CORSAIR FIELD — The fans were cheering, the team was singing the school’s fight song, but Samohi head coach Travis Clark was fuming despite dispatching Morningside, 27-7, Friday during homecoming at Santa Monica College.
The win improved Santa Monica High School’s football team to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in Ocean League play, but it didn’t sit well with Clark who thought his team left points on the field thanks to penalties and sloppy play.
"Tonight was a big night and I’m happy we got through it," Clark said. "We won, but we have to clean some stuff up."
Chief among Samohi’s miscues came on a long fourth quarter punt return by Sebastian LaRue that was called back thanks to an illegal block penalty. A pair of interceptions by quarterback Christian Salem also didn’t please Clark, but he said he can live with his signal caller’s aggressive play, even if it does result in turnovers at times.
Aside from upsetting their coach, Samohi’s ability to run the ball saved the day for the Vikings.
“That’s where we want to be,” Morningside head coach Sheron Butler said of Samohi’s ability to tote the rock. “We’re almost there if we can clean up some of our mental mistakes. We came out and battled, I’m pleased with that.”
Despite missing starting running back Kori Garcia, who sat due to a mild concussion, the Vikings were able to muster four scores on the ground with senior Donovan Citrowski scoring a pair of touchdowns.
Running backs London Lewis and Will Taylor also scored for Samohi during a win that keeps the Vikings’ league crown hopes alive.
“We played bad as a team,” said linebacker Chris Collins, who is being recruited by Boise State among others. “We need to come back harder next week against Culver City.”
All the disclaimers by the coach and players aside, the game was another showcase for a defense that has been able to hold league opponents to just 36 points through three games. The game could very well have been a shutout, but Morningside was able to score a late touchdown following a Samohi fumble deep in their own territory. Morningside’s Dana Dotson punched it in from three yards out to spoil the shutout, giving Clark something else to lament.
The win sets up the league game of the season thus far. The Vikings, ranked No. 8 in the CIF-Southern Section Western Division, travel to Culver City, who is tied with Inglewood at 2-1 in league play. Inglewood holds an edge, though, as they defeated Culver City earlier this season.
The Vikings, at 3-0 in league, control their destiny, a fact that pleases Clark.
“We’re where we want to be,” Clark said. “We just have to keep punching people in the mouth.”