October 24, 2012 |

Centaurs’ Playoff Berth At Stake

Loss To Santa Monica Mars Hopes

Instead of getting better, it seems as if the Culver City High football team’s offense is getting progressively worse.

And the Centaurs’ playoff hopes are progressively getting bleaker.

In one of its worst offensive performances in years, Culver City was stifled last Friday night in a 17-3 loss to Santa Monica, as the Centaurs were held under 200 yards and fell to fourth place in the Ocean League.

The Centaurs fell to 4-4 overall, but even worse fell to 1-2 in league, and have to win their final two regular-season games against Morningside this Friday and Beverly Hills next week just to have a chance to make the CIF Western Division playoffs. The Centaurs haven’t missed the playoffs since 2001.

Any thoughts of winning the league title were dashed by the loss to Santa Monica, which is 3-0 in league and tied with Inglewood for first place. Morningside is 2-1 in league, followed by Culver City.

“We’re fighting for our playoff lives now,” Centaurs coach Jahmal Wright said.

Wright said his team can draw on last year’s experience for hope.

Last season, a loss to Santa Monica put Culver City in a must-win situation against Beverly Hills in its regular-season finale to make the playoffs. The Centaurs won, and that started a winning streak that took Culver City to the Western Division championship game.

Now, the Centaurs have to win twice to keep their season alive.

“All we have to do is just remember last year,” Wright said. “We were in a rut for part of the season, and we pulled out of it and went far in the playoffs. We’re not giving up. I think if we can get over the hump, we’ll be a really good team. I believe better days are sure to come.”

But if that is to happen, the Centaurs’ offense will have to improve quickly. After being held to nine points two weeks ago in a loss to Inglewood, they were held to just three by the Vikings. It was the lowest point total for Culver City since Oct. 2004 in a

21-3 loss to Hawthorne.

“We’re finding it hard to get in a rhythm offensively right now,” Wright said. “We’re having too many missed assignments, too many penalties, too many mistakes. It’s frustrating. We just can’t get over the hump.”

Wright said the blame doesn’t fall on just one offensive player, but said senior Xan Cuevas needs to improve. According to statistics on maxpreps.com, Cuevas has completed just 53 percent of his passes, with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Cuevas threw two interceptions in the Santa Monica game.

But Wright said other players on offense must step up.

“It’s never on one player,” Wright said. “If we want to take our game to the next level, Xan needs to play better, but we also have to block better and catch the ball better and run the ball better. The entire offense has to step up.”

Morningside (5-3 overall) has won its last two games while not allowing a point, shutting out Beverly Hills 14-0 last week and Hawthorne 20-0 two weeks ago. Those two teams are at the bottom of the Ocean League standings, both with 0-3 league marks.

For comparison, Morningside lost to Santa Monica, 35-20, three weeks ago.

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