(photo by Morgan Genser)

CORSAIR FIELD — Sitting pretty at 2-0, Samohi’s Head Coach Travis Clark is thinking about opening up a bit.

Santa Monica High School’s football team is coming off an impressive 33-15 win over rival Palisades and it has Clark thumbing through his playbook pondering what he can add next to an offense that has been clicking on the ground and, most recently, through the air.

“Since we’ve started this thing out, we’ve been adding slowly,” Clark said. “People will see different things from us every week.”

Clark was careful to protect his hand, but he did reveal that senior quarterback Christian Salem would be given a little more free rein against Anaheim Canyon on Friday at Santa Monica College’s Corsair Field. Salem is coming off a 282-yard, two-touchdown performance against Pali.

Salem wasn’t asked to air it out much during the opener against Leuzinger, but last week’s showing opened Clark’s eyes and playbook. He’s careful to not overload the first-year starter, but is confident that his signal caller is grasping the Vikings’ increasingly complex offense.

“We’re going to add a little something here and there,” Clark said, “but, we’ll keep doing what has worked as long as it works.”

The one consistent for Samohi has been the play of its tandem of running backs led by senior Kori Garcia. Garcia has been nothing short of spectacular, racking up five touchdowns during this young season.

Garcia will again be handed the ball early and often, but Clark wants to add different dimensions to the running game.

Senior transfer London Lewis will factor into the mix as will sophomore Will Taylor.

“I like to mix things up, I don’t want teams knowing what’s coming,” Clark said. “Last year we relied on [wide receiver Kris] Comas so much that by the end of the year great teams took him out. We can’t afford that this year.”

At this point last season, Comas had amassed 300 yards receiving and seven touchdowns.

While last year’s team did include Garcia, the Vikings relied on Comas to ignite the offense. This year’s edition of Samohi football is more balanced with skill at multiple positions. The emergence of Sebastian LaRue at wideout and the steady play of Dylan Muscat gives the Vikings more balance this time around.

Samohi’s playmakers have even started to capture the attention of opposing coaches as they create a game plan to cope with the attack.

“They have size and speed,” Canyon Head Coach Brent McKee said. “We’ll have our hands full.”

McKee singled out Garcia and LaRue as his most pressing concerns but noted that USC-commit Chad Wheeler is the cornerstone of the Viking offense. The tall offensive lineman has been at the center of many of Garcia and London’s long runs, often having the play run right behind him.

“No doubt, we’ll have to fight to hang in there,” McKee said of his 0-3 team. “We know that they are going to line up and run it right at us.”

Samohi’s offense may be set heading into Friday’s third-straight home game to begin the season, but its defense is ailing.

Out is defensive tackle Tim Darby, who separated his shoulder against Pali. The junior may have to miss the entire season as a result of the injury.

“He was starting to come into his own,” Clark said.

Clark will look at a platoon including Andres Meza to fill the void left by Darby’s absence.

Another trouble spot is at linebacker, where mainstay Chris Collins continues to battle a knee bruise suffered in the opener. Collins played sparingly last week against Pali, but he was able to make a few crucial tackles and recovered a fumble.

Clark said he’ll be a game-time decision.

“It’s not worth the health of my kids for a football game,” Clark said of the possibility of holding Collins out. “He may need more rest.”


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