SMC Football Team Falters in Season Opener

SMC Football Team Falters in Season Opener

The Santa Monica College Corsair Mens football team Defensive Back #11 Rashod Richards (center,blue) stops a possible touchdown run by The West La College Wildcats Wide Reciever #16 Rashod Richards (white,right) in the 3rd quarter. The Corsairs would loose at home in Santa Monica Calif. to the Wildcats 47-34. September 3rd, 2016.
The Santa Monica College Corsair Mens football team Defensive Back #11 Rashod Richards (center,blue) stops a possible touchdown run by The West La College Wildcats Wide Reciever #16 Rashod Richards (white,right) in the 3rd quarter. The Corsairs would loose at home in Santa Monica Calif. to the Wildcats 47-34. September 3rd, 2016.

The Santa Monica College Corsair Mens football team Defensive Back #11 Rashod Richards (center,blue) stops a possible touchdown run by The West La College Wildcats Wide Reciever #16 Rashod Richards (white,right) in the 3rd quarter. The Corsairs would loose at home in Santa Monica Calif. to the Wildcats 47-34. September 3rd, 2016.

   Photo by: Daniel Bowyer

Corsair Stadium was filled Saturday afternoon with excited fans anticipating SMC’s first home game of the season against West LA College. This season’s football team has large shoes to fill, considering last year’s conference champs had a perfect 11-0 record. The pressure was on new head Coach Bill Laslett who intends to “create a new chapter for Santa Monica athletics," as he stated during a previous interview with The Corsair.

Unfortunately for fans expecting a second undefeated season, the dream ended after game one with SMC losing 47-34.

“We had a lot of new guys out there and our pacing was off. We started out really slow, which is unusual for us. We were also missing some starters on defense…although Weston, the quarterback, did a great job since it was his first time in there," said Coach Laslett. "Hopefully we will get them next week.”

The Santa Monica College Corsair Mens football team Quarter #17 Weston Massett (left,blue) just gets the football thrown before The West La College Wildcats Defensive Lineman #53 Weston Massett (white,right) can get a sack. The Corsairs would loose at home in Santa Monica Calif. to the Wildcats 47-34. September 3rd, 2016.
The Santa Monica College Corsair Mens football team Quarter #17 Weston Massett (left,blue) just gets the football thrown before The West La College Wildcats Defensive Lineman #53 Weston Massett (white,right) can get a sack. The Corsairs would loose at home in Santa Monica Calif. to the Wildcats 47-34. September 3rd, 2016.

The Santa Monica College Corsair Mens football team Quarter #17 Weston Massett (left,blue) just gets the football thrown before The West La College Wildcats Defensive Lineman #53 Weston Massett (white,right) can get a sack. The Corsairs would loose at home in Santa Monica Calif. to the Wildcats 47-34. September 3rd, 2016.

   Photo by: Daniel Bowyer

The loss came as a surprise considering SMC beat West LA College 48-21 last year, but there was a silver lining in the form of sophomore quarterback Weston Massett. Massett scored five touchdowns and had a total of 316 passing yards. Last season, Massett lived in the shadow of star quarterback Troy Williams, who accounted for 38 touchdowns and is currently a quarterback for the University of Utah.

But will Massett’s performance today be enough to grant him the starting quarterback position for next week’s game against Palomar? Massett’s main competition is 6’4 210lb sophomore Brock Raggio. Raggio was unable to play in today’s game against the Wildcats, but his return next week raises the question of whom Coach Laslett will crown starting quarterback.

Whichever quarterback ends up starting in next week’s game, he should be confident in the quality of SMC's receivers, who were responsible for 316 of the total 423 offensive yards gained. The receiving core consists of newcomers Conor McMahan, Andre Bannister, tight end Sam Murphy, and returning sophomore Hakeem Zeb. These athletes scored all five touchdowns for SMC in their opening game. McMahan, a sophomore transfer student from Weber State particularly displayed great promise, debuting with two touchdowns.

Santa Monica College Corsair Quarterback Weston Massett (17) makes a run with the ball against the West Los Angeles Wildcats on the Corsair Field in Santa Monica, California on September 3, 2016. West Los Angeles wins 47 to 34 against Santa Monica.
Santa Monica College Corsair Quarterback Weston Massett (17) makes a run with the ball against the West Los Angeles Wildcats on the Corsair Field in Santa Monica, California on September 3, 2016. West Los Angeles wins 47 to 34 against Santa Monica.

Santa Monica College Corsair Quarterback Weston Massett (17) makes a run with the ball against the West Los Angeles Wildcats on the Corsair Field in Santa Monica, California on September 3, 2016. West Los Angeles wins 47 to 34 against Santa Monica.

   Photo by: Jose Lopez

The running game, led by sophomore running back Kwame Duggins, had a tough time penetrating West LA’s defense, and ended the day without a touchdown and only 107 yards rushing. Duggins attributed his difficult performance to a lack of blocking: “We have to be able to trust that our teammates will be there to make the blocks,” he said.

Bernard Tyler, father of left tackle Darius Tyler, voiced his opinion on the effectiveness of SMC’s offense: “We‘re doing very well on the pass, but we need to implement more effective running to allow ourselves to open up the pass and take this game over.”

Although SMC’s offense put up a good fight, its defense looked chaotic compared to last year’s dazzling defensive squad, which allowed only 18.8 points per game. Compare that to the 47 points given up by SMC’s defense against West LA, and it's clear that there are vital changes to be made.

Santa Monica College Corsair Kenneth Wilson (32) helps take down West Los Angeles Wildcat running back Kejuante Austin (20) on the Corsair Field in Santa Monica, California on September 3, 2016. West Los Angeles wins 47 to 34 against Santa Monica.
Santa Monica College Corsair Kenneth Wilson (32) helps take down West Los Angeles Wildcat running back Kejuante Austin (20) on the Corsair Field in Santa Monica, California on September 3, 2016. West Los Angeles wins 47 to 34 against Santa Monica.

Santa Monica College Corsair Kenneth Wilson (32) helps take down West Los Angeles Wildcat running back Kejuante Austin (20) on the Corsair Field in Santa Monica, California on September 3, 2016. West Los Angeles wins 47 to 34 against Santa Monica.

Photo by: Jose Lopez

The revelation that SMC’s defense needs immediate revamping came during the 2nd quarter, when West LA’s running back Jayden Dillard ran for three consecutive first downs in the same drive. Each of Dillard’s runs was fifteen yards or more, which set up a 13-yard touchdown pass to Rasheed Cox that gave the Wildcats an early nine-point lead. Dillard was nearly untouchable the rest of the game, scoring two touchdowns and rushing for 174 yards.

So what is the reason for such a sub-par showing on the part of SMC’s defense? The answer may lie with the linebacker core, which lost three big playmakers from last season. Linebackers Birdel Hodge, Joseph Dews, and Marquis Lomax combined for a total of 89 tackles, 16 sacks, and 4 interceptions last season, and their presence was sorely missed against West LA.

SMC’s season opener may have left some fans disgruntled, especially since last year’s team elevated the expectations for the SMC football program. However, this game against West LA College may not be an accurate indicator of SMC’s full potential. Ineligibility issues plagued Coach Laslett's roster in today’s game, and those issues will be resolved when SMC suits up to play Palomar College on Saturday, September 10.