Last year, it was running back Will Taylor lighting up the Stadium by the Sea with three touchdowns on the ground. On Friday night, he set up the spotlight for fellow senior Kwame Duggins, as the Samohi Vikings power game rolled to a 44-15 win over the Pali High Dolphins.
"This is that pivotal game where we got to get that running game going. I had to establish the running game," said Samohi head coach Travis Clark. "Last week (at Redondo Union), we felt it was bottled up and that was a little frustrating. So we went back to the drawing board and we came out today and they kind of found the running lanes."
Duggins scooted in for two rushing touchdowns while Taylor added another to help Samo jump to a 30-7 halftime lead. And the timing couldn't have been better as Samo is still auditioning their three varsity quarterbacks for the starting position.
Junior Nico Basile sat out with a minor ankle injury after his clutch performance against Redondo a week ago, allowing Jordan Detamore and Rudi Olmedo to get some quality game snaps. Detamore let the running game take care of business while Olmedo delivered two touchdown passes in the second half, both to De'Jai Whitaker.
"I'm still not going to make a decision (on the quarterback position)," added Clark. "I think this competition is great. They'll all get opportunities. I'm not going to sit anybody on the bench. I'm not going to say 'This guy's the guy' unless he proves to be the guy."
Defensively, the Vikings put up some points of their own when cornerback Kevin Persons returned one of his two interceptions 71 yards to pay dirt in the second quarter to add to that large halftime margin.
But as the game wore on, so did the Dolphins' big running back Joseph Velez.
The rumbling rhino put up Pali's only score in the first half when he broke three tackles and ran away from the rest for a 78-yard touchdown run.
Then, continued to wear down the first string Samo defense throughout the second half.
But one man could not beat the well-coached Vikings on this night, so Samohi's focus shifts to Mater Dei in Friday's home opener. After the 51-0 drubbing in Santa Ana a year ago, Coach Clark is hoping for a more favorable score for the hometown crowd.
"They're going to play a perfect game, and that's what I look forward to," he said. "I look at those (types of) programs as 'The Elite,' and we're trying to get there. It's a young group, and I'm really encouraged with the way our young group is playing.
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