2nd and 10 on the 40 yard line. Santa Monica quarterback Wyatt Brown (#7) attempts to evade the Palos Verdes defense Credit: Thomas Leffler

The Samohi Vikings were more than comfortable taking its playoff push on the road, using a balanced performance to take down the Troy Warriors 35-20 in Fullerton Friday night. Now 8-4 on the season, the Vikings will use this week to prepare for the CIF Southern Section Division 9 semifinals against Kaiser.

Both the offensive and defensive units scored touchdowns at Troy, highlighted by three scores from senior running back Caden McCallum. Transferring his considerable workload into the postseason, McCallum now has 207 yards and 6 touchdowns in two playoff contests, finding the endzone three times in consecutive games. The senior also shined on defense, roaming the field for a career-high 16 tackles, topping a 14-tackle performance earlier this season against Mira Costa and counting as his 8th game with at least 10 tackles.

McCallum got the scoring started for the Vikings with an 11-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, after a missed Troy field goal kept the game at a 0-0 tilt in the first period. Later tied 7-7, McCallum broke the score in favor of Samohi with a 14-yard scamper to the endzone.

Just before halftime, the Vikings defensive unit produced points of its own. A Troy drive was erased by senior David Solis-Valdovinos, who snatched an interception from the arm of Troy quarterback Rudy Alcala and returned the ball 78 yards for a touchdown.

Up 21-7 at halftime, the Vikings were in lead protection mode throughout the third and fourth frames. After the team gave up a touchdown on Troy’s opening second-half drive, sophomore quarterback Wyatt Brown captained another scoring drive, eventually finding Charles Cravings on a 33-yard touchdown strike to push the lead to 28-13. Brown was once again brilliant in the pocket for the Vikings, completing 15 of his 23 attempts for 231 yards. The Samohi record holder for regular-season passing yards, Brown has thrown for over 230 yards in consecutive contests while keeping his trademark accuracy intact.

A final Troy push came with a touchdown on the first play of the final quarter, making the score 28-20 in favor of the Vikings. To ice the contest, Samohi embarked on a methodical 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive that required both passing and rushing excellence to maintain. Keeping the drive alive was a 17-yard connection from Brown to Cravings on a fourth down in Troy territory, eventually leading to a 4-yard touchdown from McCallum to finish the evening’s scoring.

The Vikings defense again stifled the Warriors late, as the last two Troy possessions ended in a turnover. First, a fumble forced and recovered by senior Ryland Hawkins stopped a possession within the Vikings redzone. Then, the final offensive Warriors play ended in Alcula being intercepted by Griffin Seals, who had another tremendous two-way performance, adding 6 receptions for 95 yards on offense. According to MaxPreps, Seals’ 1,116 receiving yards through the Troy contest is a top 30 mark in all of California.

The Vikings will have little time to celebrate the Troy victory, as the team is looking forward to its first CIF Semifinals matchup since a 37-6 loss to Culver City on December 2, 2011. Waiting over a decade for this deep of a playoff run, Samohi will head to Fontana to face the Kaiser Cats beginning at 7 p.m. Friday. The Cats are 9-3 on the season after winning a Friday shootout with Los Osos 50-49, and feature a deep running game that produced over 3,000 yards on the ground thus far in 2023. The team’s top running back is senior Kiyel Tyler, who has averaged nearly 8 yards per carry en route to 1,438 yards through 12 games.

Samohi Football: Vikings at Troy, Vikings win 35-20
Passing: Wyatt Brown (#7, Sophomore): 15-23, 231 yds, 15.4 YPC, TD, INT
Rushing: Caden McCallum (#5, Senior): 18 carries, 72 yds, 4.0 YPC, 3 TD; Wyatt Brown (#7, Sophomore): 8 carries, 16 yds, 2.0 YPC
Receiving: Griffin Seals (#15, Senior): 6 rec, 95 yds, 15.8 YPC; Charles Cravings (#3, Junior): 3 rec, 61 yds, 20.3 YPC, TD; David Solis-Valdovinos (#9, Senior): 2 rec, 44 yds, 22.0 YPC; Caden McCallum (#5, Senior): 3 rec, 18 yds, 6.0 YPC; Isaiah Fernandez (#22, Sophomore): 1 rec, 13 yds, 13.0 YPC
Defense: Caden McCallum (#5, Senior): 16 tackles (6 solo, 10 asst), 0.5 Tackles For Loss; David Solis-Valdovinos (#9, Senior): 13 tackles (6 solo, 7 asst), 1 INT, TD; Charles Cravings (#3, Junior): 8 tackles (1 solo, 7 asst); Jayden Montanez (#71, Senior): 6 tackles (1 solo, 5 asst), 2.5 Tackles For Loss, Forced Fumble; Maui Williams (#51, Freshman): 5 tackles (2 solo, 3 asst); Ryland Hawkins (#75, Senior): 4 tackles (1 solo, 3 asst), 0.5 Tackles For Loss, Forced Fumble, Fumble Recovery; Amir Jahromi (#57, Senior): 4 tackles (4 asst), 0.5 Tackles for Loss, Pass Deflection; Darian Hawkins (#20, Sophomore): 3 tackles (3 asst); Aaron Heirigs (#49, Sophomore): 3 tackles (3 asst); Theo Naessens-Dowling (#4, Senior): 2 tackles (1 solo, 1 asst); Isaiah Fernandez (#22, Sophomore): 2 tackles (1 solo, 1 asst); Griffin Seals (#15, Senior): 2 tackles (1 solo, 1 asst), INT; Manny Lares (#24, Junior): 2 tackles (2 asst); Samuel Reynoso (#45, Junior): 2 tackles (2 asst); Payton Seals (#14, Sophomore): 2 tackles (2 asst); Jeremy Guerrero (#10, Junior): 1 tackle (1 solo); Brandon Valdovinos (#11, Senior): 1 tackle (1 asst); Carlos Gonzalez-Melchor (#44, Senior): 1 tackle (1 asst)
Special Teams: Osbaldo Rivera (#18, Junior): 5-5 PAT; Wyatt Brown (#7, Sophomore): 3 Punts, 107 yds, 35.7 YPP; Jeremy Guerrero (#10, Junior): 3 Kickoff Returns, 77 yds, 25.7 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...