Culver City Observer -

Four Straight Championships Again


November 12, 2009

Culver City High football coaches Jahmal Wright and Aki Wilson have a unique perspective on the Centaurs’ two four-peats.

Four-peat, as in four consecutive Ocean League titles, which the Centaurs accomplished last Friday with a 49-0 victory over Hawthorne. The win assured Culver City of at least a tie for the league title, and the Centaurs (8-1 overall, 4-0 league) can clinch the title outright with a victory on Friday at Beverly Hills.

The only other time the Centaurs won four consecutive league titles, from 1991 to 1994, Wright, the Centaurs’ first-year head coach, and Wilson, the team’s offensive coordinator, played for Culver City. So they’ve now experienced such success as players and coaches.

“It definitely feels different as a coach, but it’s kind of cool,” Wright said. “It’s really something to be on both sides of the coin. Me and coach Wilson know what it’s like to win four straight as players and now as coaches. It’s really fun to be a part of that, being a part of Culver City history.”

What is also fun for the Centaurs, who won their fifth straight, is that their defense and offense both seem to be clicking at the same time. The defense has allowed just 35 points in the past three games -- and 22 of those were given up by the second string in the fourth quarter of a blowout win over Santa Monica two weeks ago.

Wright said junior linebackers Jose Escoto and Cornelio Hernandez have filled in admirably for injured stars Victor Burnett and Khalil Pettway, who have been out for several games with injuries.

“The defense has had three good games in a row,” Wright said. “I like the way the defense has been playing. We haven’t given up as many big passing plays as we did earlier. And we’ve been pretty consistent on offense all season long. Overall, I think we’re playing good football right now.”

The Centaurs, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Western Division poll to No. 1 Mira Costa, are hitting their stride at the right time, as they finish the regular season against Beverly Hills and then begin the playoffs next week.

Against Hawthorne, senior quarterback Marquel Carter passed for two touchdowns and ran for four scores as Culver City sent the Cougars (0-9, 0-4) to their 41st consecutive loss dating back to 2005. The Centaurs led 42-0 at halftime and never looked back.

For the season, Carter has thrown for 2,495 yards and 27 touchdowns, and has rushed for 431 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Edwin Tillman caught a touchdown pass and ran for a score against Hawthorne, while Josh Brown also caught a TD pass. Jonathan Zisner, Billy Sanchez and John Jackson each recovered fumbles, and Chris Brown had an interception.

Wright said Pettway will return to action this week, while Burnett, who has a knee injury, will not return until at least the playoffs, but Wright added that there’s no definite timetable on when – or if – he will be back this season.

“The decision is up to Victor and his doctor,” Wright said. “Victor has a bright future and we don’t want to jeopardize that.”

Beverly Hills comes into Friday’s game with a 4-5 overall mark and 2-2 league record. The Normans defeated Morningside last week, 31-0.


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