Santa Monica High once was among the top football programs in Southern California. The Vikings won Southern Section major division titles in 1920, '41, '47, '52 and '53, won the Coastal Conference championship in 1981 by defeating Long Beach Poly and returned to the final the next season. The Vikings, however, have not won a league title since 1988.
That could change this season if Santa Monica maintains the momentum that has helped it win five consecutive games under second-year Coach Norm Lacy. Santa Monica's 44-14 victory over El Segundo on Friday improved the Vikings to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in Ocean League play heading into a key game this week against Inglewood.
"You try to convince the kids that you just can't work hard from August to December, you have to do the off-season work to have it pay off for you," Lacy said. "We're starting to make inroads."
Lacy has been teaching at Santa Monica since 1977 and worked as an assistant for 13 years under Tebb Kusserow. When Kusserow resigned in 1990, Lacy applied for the job but was not hired. He became head coach at Santa Monica St. Monica and built that program into a winner while continuing to teach at Santa Monica.
After Santa Monica finished 2-8 overall and 1-6 in the Division III Bay League in 1999, Lacy replaced Donald Paysinger as coach.
As part of the biennial reshuffling done by the South Bay Athletic Assn., the Vikings were moved to the Division X Ocean League last season and finished 8-2 overall and 4-2 in league play.
Quarterback James Cooper, running back Derrick Davis and receivers Charles Gordon, Terrel Maze and Chris Gary have led Santa Monica this season. Cooper completed 11 of 14 passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns, Gordon had 10 receptions for 217 yards and two touchdowns and Davis scored three touchdowns against El Segundo.
"We spread it around so we're not going to be among the stat leaders too often, but anybody who watches us play has seen that we have four or five guys that at any given moment can make things happen," Lacy said.
"If you take away one, there is someone else that can be just as effective."
Appeal hearing: Alta Loma, ranked 20th in the region by The Times, improved to 7-0 overall and 2-0 in the Mt. Baldy League with a 16-0 victory over Etiwanda on Friday, but the team's playoff chances could ultimately be decided at an appeal hearing today at the Southern Section offices in Cerritos.
The section found that Alta Loma used an ineligible player and has notified the school that it will forfeit all games he played in. School administrators will appeal the decision before the section's executive committee.
Early finish: Game officials ended the Western League game between Westchester and University with 5:36 left in the fourth quarter when game officials determined that rough play might escalate into a brawl. Westchester was leading, 48-0, when the game was called.
'I think they made the right call," Westchester Coach Larry Wein said of the decision to end the game. 'At that point, nothing good was going to happen on the field.'
Injury report: Irvine Woodbridge won its fifth consecutive game Friday, 42-21 over Laguna Hills, but the Warriors' victory was overshadowed by two major losses.
On consecutive plays in the first quarter, senior tailbacks Will Banks and Chris Westover suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments.
"They're out for the season," Woodbridge Coach Rick Gibson said. "We hadn't seen an ACL injury in quite some years, and we've had three this year.
"The odds caught up with us in one night."
Banks had rushed for 100 yards in four consecutive games, and had seven carries for 67 yards against Laguna Hills. Woodbridge (6-1, 2-0) has a bye this week before facing Newport Harbor (6-0-1, 2-0) in a game that will probably decide the Sea View League title.
"Going into the year, I thought we had some depth at that position, and that's been wiped out in two plays," Gibson said. "You can't lose players of their magnitude and not be affected."
Especially effective: Neither Trevor Prophet nor anyone else could have predicted the impact the 5-foot-8, 150-pound senior would have on the Ventura football team after returning from a knee injury that forced him to miss all of last season. Prophet has blocked four punts, and teammate Trevor Peckham has blocked three, for a Cougar team that improved to 6-1 overall and 1-0 in the Channel League with a 27-20 victory over Ventura Buena on Friday .
"We try to line up two guys against one of [an opponent's] so it's just a matter of who they choose not to block," Prophet said.
"We rush to a spot in front of the kicker and just lay out. It takes work, so we put a cone out in practice, mark the spot and go at it."