The LookOut sports

Santa Monica Sports Notes

Rumors had circulated that Santa Monica College football coach Robert Taylor might resign following a 1-9 season. However, Taylor seems determined to stay and bring the program back to prior levels. He expects at least 30 returning players to begin an off-season proram when the second Winter quarter begins Jan. 7.

However, Taylor faces two major obstacles. The season ended in turmoil with several players quitting the squad in the final weeks. Now, with Taylor determined to recruit some members of Santa Monica High's championship team other community colleges have entered the hunt. It is believed El Camino College wants receiver Charles Gordon and linebacker Pete Roses, among others. LA Harbor and LA Southwest are other possibilities for the Samohi players who aren't offered scholarships to Division 1 schools...

Samohi tied Bishop Montgomery in boys soccer, 1-1, but it goes down as a loss because the Vikings were outscored, 5-3, on game-deciding penalty kicks...

The St. Monica High boys basketball team, currently competing in holiday tournaments, will begin league play Jan. 9 at St. Anthony...

The Jr. Pee Wee team of Santa Monica Pop Warner football won the Pacific Coast Conference championship...

Brandon Bowman, a resident of Santa Monica who plays basketball for Westchester High, has signed a letter of intent with Georgetown...

Samohi's Lacy Named Coach of Year

By Mitch Chortkoff

While reporting the success of Santa Monica High's football team all season we knew it was a major story locally.

Now we know it was much more than that. Samohi's Norm Lacy was named Coach of the Year by the Los Angeles Times this week, meaning he was the winner among all high school football coaches in Southern California.

There are more than 500 schools playing in 13 divisions. Of everyone's efforts, Lacy's work was judged the best as he directed Samohi to the Division 10 championship.

Lacy's overall job performance in the last two years was taken into consideration. He took over a Samohi team with consecutive 2-8 records and immediately transformed it into a winner of nine games in 2000, along with just three losses. This season Samohi went 11-2 and defeated North Torrance in the championship game, 28-14.

The Times also honored Long Beach Poly running back Herschel Dennis as Player of the Year, running back Lorenzo Booker of St. Bonaventure as Back of the Year and Winston Justice of Long Beach Poly as Lineman of the Year.

On its all-regional team covering the South Bay and Westside, Samohi placed receiver Charles Gordon and defensive lineman Josh Smith.

The magnitude of Lacy's accomplishment is illustrated by the fact his Vikings played in Division 10. In a much higher division of teams who receive much more Southern California-wide publicity Bob Johnson did a terrific job at Mission Viejo High.

Mission Viejo won the Division 2 championship and Johnson was a strong Coach of the Year candidate. He had won three championships previously at El Toro High, then stopped coaching to watch his sons, Bret and Rob play college football. Rob went on to the NFL where he plays for the Buffalo Bills.

Johnson returned to coaching two years ago at Mission Viejo, which didn't have a tradition of winning championships. Like Lacy, his presence shows the importance of having a first-rate coach at the high school level. He installed a winning program complete with discipline. This season Johnson and Lacy both won their division championships.

It was a tough decision for the voters but Lacy's work was judged to be a little better. Taken into consideration was the fact Lacy's Vikings lost to Inglewood and Paso Robles last season --- the teams that reached the Division 10 championship game -- and he realized the Vikings had to become even better than they were in 2000. They did.

He saw the task as winning a CIF championship, not merely being satisfied with vast improvement, and was able to instill in his players the need to be the best. The fact that a semifinal win over Paso Robles and the championship win over North Torrance were both accomplished on the road was taken into consideration too.

Lacy has a 20-5 record in two seasons at Samohi. He's a former Samohi assistant who was bypassed for the head coaching job 12 years ago, went to St. Monica High and won a CIF Division 11 championship and ultimely was brought back. All the time he coached at St. Monica he was a teacher at Santa Monica during the day.

Lacy's story is a remarkable one in the history of Santa Monica High football, which had won six CIF championships previously, the first one coming in 1920.

There are important challenges ahead. Lacy may have to do without Tebb Kusserow, his mentor who came out of a nine-year retirement to be Samohi's offensive co-ordinator the last two years. Kusserow made a two-year commitment and is considering retiring again.

Samohi will remain in the Ocean League, which is likely to be upgraded to a higher division, making the playoff task next season more formidable.
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