The roller coaster ride that has been the Culver City High football team’s 2010 season is on the rise.
The Centaurs, who have been up and down all season, hit a high point last Friday when they defeated Beverly Hills 49-34 in their regular-season finale to clinch a CIF playoff spot. It was a game they had to win to make the postseason, and Culver City came up with one of its best offensive performances of the season when it needed it most.
Culver City’s defense also came up big, as the Centaurs built a 36-7 lead and held off a rally by Beverly Hills to make the playoffs for the ninth consecutive year.
The Centaurs hit the road to take on Chaminade of West Hills, the second-place team from the Mission League, Friday at 7 p.m. in the first round of the Western Division playoffs.
The Centaurs didn’t achieve their goal of winning a fifth straight Ocean League title, but they finished tied for second, and given the win-or-go-home situation, coach Jahmal Wright was pleased with how his team responded.
“We had a lot to play for,” Wright said. “We had a bad taste in our mouths from the loss to Santa Monica (two weeks ago), and we needed to redeem ourselves. And then we were playing Beverly Hills, our big rival, and that’s always significant. And then we were fighting for our playoff lives.
“We had a lot of motivation, and the players really responded to the challenge.”
With the victory, Culver City (6-4 overall) finished in a three-way tie for second place in the Ocean League, as the Centaurs, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica each finished with 3-2 league records. The Centaurs got the second-place spot and an automatic playoff berth because Culver City had the lowest margin of defeat in losing to league champion Inglewood (which went 5-0 in league).
The Centaurs lost to Inglewood by just six points, while Beverly Hills lost by 10 points to the Sentinels and Santa Monica lost by 21.
Inglewood and Culver City got the two automatic CIF playoff spots from the Ocean League, while Beverly Hills got an at-large bid. Santa Monica was left out of the postseason.
So the Centaurs get to play at least one more week, but it won’t be an easy task. Chaminade (9-1 overall) finished the regular season in second place in the Mission League with a 4-1 league mark, trailing only league champion Serra.
Chaminade, whose only loss was to Serra, was ranked No. 3 in last week’s Western Division poll behind only Serra and Dominguez.
The Eagles have a potent rushing attack, led by sophomore Terrell Newby and senior Tru Jarvis, who have combined to run for 1,528 yards. As a team, Chaminade averages over 200 yards per game rushing.
As for the Centaurs, Wright said the team’s offensive consistency will be the key to any playoff success.
“We still have some work to do offensively,” Wright said. “We moved the ball and got some points against Beverly Hills, but we didn’t make some plays that we should have made. We have to be more consistent in our passing game.”
The offense was good enough to help Culver City take a 36-7 lead over Beverly Hills by the second quarter. But the Normans scored a touchdown to make it 36-14, and then on the first play after the kickoff, the Centaurs fumbled and Beverly Hills returned the ball for a touchdown to make it 36-21.
Then the Centaurs’ Ret Tilman kicked a school-record 53-yard field goal to give Culver City a 39-21 lead at halftime.
Beverly Hills scored the first touchdown of the second half to cut Culver City’s lead to 39-27, but that was as close as the Normans would get.
Centaurs quarterback Jordan Arrington had a solid performance, completing 7 of 20 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. Kevin Porche, operating out of the wildcat formation, completed 2 of 2 passes for 65 yards and two touchdowns.
Crae Taylor ran for 56 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
Alex Jackson caught two passes for 34 yards and a TD. Michael Horchin caught only one pass, but it went for a 63-yard TD.
The Centaurs’ defense forced six turnovers, including three interceptions, two fumbles and a blocked punt. Culver City’s top defensive players were Ryan Mulvihill (15 tackles, one sack), Ronald Jones (9 tackles and a fumble recovery), Ky Dorsey (9 tackles, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt), Anthony Luckett (35-yard interception return for a touchdown) and Ijumaa Armstrong (48-yard interception return to set up a touchdown).