers. But we have a group of guys who have rallied. We’ve got a great group of young men with a young coaching staff. We’re better this year because we’ve got more numbers and more talent.”
Laslett knows it will take some time for improvement to show in wins and losses, but he remains optimistic it can come soon.
“I’m excited and proud of the young men we’ve recruited,” he said. “They are character guys who are doing the right thing.”
SMC soccer teams enjoy early success
The Santa Monica College soccer teams are both off to good starts in 2017. The men’s team started 3-0-1, while the Lady Corsairs compiled a 3-1-1 record after five games.
Leading the men’s squad in scoring so far are Carlos Rincon and Kevin Martinez. Andy Naidu notched five assists in four games.
“The team worked extremely hard during the off-season and it has showed,” men’s coach Tim Pierce said.
Key contributors to the women’s team have been midfielder Chrystal Dorado, defender/forward Marissa Moore, and goalkeeper Emma Romero.
“These three team members are extremely important figures to our organization as they have the experience and leadership skills that will continue to carry the team to a commitment of excellence,” SMC women’s coach Aaron Benditson said.
Benditson is entering his 11th season guiding the Corsairs. He said the SMC women’s soccer team has aspirations of competing for a Western State Conference Championship and the opportunity to participate in the Southern California Regional post-season play.
Cross Country: The SMC cross country teams are off and running in 2017. Both the men’s and women’s squads expect to show improvement this season. Leading the guys’ team are Cesar Gatete, Dominick Carter, and Nico Hayes. Top female runners include Jessica Robert and Geneva Carter.
The head coach is Eric Barron.