Culver City Observer -

Crenshaw To Provide a Major Test - Centaurs Will Learn How Good They Are


September 30, 2009

Last Friday, the Culver City High football team survived an early scare to defeat Centennial of Compton, 42-23, to improve to 3-0.

But that difficulty -- which lasted only two quarters -- may be nothing compared to the test that awaits Culver City this week.

On Friday Culver City hosts Crenshaw, the No. 1-ranked team in Southern California by the Los Angeles Times and No. 5 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports. The Cougars, who reached the L.A. City semifinals last season, are 3-0 this season, having already defeated Lakewood -- the No. 5 team in the Times’ poll -- in their opener.

Crenshaw is widely regarded as the best team in the L.A. City Section.

“Those rankings are well-deserved. Crenshaw is everything everyone is saying they are,” Centaurs coach Jahmal Wright said. “They’re a fast, physical, tough team. But if we play they way we’re capable of playing, we can give them a game.”

The Centaurs are well-acquainted with the Cougars, having played Crenshaw the past two seasons. Last year, Crenshaw capitalized on Culver City mistakes to take a 21-0 lead, and then held off a late comeback by the Centaurs to win 21-14. Two years ago, the Centaurs defeated the Cougars 30-13 in a game that featured trash talking on both sides.

“When we played them two years ago, there was talking back and forth,” Wright said. “They thought we were a suburban team and they could intimidate us, but we showed we weren’t going to back down. Last year, there was no talking, just a hard-fought game.”

Junior running back De’Anthony Thomas, who ran for two touchdowns and over 140 yards rushing in the first half of last year’s game against the Centaurs, is one of the main stars for Crenshaw, and the Centaurs’ defense will have to key on him, even though he has been hampered by a sprained ankle in recent weeks.

Junior quarterback Marquis Thompson, senior running back/linebacker Hayes Pullard and senior receiver/defensive back Gregory Ducre are also key players for Crenshaw.

“We’re very familiar with who they are,” Wright said of the Cougars. “We won’t do anything differently. We’re just going to go out there and compete and let the chips fall where they may.”

Against Centennial, the Centaurs’ defense failed to compete in the first quarter and a half, with several lapses leading to a 17-6 Centennial lead by the middle of the second period.

“We made a lot of mistakes on defense early in the game,” Wright said. “We had a lack of focus, some missed assignments on third and fourth down, and Centennial capitalized on them.”

Wright said some of the players might have been looking ahead to the Crenshaw game.

“We preached the whole week about staying focused on Centennial, but I think some players were definitely looking past them and to the Crenshaw game,” Wright said.

Culver City began to rally in the second quarter, as quarterback Marquel Carter ran for a 6-yard touchdown to pull the Centaurs within four points, 17-13, then he intercepted a pass, setting up his 1-yard touchdown run with 24 seconds left in the first half to give Culver City the lead, 21-17.

Alex Johnson had a touchdown-saving tackle after the kickoff to keep the Centaurs ahead at halftime, and in the second half Culver City broke the game open by scoring on three straight possessions, as Carter threw two touchdown passes and Edwin Tillman had a touchdown run to put the Centaurs ahead 42-17 in the fourth quarter.

Carter had a huge role in the game, completing 21 of 32 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. He also ran for two touchdowns and intercepted two passes on defense.

“Marquel was everywhere,” Wright said. “He really was a huge part of us winning the game.”

Tillman ran for 167 yards on 12 carries, while Devin Sylvester caught seven passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns and Noah Ashley caught six passes for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Culver City had 546 total yards.

On defense, Victor Burnett had 13 tackles and two sacks, and Herman Davis and Chris Brown each had interceptions.


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