When the Samohi Vikings step onto Bishop Montgomery field Friday, it will be the school’s first playoff appearance in football since 2014.
Having notched six wins in the regular season, the Vikings are hoping to collect a couple more this postseason, and Coach Matthew Kirk believes the team has the ability to.
If the team wins Friday’s matchup against 4-5 St. Bernard High School, Samohi will host a home game the following week against the winner of Friday’s Inglewood and Banning matchup.
Kirk said the team has done well this year — evident in the attention it has garnered from the Los Angeles Times — and he’s proud of how well the team has continued to prepare for the upcoming game.
“We’re really treating it like a new season and the plan is we want to be playing here four more weeks, which will take us to the finals the day after Thanksgiving,” Kirk said. “So we’re hoping to be practicing on Thanksgiving because if you’re practicing on Thanksgiving you’ve had a good year.”
The arm of Anthony Arnou has been a major factor in the team’s success as the senior quarterback has thrown for more than 1,800 yards on the year and is close to breaking the school’s all-time record for passing touchdowns in a season. The record is 20 and Arnou currently sits at 19.
Citing his years of starting experience, Arnou said during Wednesday’s practice that he feels no pressure for the upcoming matchup and he feels if the team takes it seriously, they’ll come out victorious Friday night.
“Obviously, every team in the playoff isn’t bad or weak, so we gotta get our mind right,” Arnou said, “but I feel like we have the edge in this game.”
Kayden Thomas agreed, stating the team has had a good week of practice and it’s feeling great.
“We’re going to play them how we play everybody else,” Thomas said. “We’re going to play smart, do our jobs and hopefully come out with that (win).”
Thomas has caught more than half of Arnou’s touchdown on the year, according to Kirk, but the two-way player has also had an impact on the defensive side of the ball where he’s secured 10 interceptions.
Donovan Parks, a self-described lockdown defensive back who plays opposite of Thomas, said it’s amazing to think that his team went into El Segundo with a rowdy atmosphere and can now say they’re the first team in five years to make it to the playoffs.
Arnou said the highlight of the year was the Gatorade bath the team gave its coach after the win and he hopes to wash the coach in a few more gallons before the season is up.
Parks, a senior, added he’s nervous, “but totally focused. I do not want my high school football career to end with anything else but a championship.”
Most of the team’s captains have played since freshman year, so they said they appreciate being able to bring winning football back to Samohi.
Colby Bell, a senior tight end who’s enjoying his first year on the team, said this week that he’s thankful for the support from fans.
“It’s really cool to see that people are showing up for us now,” Bell said, “and believing in us as we get into the playoffs.”