The Culver City High football team started the 2009 season last Friday with a new head coach and several new players on defense, but one thing looked very familiar: The Centaurs’ high-octane offense.
Senior quarterback Marquel Carter, beginning his second season as the Centaurs’ starter, showed he is poised to have a big season, throwing for three touchdowns and running for two more to lead Culver City to a 49-21 victory over St. Bernard in Jahmal Wright’s debut as the team’s coach.
Wright, who served as both offensive and defensive coordinator during the past nine seasons, took over as the head coach after Tom Salter resigned. In his first game leading the team, Culver City seemed to pick up right where it left off in the 10 seasons under Salter.
The Centaurs led 14-0 after the first quarter, 35-7 at halftime and 49-7 after three quarters as they defeated the Vikings for the sixth straight year.
“I was very pleased with how we executed on offense and defense,” Wright said. “We were very sharp. I’m happy we got that first one down.”
Wright admitted he started feeling nervous early on game day.
“Those butterflies in my stomach were very intense,” he said. “It started around first or second period of my P.E. class.”
Once the game began, however, the Centaurs didn’t take long to make their new coach feel at ease.
Junior running back Marquise Smothers scored on an 18-yard run in the first quarter for Culver City’s first touchdown, and Carter added a 4-yard run later in the period. Then Carter threw touchdown passes of 8 yards to Noah Ashley, 25 yards to Devin Sylvester and 75 yards to Cruz Cueva in the second quarter.
Senior linebacker Victor Burnett had a 25-yard interception return early in the third quarter, and Carter finished the Centaurs’ scoring with a 5-yard run.
“We were sharp as a nail on offense,” Wright said. “Our timing was flawless. I was really pleased with our execution and effort.”
Defensively, the Centaurs actually were helped by St. Bernard’s decision to change up its offense from previous years, Wright said.
“St. Bernard switched up and went with a spread, no-huddle offense, and we’re used to seeing that,” Wright said. “Our defense sees that every day in practice, so it actually gave us an advantage.”
Carter completed 14 of 27 passes for 254 yards and three TDs, and he ran for 50 yards and two TDs on seven carries. Junior running back Crae Taylor ran for 60 yards on eight carries, and Smothers ran for 39 yards and a TD on four carries.
Cueva caught four passes for 120 yards and a touchdown, while Ashley caught three passes fore 52 yards and a TD and Sylvester caught four passes for 55 yards and a score.
On defense, Burnett had 12 tackles and the interception for a TD, while Herman Davis had 10 tackles and broke up three passes, Billy Sanchez had nine tackles and Chris Goree had an interception.
This Friday the Centaurs face Peninsula of Palos Verdes on the road. Peninsula lost its opener to Lakewood, 28-7, last week.