CITYWIDE — A season toiling on a football field had its rewards for local players.
A total of five Santa Monica High School Vikings were named to the CIF-Southern Section Western Division First Team, it was announced on Monday.
Across town, St. Monica placed one on the Northeast Division team.
“This was a great season,” Samohi Head Coach Travis Clark said. “These kids all deserve it. What a great feeling to see these kids accomplish so much in the end.”
Following a breakout season for Samohi, running back Kori Garcia, offensive lineman Matthew Schultz, wide receiver Sebastian LaRue, linebacker Chris Collins and defensive back Dylan Muscat earned first-team honors. All are seniors with the exception of LaRue, who is a junior.
The all-division selections for Samohi aren’t the first the Vikings have earned this postseason.
Samohi qualified 15 players for the All-Ocean League last month with Garcia winning Most Valuable Player and Collins earning the MVP on defense.
For St. Monica, senior offensive lineman and team captain Justin Kennedy made the cut for the first team.
“Not only is he student body president, but he’s the best leader on the team,” St. Monica Head Coach Adam Guerra said. “It hurts to have him graduate.”
The CIF-SS honor for Kennedy comes on the heels of the Mariners placing nine on the All-Santa Fe League.
The first team includes: Kennedy as a defensive lineman, senior offensive lineman Patrick Romero, junior running back Kevin Holubowski, senior linebacker Chris Corbally, junior defensive back JP Kaczor, senior running back Sean Martinez and freshman defensive back Bryant DeGrate.
The second team includes: sophomore offensive lineman Angel Galdamez and junior wide receiver Lukas Dretzka.
The honors come as Guerra completes his first season as coach. He came into the season with high hopes and lived up to his goal of making it to the playoffs before being eliminated by California City in the first round.
“It was a good first year, but not a great one,” Guerra said. “We’re already working on next season in the weight room and I like what I see. They are really starting to buy into the program.”
Samohi’s honors were the result of the Vikings’ best season in a decade. They finished 11-2 and advanced to the semifinals of the division playoffs where they were defeated by Ocean League rival Culver City.
Garcia believes that these latest accolades are an outcropping of what his class was able to accomplish in their four years on campus.
The fact that Muscat was also named to the All-CIF team was particularly satisfying because the pair have played football together since their Pop Warner days. They, along with quarterback Christian Salem and wide receiver Anthony Hernandez, have known each other since they first started school 12 years ago.
“It made me rethink about my years of playing Pop Warner with these guys,” Garcia said. “We’ve become a tight-knit family.”
Next for area football players is the recruiting process, with the group from Samohi receiving the most attention.
Collins is seriously considering Boise State and Garcia and Muscat are being looked at by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Garcia is slated to take his four campus visits in the next month with a decision expected to come soon thereafter.
Despite being injured for much of the season, offensive lineman Chad Wheeler has already graduated and signed with USC. He’s now on campus and preparing for next year.
“Recruiting is big for us,” Clark said. “I’ve been working my butt off to get these kids to where they should be.”