With Injuries, Mistakes, Centaurs Lose
Inglewood Takes Advantage, 30-10
The Culver City High football team was already hurting before last Friday’s game against Inglewood, with several key players hampered by injuries.
The pain only got worse during the game.
Much of it was due to seven turnovers committed by the Centaurs in an ugly 30-10 Ocean League loss to the Sentinels that put a speed bump in front of Culver City’s hopes of reclaiming the league title.
The Centaurs fumbled the opening kickoff, and it only went downhill from there, and even though Culver City’s defense kept the game close for the first half, the offense killed any chances of victory.
“The turnovers killed us,” Centaurs coach Jahmal Wright said. “Whenever you turn the ball over that many times, it’s hard to beat anyone, let alone a good team like Inglewood. From the beginning of the game, our sloppy play hurt us.
“And injuries are catching up to us. You can’t use it as an excuse, though, you just have to have other guys step up.”
Entering the game, Culver City (5-2 overall, 1-1 league) already had injury issues. Alex Jackson, who suffered a dislocated shoulder a couple of weeks ago in practice, was still in pain. Receiver/kick returner Julius Wilson has been hampered by a groin injury.
Then in the Inglewood game, offensive lineman Kevin Melendez hurt an ankle, and another lineman suffered a thumb injury. And running back Akili Skannal was also injured.
And top offensive lineman Michael Candler has already been out several weeks. So the injuries are piling up quickly.
“We’re just really banged up right now,” Wright said. “Not having some of your best players on the field, or having them not at full strength, it’s tough to be a really good team. I think the injuries are especially tough on offense. With playmakers like Alex and Julius and Akili and our linemen injured, it’s playing a real key factor in our offense not being efficient.”
Culver City’s offense certainly seemed affected against Inglewood (2-5 overall, 1-1 league), with the Centaurs losing two fumbles and quarterback Lukas O’Connor throwing five interceptions.
Wilson fumbled the opening kickoff, and then four consecutive Culver City possessions ended with an O’Connor interception. But despite the miscues, the Centaurs only trailed 10-7 at halftime.
But Inglewood quarterback Derrick Woods put the Sentinels in control when he scrambled for a 75-yard touchdown run on third-and-10 to give Inglewood a 17-7 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, a Culver City assistant coach reportedly pushed Inglewood kicker Manuel Paez on the sidelines, resulting in the coach’s ejection and a brief shoving match between the two teams.
Whether or not that fired up Inglewood, the Sentinels came up with a big turnover on the next play, forcing a Culver City fumble. That eventually led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Woods to give Inglewood a 23-7 lead.
“We just have to cut down on the mistakes,” Wright said. “No matter who’s on the field, we have to play with more efficiency and discipline.”
O’Connor completed 29 of 47 passes for 299 yards, with one touchdown and the five interceptions. Skannal ran for 83 yards on 12 carries, Porche caught nine passes for 71 yards, and Michael Horchin caught seven passes for 89 yards and a TD.
On defense, Khalil Pettway and Keishawn Haley each had 13 tackles, Jonathan Jackson had 11 tackles, Yamen Sanders had seven tackles and Anthony Luckett had an interception.
Culver City takes on Hawthorne on the road this Friday, but they won’t be facing the same old Cougars. Hawthorne – which went 2-48 overall and 1-24 in league play the past five seasons – is 5-2 overall and 1-1 in league play in 2011. So the Centaurs probably won’t have an easy time against the Cougars as in recent years.
Meanwhile, Santa Monica defeated Beverly Hills, 34-16 to gain sole possession of first place in the ocean League.