Key Injuries Slow Down Centaurs
By Fred Altieri
Fe. Fi. Fo. Fum. It was “déjà vu all over again” for the 2013 edition of Culver City High football. It occurred Friday night in the expansive outdoor stadium within the impressive athletic complex at Paramount High, just south and east of where the Century and Long Beach Freeways intersect.
The host Pirates seemed and actually were bigger and faster and stronger than the Culver’s previous foes, which translated into a convincing 35-14 victory over the visiting Centaurs.
“Their offensive line is real big. Their strength is upfront and because we were missing our two starting inside linebackers, a starting corner and a starting free-safety, they decided to attack our weaknesses and really made an effort to run the football.” stated Culver Head Coach Jahmal Wright.
And just like the previous two weeks, Culver gave up the first score but quickly responded to tie the game 7-7 with their passing game.
Coach Wright, “We had two touchdowns. Lonnie Walker caught both of them. David Handler threw him one long bomb for 43 yards.”
And one onside kick later, Culver had the ball near midfield and the momentum. “We executed an onside kick in the first half. We’ve recovered three kickoffs this season and that is something we work on in practice as well.”
But the Centaurs didn’t capitalize. Wright on the Pirate defensive scheme, “Our offense was determined by how Paramount played us. We had to pass the ball because they had six to seven guys inside the box committed to the running game. They played a lot of man-to-man coverage.
“As a team we had 295 total offensive yards. We passed for 244 total yards. We rushed for 51 yards. We had 52 total offensive plays, 37 pass plays and 15 rushing plays.”
A major part of the Culver offense was absent. “We had two starting receivers who didn’t play in the game, Marcus Moore and Stanley Norman. Our starting free-safety and receiver Jericho Flowers also didn’t play. They have made a lot of big plays for us this season. So we were very short-handed.”
It was a different story for Paramount and their planned attack against the weakened Centaur defense. Wright spilled the numbers, “They ran the ball 41 times for 247 yards and three touchdowns. They had 55 total offensive plays, 14 pass plays and 41 rushing plays. They had 368 total yards.”
The go-ahead Pirate touchdown run came just after a Culver injury. Wright offered, “Our starting inside linebacker Ty’Jason Roberts didn’t play and Remy Grundy, our starting linebacker, injured his knee on a third and one play.
“It affected the game because the very next play they scored on a 25-yard run. Our inside linebacker is supposed to make that play. They ran it into that gap.”
Notable was that the state-of-the-art video scoreboard was inoperative for the entire first half which forced the official time and score to be kept on the field.
The scoreboard soon awakened after a 21-7 Paramount halftime lead just as the early night’s cooling winds died down. There was nothing subtle about the arrival and departure. The Pirates struck again later in the third quarter but the Centaurs refused to quit as Walker scored his second touchdown of the game.
Wright added, “Armani Rogers threw the touchdown to Walker 10 yards on a roll-out play. Rogers was five for 18 for 55 yards with one touchdown and one interception. David Handler was nine for 19 for 189 yards. He threw one touchdown and two interceptions.”
“Our leading rusher was Armani Rogers. He had nine attempts for 42 yards. Donavan Davis had five attempts for 13 yards. Receiving, Lonnie Walker led the way with four receptions for 62 yards and two touchdowns. Mark Conley had three receptions for 52 yards. Brandon Hasson had two receptions for 72 yards.
“Defensively, Anthony Polk led the way with 10 total tackles, five solo and five assisted. He had two tackles for losses. Jeremy Marrero had 10 total tackles as well, four solo, six assisted. Remy Grundy had seven solo and three assisted tackles. Aaron Brown had seven solo and six assisted for 13 total tackles.”
But much work is needed according to Wright, “We have to find a way to put together four quarters of football. We’re still a little bit inconsistent with our efficiency. We have to do a better job of running the football as well as cut down on our turnovers. With three interceptions and one fumble, four turnovers is not going to get it done.”
Culver had the ball deep in Paramount territory for most of their remaining possessions but came away empty-handed each time.
“I thought we were still in the game and had a shot going into the fourth quarter. My boys kept fighting. Even though we were short-handed the guys kept fighting to the end,” said Wright.