Meet The Culver Football Players
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Part 2 of an interview with Jahmal Wright, Culver City High head football coach)
By Fred Altieri
The players have been optimistic all summer. We have a lot of brand new starters and they’re getting their opportunity to be on the field. But we’re excited and they’re excited as well.
We’re coming off a year where we graduated eight starters on defense. We have a new group that we’re grooming and are excited about the group as a whole. We’re fast. We’re physical. We just lack a little experience but we’ll gain that as we go along during the season.
We play a brand of team defense. We fly to the football. We’re an aggressive blitzing style of defense and we try to get after you. We try to use our speed and athleticism. Defensively, we can run in and out anywhere from 17 to 19 guys.
The secondary is probably our most solid group in the defense and I’m excited about the front seven: our three linemen and our linebackers. Together they’re going to carry the torch of successful Culver City defenses that play fast, hard, disciplined football.
On our defensive line we have three new starters, two juniors and one senior, full with talent and young exuberance. We just lack a little experience but we’re confident in those guys. Probably the guy we’re leaning on the most would be junior Fred Wadibia who was the best JV defensive lineman last year. We think we’re going to make some big plays.
We graduated three out of the four linebackers. We run a 3-4 defense so the lone linebacker coming back from that team is Remy Grundy. We moved him from the outside to the inside linebacker position and will have three new talented guys coming in to join him.
We’re super excited about our secondary. We return our two cornerbacks. One corner is all-league, all-CIF and sophomore All-State Stanley Norman. He’s an explosive athlete and has eight offers, one from USC, one from UCLA and a couple of other PAC-12 teams.
On the other side we have Kevin Beacham, who started all 12 game last year and is a very talented athletic DB as well. Our two safeties are two juniors, first year starters but also very talented.
I expect our offense to pick up right where we left off and score some points for us. We pride ourselves on being in shape and playing the game fast. Being out here on this turf, on this new field, we think it’s going to help our offense really run up and down the field and score some points.
We’re a no-huddle spread, fast up-tempo style of offense. We have a lot of speed in the receiving corps. We’re excited about the guys that are going to be catching passes from our quarterbacks.
For the receivers, heading that monster is going to be junior Brandon Hasson. He is the 100m and 200m Ocean League champion and one of the fastest sophomores in the state last year. He’s had a great off-season, a great summer. We’re expecting him to lead the way, but not just him, all of the receivers. We’re going to have a big year.
On the offensive line we have a whole new group, five brand new starters. They’re unproven but they’ve been working hard. We’re going to get them up to speed and ready to man the offensive line so we can have an explosive offense this year.
We have an exciting trio of running backs. Leading the way is junior Donovan Davis. He’s the premier tailback, was our second leading rusher last year and made some great plays only getting six or seven touches a game. He’s a scat-back, change-of-direction type runner. He uses his speed and quickness to get to where he has to go.
David Handler is the starting quarterback right now but we have a couple of other guys that we rotate in. David has the keys to our offense and we’re expecting him to lead the way.
We’ve been very successful in having very good punt and kickoff return teams in the past. Stanley Norman returned three punt returns and two kickoff returns for touchdowns last year. With him and a couple of other explosive guys, we have some exciting punt and kickoff returners.
We have a new kicker this year. His name is Nico Melendez. So we’re just bringing him along slowly. He will also be the punter.
The role of our team captains is to be the leaders in the locker room, the voice of the players and to get them in control. We believe that the players should have ownership of the team. We as coaches lead those players but we want them to have a voice as well. The more they have ownership of what’s going on the harder they’ll work for us.
So our team captains are very pro-active in making sure that our players understand our goal as a team. We rely on them.