Questionable Call Mars Centaurs' Opener
West Torrance Spoils Festive Occasion
By Fred Altieri
Opening game for the 2013 Culver City High football team started off with a bang at home on the new synthetic turf field complete with a capacity crowd in newly constructed stands on a perfect September Friday night.
Centaur wide receiver Stanley Norman caught a 48-yard touchdown from quarterback David Handler late in the first quarter giving Culver High the initial lead.
But ultimately the formidable opponent, West Torrance, was able to tie the score twice, take a 22-15 first half lead, withstand a determined third quarter Centaur defensive effort, get a reprieve from a game-changing called-back touchdown run and finally take advantage of a tired Culver defense to put the game out of reach, 36-15.
An hour earlier pre-game ceremonies with students, cheer squads, the school marching band, fans, administrators, former Culver High athletic director Jerry Chabola, former head football coach and current athletic director Tom Salter dedicated the new field as well as a parade comprised of the entire Centaur athletic programs honored the occasion as they marched on the also newly installed running track circling the field.
Centaur Head football coach Jahmal Wright, “I thought West Torrance did a good job of playing defense. They kept us away from making the big explosive plays. After our first score, the 48-yard touchdown, West Torrance did a good job of controlling our big plays and our speed because they had a couple of defensive linemen that were outstanding, did a good job controlling the line of scrimmage, as well as our inability to run the ball.”
“They also sacked us five times. We were ineffective as far as throwing the football because of the pressure on the quarterback. They did a good job of causing a lot of traffic. Give them credit for that. That was pretty much the outcome of the game. Because we weren’t able to move the ball our defense was on the field for a long time and they got tired.”
Norman, who scored 14 of his team’s 15 points, on Culver High’s first strike: “It was a seam play. They tried to pretty much bracket me, double-team me. I blew past one defender and then this safety was just trying to back peddle with me so I just blew past him. I tell my quarterbacks, “If the safety is back-peddling throw the ball. Put it somewhere. I’m going to get it.”
West High managed to tie the score on a blocked punt early in the second quarter after being stifled by a stingy Culver defense from the start.
Coach Wright explains, “The blocked punt was huge for them because in the first quarter we were able to shut West Torrance out. They couldn’t get anything going on their offense. Our defense was doing a great job. That was kind of a momentum shift in the beginning of the second quarter.”
Norman was instrumental once again, this time defensively, as West High threatened to take the lead on a run from the Culver three-yard- line,
“I play free safety and saw the big guy right there and I just tried to hit him. And the next thing I see the dude swinging the ball I just literally took it from him. It never touched the ground. I hit the sideline and was gone. I knew I was going to score.”
Norman ran for the two points after touchdown to give the Centaurs their last lead at 15-7. West High responded with two quick scores for their halftime lead.
Both teams played lock-down defense in the third quarter until an apparent stunning 93-yard touchdown dash, and what would have been Norman’s third of the game, down the left side of the field was called back on an extremely rare penalty against the Culver sideline.
Coach Wright recalls, “The 93-yard touchdown that Stanley Norman ran for in the third quarter that was called back was a big turning point in the game. It was an awesome play. That had put us back in the game.”
Norman reiterates, “Basically it was a read option and I saw an open lane and took it. I knew they were going to over-pursue so I set it up to the left and just hit it down the middle and it was a wide-open shot. Unfortunately they called it back.”
The momentum shift was the turning point of the game and Culver never recovered. Coach Wright summed it all up, “We have to give West Torrance Coach Greg Holt and his team credit. They had a good game plan and those boys did a good job of executing and were able to get the best of us. Their defense was able to neutralize what we wanted to do.”