Playoff push: Receiver Griffin Seals (#15) was sparkling in postseason play, catching 12 balls for 155 yards in the contest. Credit: David E. Hunzicker Photography

A remarkable turnaround season for the Samohi Vikings football squad hit yet another peak on Nov. 3, as the team was victorious in a back-and-forth overtime affair against Santa Ana. The 33-27 win was the first playoff victory for the Vikings since 2019, which was also the last winning season for the team until the 6-4 regular season record in 2023.

Held on home turf in poor visibility due to fog in the area, the Vikings turned an early 14-0 deficit into victory behind the dual threat of quarterback Wyatt Brown, who continued his record-breaking 2023 campaign with a sparkling playoff performance. Already holding the single-season passing yards record for his sophomore season, Brown threw for 278 yards on 24 completions against Santa Ana, as well as adding two crucial touchdowns in the rushing game.

After falling behind 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Vikings were able to move the ball into scoring position, punctuated by a 7-yard score from senior Caden McCallum. McCallum, who hit the 1,000-yard mark for the Vikings this season, carried the ball 23 times for 135 yards and three scores against Santa Ana.

Down 17-7 nearing the end of the half, the Vikings went to the air after a kickoff return from Jeremy Guerrero set the squad up at midfield, with the combination of Brown and receiver Griffin Seals marching the Vikings into the redzone. Needing a score before the half, Brown switched from his arm to his legs on 4th down, evading a Santa Ana pass rush and running 13 yards for a touchdown. Seals was sparkling in postseason play, catching 12 balls for 155 yards in the contest.

Visibility continued to deteriorate as the second half began, with defense dominating the first possessions for both teams before another McCallum touchdown, this time a 59-yard score, grabbed the home team its first lead of the game at 20-17. A responding Santa Ana touchdown left the Vikings with another deficit, this time at 24-20, with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

With the Vikings season on the line, Brown was brilliant on the final regulation drive, hooking up with Charles Cravings on a 4th-and-3 conversion before hitting Seals with a completion that took the team deep into the Santa Ana redzone. With just one minute remaining, another Brown scramble touchdown secured a 27-24 lead for the Vikings.

The final regulation possession saw Santa Ana in Vikings territory, and after what looked like the last play in heavy fog, Samohi students mistakenly rushed the field thinking the Vikings were victorious. Santa Ana actually had one second on the clock, and after removing students from the field, a 37-yard field goal tied things up at 27 apiece as regulation expired. Students once again rushed the field after the field goal, believing the kick to have missed in the dense fog.

Santa Ana had the first chance at ending the contest in overtime, but two short runs and an incomplete pass forced the opponent into a missed field goal attempt. The Vikings then took over on the Santa Ana 25-yard-line, with Cravings breaking a tackle after a catch to set the squad up on the 2-yard-line. On the very next play, McCallum plunged his way into the endzone, with the raucous Samohi faithful finally getting to rush the field properly.

Now 7-4 in 2023 after the playoff win, the Vikings have moved on in the CIF Southern Section Division 9 brackets, now faced with tackling the Troy Warriors on Friday evening at Fullerton High School. Like the Vikings, Troy finished the regular season 6-4, defeating Monrovia in its first postseason matchup by a 41-28 score. The Warriors feature a three-headed monster in the backfield, with three running backs rushing for over 500 yards in 2023.

Samohi Football:
Nov. 3- Vikings vs Santa Ana, Vikings win 33-27 (OT)
Passing: Wyatt Brown (#7, Sophomore): 24-38, 278 yds, 11.6 YPC
Rushing: Caden Mccallum (#5, Senior): 23 carries, 135 yds, 5.9 YPC, 3 TD
Wyatt Brown (#7, Sophomore): 11 carries, 23 yds, 2.1 YPC, 2 TD
Receiving: Griffin Seals (#15, Senior): 12 rec, 155 yds, 12.9 YPC
Charles Cravings (#3, Junior): 6 rec, 69 yds, 11.5 YPC
Payton Seals (#14, Sophomore): 4 rec, 42 yds, 10.5 YPC
Isaiah Fernandez (#22, Sophomore): 1 rec, 13 yds, 13.0 YPC
Caden Mccallum (#5, Senior): 1 rec, -1 yds, -1.0 YPC
Defense: Jayden Montanez (#71, Senior): 9 tackles (4 solo, 5 asst)
Caden Mccallum (#5, Senior): 8 tackles (5 solo, 3 asst)
Samuel Reynoso (#45, Junior): 4 tackles (3 solo, 1 asst), 1 Tackle For Loss
Theo Naessens-Dowling (#4, Senior): 4 tackles (2 solo, 2 asst)
Charles Cravings (#3, Junior): 4 tackles (2 solo, 2 asst)
Amir Jahromi (#57, Senior): 3 tackles (1 solo, 2 asst), 1 Tackle For Loss
Maui Williams (#51, Freshman): 2 tackles (2 solo), 2 Tackles For Loss, 1 Sack
Manny Lares (#24, Junior): 2 tackles (2 solo), 1 Pass Deflection
Aaron Heirigs (#49, Sophomore): 2 tackles (2 solo)
David Solis-Valdovinos (#9, Senior): 2 tackles (1 solo, 1 asst), 1 Pass Deflection
Darian Hawkins (#20, Sophomore): 1 tackle (1 solo)
Payton Seals (#14, Sophomore): 1 tackle (1 solo)
Jeremy Guerrero (#10, Junior): 1 tackle (1 asst)
Brandon Valdovinos (#11, Senior): 1 tackle (1 asst)
Kidus Woldegiurogis (#8, Senior): 1 Pass Deflection
Special Teams: Osbaldo Rivera (#18, Junior): 3-4 PAT
Wyatt Brown (#7, Sophomore): 2 Punts, 88 yds, 44.0 YPP
Jeremy Guerrero (#10, Junior): 4 Kickoff Returns, 61 yds, 15.3 YPR

Thomas Leffler has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from Penn State University and has been in the industry since 2015. Prior to working at SMDP, he was a writer for AccuWeather and managed...