The Centuars Fall to Lompoc
For most of the past two and a half months, the Culver City High football team’s season has been something of a roller coaster ride.
But just as the ride seemed to be getting really interesting, it came to an abrupt halt last Friday night.
The Centaurs started the season by winning three of their first four games, then hit a lull that threatened to leave them out of the playoffs, then recovered to win their last two regular-season games and their first CIF-Southern Section playoff game to appear on the way to another magical postseason run.
But whatever momentum Culver City had was no match for Lompoc and its 31-game winning streak that dates back to 2010. The Braves came into Culver City last Friday and methodically won its 32nd in a row with a 49-6 victory over the Centaurs in the second round of the Western Division playoffs.
Lompoc (12-0), which is aiming to win the Western Division title after taking home back-to-back Northwest Division titles the past two seasons, took a 28-6 lead at halftime and never looked back. Meanwhile, the Centaurs (7-5), who appeared to get back on track late in the season, resembled more the team that struggled in late September and much of October.
Not that their best effort would have likely made much of a difference against Lompoc, which hasn’t lost since October of 2010. The Braves, with one of the most potent rushing attacks in the CIF, ran for 380 yards against Culver City.
The Centaurs were held to negative rushing yards.
So as much as Culver City would have liked to repeat last year’s playoff run, which extended all the way to the Western Division championship game, the Centaurs were simply defeated by a better team.
Centaurs quarterback Xen Cuevas spent much of the game scrambling, as he was repeatedly harassed by Lompoc defensive linemen and linebackers. The Braves had five sacks in the game.
Culver City put up a brief fight early when the Centaurs stopped Lompoc’s offense on a fourth-and-1 play and then drove deep into Lompoc territory. But the Centaurs had to settle for a field goal by Anthony Caiseros, and Lompoc took a 7-3 lead soon after on a 52-yard run by Nikko Hayes.
It was 14-6 after the first quarter and 28-6 at halftime.
Julius Wilson provided one of the few big performances for Culver City, catching four passes for 123 yards.
On the bright side, Culver City made it to the CIF playoffs for the 11th straight season, as coach Jahmal Wright has continued a resurgence that began when Tom Salter took over as coach in 2000. Wright, in his fourth season as the Centaurs’ head coach, is 32-16 overall since taking over as head coach in 2009.
This season was marked by highs and lows. After starting 3-1, the Centaurs went 1-3 as their offense struggled to find consistency, with Culver City scoring just 19 points total in those three losses.
Then Culver City recovered to win games against Morningside and Beverly Hills to close out the regular season and make the playoffs. The Centaurs beat Dos Pueblos in the first round of the playoffs before losing to Lompoc.
Culver City won the Ocean League in Wright’s first season as head coach in 2009, but since has finished second in 2010 and 2011 and third this season. The goal for the Centaurs for 2013 will be to try to get back to the top of the league standings.
The Ocean League has no teams left in the playoffs. Inglewood and Santa Monica have been eliminated. Serra, which was upset by Culver City last year, routed Santa Monica, 58-6.