It may be a little cliche to say, but honestly, their record isn’t as bad as it looks.

Sure, the Samohi Vikings varsity football team ended the season with a 3-7 overall record, going 1-4 in their league games, but those games were much closer than they appeared.

Despite having a near-identical record to last year’s efforts (3-7, 2-3 under Ramsey Lambert) first-time head coach Matthew Kirk was unfazed by his team’s record. He says with just a few stops, the Vikings’ record could easily have been 7-3 overall and a playoff team.

“We lost a lot of games by just seven points or less,” Kirk said. “Wish we had players healthy because we never once got a chance to have everyone together at one time. When we do, when we’re healthier and stronger, we’ll improve.”

He says next year he may hand off offensive or defensive playcalling duties to one of his other coaches and adds he may still try to bring some collegiate coaches to help build the team.

Kirk also lauded his team’s efforts this year, from admin and coaching staff to his players, a few of which he’s excited about their return next season.

He made note of juniors Donovan Parks, Kayden Thomas and first-time starting quarterback Anthony Arnou efforts this year.

Parks had 24 tackles, 1 sack and 3 interceptions as a starting corner this season while Thomas had 26 tackles and 1 pick. Kirk says both are lockdown defensive players and will be two to watch next season.

As for Arnou, Kirk has high hopes for the first-time starting signal caller.

“He had a solid year and the kid continues to learn. Never been a starter before, transferred here from another school… but he’s gonna be a major guy going forward. Not just here, he’s going to be a top-five quarterback in the state.”

The 6’3, 200-pound Arnou threw for 1,725 yards and 16 touchdowns against only 5 picks this season, according to MaxPreps.com

“I like to think I had a very successful season,” Arnou said. “I didn’t turn the ball over that much and I was able to get a lot of yards, spread the ball around and put our team in position for some pretty nice drives.

“What also works for me is a coach I can talk to and share my opinion with and [Kirk] fits that description. He’s a relaxed and fun coach but he works us hard when he needs to. It’s been a good balance.”

Arnou said that despite some rough bumps (a 54-14 drubbing from Culver City High and a 23-0 shutout from West Torrance High), he feels the team is on the precipice of big things, a sentiment Kirk echoed.

“There’s a lot for them to be proud about,” Kirk said. “The crowd really liked the games. All those teams that beat up on us last year didn’t do that this year. Everyone sees a difference, a growth. We’re going to be there in the mix next year. The kids know it, the city knows it, and the league knows it, too.”

angel@smdp.com

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