(photo by Dave Grenley)

SMC — When Santa Monica College’s football team takes the field for the season opener this weekend the Corsairs will be sporting a distinct Santa Monica High School tint.

SMC Head Coach Gifford Lindheim and his team are looking to bounce back from a tough 4-6 2010 season in which his team only won two conference games. Hopefully, six Samohi graduates on the 2011 roster are ready to do their part to bring the hometown program back to prominence. The sextet of former Samohi Vikings includes: DeVondre Burris, Kris Comas, Brandon Taylor, Joel Ramos, Javon Johnson and Austin Ehrlich.

“Growing up in the community, there has always been a rich tradition of football at Santa Monica High School and Santa Monica College. One of the most important items on my list when I was fortunate enough to take over this program was to re-connect with Santa Monica High School,” Lindheim said. “We are fortunate to have some Vikings on our squad. We’re really excited about the contributions that we think these guys are going to make. There are some very good football players in the group, and I feel very connected to them as people and to their success at Santa Monica College.”

That sentiment sits well with freshman wide receiver Comas, who was Samohi’s top playmaker last season.

“Coach Giff has my back,” Comas said. “This was the best decision I could have made.”

Comas tallied 17 touchdowns his senior year at Samohi, amassing 50 receptions totaling over 1,000 yards on the season. He averaged over 40 yards per kickoff return to boot.

The decision to continue their football careers and enroll at SMC was a relatively easy one. The consensus amongst the group was that this was the best place for them, on and off the field.

“Coach Giff has so many connections. That will benefit me down the road. Coming here was a great decision,” said running back Johnson.

The players unanimously cited the environment, the connection they had developed with the coaches, the high level of familiarity with the school and the football program and the ease in transition from high school to college as factors behind their decisions.

“This is the field we played on in high school. We all feel comfortable here at SMC,” said linebacker Ehrlich.

Aside from the familiarity with Corsair Field, other factors helped sway a number of the former Vikings to pick SMC.

“Academics were important for me,” said defensive lineman Ramos. “This is one of the best community colleges. It’s ranked No. 1 in the nation for transferring to four-year colleges.”

For at least one player, playing for the Corsairs may lead to an extended football career.

“I didn’t receive any D-1 scholarship offers out of high school. This school and this football program were the best place for me both athletically and academically,” said defensive lineman Burris.

All six former Vikings have similar plans for the future. Work hard, improve in all aspects of their game, contribute to the success of the football team and, ultimately, generate D-1 scholarship offers as a result of their play on the field.

“This is where I want to be for my two years,” Taylor said.


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