Sam Vaulton leads Venice to dominating victory over Palisades

Venice quarterback Sam Vaulton throws a pass during the Gondoliers' 36-0 victory over Palisades.
Venice quarterback Sam Vaulton throws a pass during the Gondoliers’ 36-0 victory over Palisades.
(Craig Weston / For The Times)

Good things come to those who wait. That was certainly true for Venice High senior quarterback Sam Vaulton on Friday night.

The 18-year-old transfer from Tennessee enjoyed a near-flawless first half in his debut for the Gondoliers (1-0), who christened their new field with a 36-0 victory over Western League rival Palisades (0-1).

“The scrimmages really helped us prepare and get ready for this game,” Vaulton said in his distinct Southern accent. “We’re pretty close, we’re all friends and we have a good bond together.”

Vaulton completed 18 of 27 passes for more than 200 yards and four touchdowns and added nearly 50 yards rushing. J.J. Thurman and Jaboree Thornton each had five receptions for the Gondoliers, who avenged a 38-14 defeat in 2019 — their largest margin of defeat ever in a crosstown rivalry that dates to 1961.


Despite many obstacles to overcome for several LAUSD schools to start a spring football season, Crenshaw hosted Reseda, with the Regents winning 22-14.

“We wanted a change of scenery, my dad got a job out here and I wanted to be able to throw the ball somewhere,” said Vaulton, who moved to California right as the coronavirus outbreak hit. He had led Alcoa High to the Tennessee Class 3A state championship in 2019.

“Coach [Angelo] Gasca has a good history of quarterbacks so we thought this was a good place for us.”

Despite having fewer games to prove himself, Vaulton hopes to have his name mentioned in the same breath as the All-City signal-callers Venice has produced over the last two decades — a list that includes JP Losman, Anton Clarkson, Zander Diamont, Robbie Blosser, Alexander De La Cruz and, most recently, Luca Diamont.

Vaulton engineered touchdown drives on each of the Gondoliers’ first three possessions, ending the first with a one-yard sneak and tossing scoring strikes of 14 yards to Lynale Moore and 15 yards to Donald Moss Jr. to give Venice a 20-0 lead at halftime.

“These receivers are special,” Vaulton said. “We all feel comfortable out there together. I mean, they make plays for me. I just get them the ball and they do the rest. It was a good game and we won and that’s all that matters.”

Venice quarterback Sam Vaulton, right, runs with the ball during Venice's victory over Palisades.
Venice quarterback Sam Vaulton, right, runs with the ball during Venice’s victory over Palisades on Friday.
(Craig Weston / For The Times)

Gasca, who played for Venice in the mid-1970s and has been head coach since 2000, was thrilled that his team got to play and his quarterback got to show off his talent.


“I think Sam’s as good as all of the quarterbacks we’ve had here,” Gasca said.

“He’ll be a Division I quarterback. He’s also a straight-A student and a fantastic person.”

A look at how The Times’ top 25 high school football teams fared on Friday.