With their first six games of the season scheduled at home, the Santa Monica High School Vikings might start the first half of their season the way they hoped.
Santa Monica College Corsair Field, the Vikings’ home field, is proving to be a comfortable location for Santa Monica, as the Vikings have started off the new season with two dominating victories there.
First was a 46-21 win over Hueneme High School of Oxnard in the season opener, and next was a 35-0 shutout of the Palisades High School Dolphins Friday, September 14th.
The next four games for Santa Monica (2-0) are scheduled at Corsair Field, so if the Vikings continue to rise to the occasion at home, they very well might be undefeated by the time the first half of the season is over.
But that’s also if they can get through their first true test of the season in rival Venice High School.
The Venice Gondoliers (2-0), the 15th-ranked team in the Southland by the Los Angeles Times, have defeated the Vikings the past four seasons and will look to continue their recent reign over Santa Monica in a non-league game scheduled at 7 p.m. Friday, September 21st.
Santa Monica coach Zach Cuda said he is pleased at how the Vikings have kicked off the season but he knows they will need to rise to another level if they are going to topple the Gondoliers.
“We’ll have to beat them in the trenches,” Cuda said of Venice. “We’ve had a good first two weeks but now we get to test it against the real thing.”
In the game against the Palisades Dolphins (1-1), Santa Monica got on the scoreboard early with a touchdown in the quick first quarter and put the game away by halftime, with a 28-0 lead.
After being forced to punt in their first drive, the Vikings got a boost on offense with a 20-yard pass by senior quarterback Ryan Katz to senior wide receiver Jon Dunn.
Katz, who finished eight-of-11 for 117 yards passing and two touchdowns in the game, completed the drive with an eight-yard touchdown pass to junior Christian Ross with 1:40 remaining in the first quarter.
The Dolphin offense struggled to get going against the Viking defense and was forced to punt in its first three drives of the first half.
Santa Monica took advantage and added its second touchdown on a five-yard run by senior Jah-herb Johnson for a 14-0 lead.
Junior running back Vince Lawrence, who led the Viking running attack with 18 carries for 112 yards, brought Santa Monica down the field in its next drive and capped it off with a one-yard touchdown run with 3:26 remaining in the second quarter.
The Palisades offense then ran into even more trouble, as senior quarterback Michael Latt’s pass was intercepted by Santa Monica senior Al-rilwan Adeyemi, who returned the football 43 yards to the Palisades 17-yard line.
Katz then topped off the defensive play with another 17-yard touchdown pass to Ross, giving the Vikings a commanding 28-0 lead at halftime.
Referring to his team’s dominant performance against Palisades, Cuda said the amount of physical work the Vikings did while preparing in the off-season seems to have paid off.
Palisades continued to have no answer against the Santa Monica defense after halftime, but after the Vikings added one more touchdown on a ten-yard run by Ross with four minutes left in the third quarter, the team sat its key offensive players for the remainder of the game.
Senior linebacker Max Monbouquette led the Viking defense with 14 tackles in the game.
Coming into the game against Palisades, Cuda said the primary focus for Santa Monica was working to fix the mental mistakes from the first week of play.
“We wanted to focus on eliminating our mental errors and play fundamentally sound football,” Cuda said.
The Vikings will hope to be free of any mental mistakes when the Gondoliers come to town.