Centaurs Settle Down To Win Opener
Julius Wilson - photo by George Lasse
Mistakes Eliminated In Second Half
For the first two quarters of the Culver City High football team’s 2011 opener against West Torrance last Friday, the Centaurs looked a little shaky, even though they led by a touchdown at halftime.
Culver City’s offense scored 35 points in the first half, but the Centaurs had relied mostly on big plays, as they struggled with penalties and other miscues.
And the defense allowed 28 points in the first half, as West Torrance took advantage of the Centaurs’ poor pass defense.
But in the second half, Culver City looked a lot more like the team head coach Jahmal Wright expects to see, as the Centaurs shut down the Warriors in the final two quarters to pull away to a 51-28 victory.
Overall, Wright wasn’t completely satisfied with his team’s performance, even though his team won big.
“We made a lot of mistakes, and part of that can be attributed to the fact that it was the first game,” Wright said. “I’m happy we got the victory, but we need to be sharper on both sides of the ball.”
The biggest difference for Culver City in the second half was the play of the Centaurs’ defense, which held West Torrance to 40 total yards in the second half. The Centaurs made life miserable for Warriors quarterback Joey Notch in the final two quarters, as Notch completed just 4 of 16 passes for 18 yards in the second half after he riddled Culver City by completing 15 of 20 passes for 210 yards in the first half.
“The main difference for us in the second half is that we settled down defensively and did a much better job in pass defense,” Wright said. “We took away their screen game, and that really helped, because in the first half they hurt us a lot with those screen passes.”
Culver City sacked Notch eight times and intercepted two of his passes, including an interception return for a touchdown by Miles Washington in the fourth quarter that give the Centaurs a 49-28 lead and put the game away.
The Centaurs got a safety later in the game by tackling the West Torrance punter in the end zone for their final points.
Linebacker Keishawn Haley and Khalil Pettway led Culver City in tackles, each with 14. Lineman Anthony Tucker had seven tackles, three sacks and caused a fumble, and linebacker Derrius Morrow had six tackles, two sacks and one fumble recovery.
The Centaurs’ offense also racked up big numbers, even though penalties and turnovers made moving the ball difficult at times.
The two biggest stars of the game for Culver City offensively were receiver Alex Jackson and receiver/kick returner Julius Wilson. Jackson caught seven passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns – including a 73-yard reception for Culver City’s first TD -- and Wilson scored on an 80-yard run on an option play and also returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown. Wilson also had a 68-yard punt return that was nullified by a penalty.
Wilson – a junior who was at Culver City two years ago before transferring to Serra and then returning to Culver City – was playing his first varsity game for the Centaurs.
“Julius is very talented,” Wright said. “He’s very capable of scoring from anywhere on the field anytime.”
Quarterback Lukas O’Connor completed 9 of 23 passes for two touchdowns and three interceptions. Kevin Porche caught four passes for 48 yards and a touchdown.
“I think we need to play a lot better offensively,” Wright said. “We scored a lot of points, but it was on big plays. We never really got into a rhythm. But we did show that we can be explosive.”
Culver City put the game away in the second half as West Torrance turned the ball over on its first two possessions.
Yamen Sanders intercepted a pass by Notch early in the third quarter and returned it 32 yards to the West Torrance 30-yard line. Moments later, O’Connor threw a screen pass to Jackson, who turned it into a 35-yard touchdown to give the Centaurs a 42-28 lead.
Then later in the quarter, Washington’s interception return made it 49-28.
This Friday, Culver City takes on Palos Verdes Peninsula on the road in a day game. Peninsula defeated North Torrance, 21-12, in its opener last week.