The LookOut sports

Santa Monica Sports Notes

Dain Blanton of Santa Monica has earned a berth on the U.S. Olympic beach volleyball team. Blanton and partner Eric Fonoimoana of Hermosa Beach clinched the berth at the recent Belgian Open. Blanton was a star at Pepperdine in the early '90s.

Another U.S. Olympic volleyball player will be former Long Beach State All-American Misty May witth partner Holly McPeak. May spent her early years in Santa Monica.

Construction has been completed on the Crossroads School gymnasium, meaning the school's teams won't be searching all over town for home courts anymore. The first event in the new structure on 17th and Olympic Blvd. was a clinic last week conducted by former Roadrunner star guard Baron Davis, now of the Charlotte Hornets.

Samohi Optimistic As Football Practice Begins

By Mitch Chortkoff

A new era in Santa Monica High football will begin today when two-a-day practices begin for the upcoming season.

The Vikings will have a new coaching staff and will play in a new league. There appears to be tremendous interest around town as former assistant Norm Lacy returns after building a championship program at St. Monica High in the last 10 years.

There are high expectations because Samohi will play in the Ocean League, which is perceived to be weaker than the Bay League, where they struggled in recent years.

Lacy is taking a cautious approach, saying the Ocean League will present strong challenges too. But he believes his team can do well.

``We had a great 15 days of spring practice,'' said Lacy. ``We worked hard in the summer getting ready for the season. There's a CIF-mandated period where you stop working but then double-days begin and we're anxious to get back at it.

``Our team is committed and we're going to be ready. We open against two L.A. City schools who have been allowed to practice the last two weeks so we'll be at somewhat of a disadvantage. But our focus in on ourselves and developing our program.''

The opener will be against University Sept. 8. It's a home game for Samohi, which played at Unihi last season and won, 27-14. Unihi will have a new coach because Andrew Haas, who was there the last two years, resigned and moved to New England.

Lacy has turned the offense over to assistant Tebb Kusserow, who returns to coaching after a nine-year absence. Before that Kusserow was the head coach at Samohi for 18 years and went to the playoffs every year but two.

Lacy will concentrate on defense and, typically of his past programs, had players lifting weights extensively in the summer.

``It's a major advantage to have Tebb on campus,'' said Lacy. ``We're in the same department so I can talk to him all the time. He's a great coach and I can leave the offense to him and focus on defense.''

Last season, when Donald Paysinger was the head coach, the Vikings' offense featured sophomore quarterback James Cooper and sophomore receiver Charles Gordon. They're back, but the attack will probably be more balanced.

Sources indicate Derrick Davis, a premier running back, is considering a transfer to Beverly Hills High, where Paysinger now assists head coach Carter Paysinger, his brother. If Davis leaves the Vikings will have to develop a running threat. Last year's star, Joe Young, was a senior.

Samohi must also improve a porous defense. Giving up more than 50 points three times the team could win only two of 10 games, the same record as the previous season.

Paysinger developed young players on the lower level teams and asked for one more season to put his program together. But Samohi decided to make a change.

When Lacy coached at St. Monica he'd work with about 30 players. This season 115 turned out at Samohi. As a result the Vikings will field three teams instead of two.

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