The rising seniors on Santa Monica High’s football team were hungry to prepare for their final prep season on the gridiron. They were only missing one thing: a coach.
The arrival of Ramsey Lambert in June made for a hectic summer for the Vikings, who are hoping to improve on last year’s 5-6 campaign with a new man in charge.
“The biggest challenge was the late transition of not knowing who their coach was,” said Lambert, who replaced Travis Clark at the helm after one season at La Canada. “Not seeing me until June was tough on them. They were excited to get a coach and eager to get one so they could begin. The seniors were very eager to get started. The transition has been nice. They’ve worked extremely hard.”
Samohi players have spent the summer practicing fundamentals and slowly implementing new schemes on offense and defense while getting accustomed to Lambert’s expectations for effort and conduct.
All the while, of course, Lambert has been trying to figure out the best spots on the field for each of his players before the season opener Aug. 28 at Torrance.
The Vikings had not officially named a starting quarterback as of last week, although Lambert said the competition is primarily between returning junior Ryan Suggs, senior Ulysses Perez and senior Jordan Maness. All three could also see time at wide receiver this year.
“They’re getting their reps and pushing each other and coaching each other to get the best possible person at that position,” Lambert said.
Regardless of who’s under center, Lambert wants Samohi to be a quick-passing, run-heavy team with a focus on controlling the line of scrimmage.
The team’s success will hinge in part on the efforts of the offensive line, which is led by returning center Sean Wheeler and fellow senior Juan Castillo.
“We’re not going to confuse them with a bunch of plays,” Lambert said. “We want them to master the ones we’re teaching them. We have some core guys who are really pushing that group. They’re taking the younger guys under their wings, and they have a lot of pride in their positions.”
Wheeler, Castillo and company will be tasked with paving lanes for a running backs crew that includes seniors Ricky Saucedo and Charlie Whitesell. Saucedo and Whitesell will likely see time at linebacker when the Vikings are on defense.
“You have the home-run hitters, the power backs, the slipper backs who make plays and get first downs,” Lambert said. “We’re deep on the array of skills. As linebackers, they have that athleticism and body type. They’re physical and can run side to side. They can cross over pretty well.”
Because the team has been adjusting to playing under a new coach, Lambert didn’t put an emphasis on facing off against other teams in camps and scrimmages.
“I’ll never throw a kid into a position where he can’t be successful,” he said. “By the time I got here in June, we just needed more time. We just focused on us this summer.”
Lambert also launched a $7,000 fundraising campaign to replace outdated equipment and offset the costs of camps and travel.
Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, email@example.com or on Twitter.