New QB Rogers Sparks Offense
By Fred Altieri
The year was 2013. The stadium said otherwise. And like a Dali painting, the football was warped by time. So began Culver City High’s Ocean League campaign.
A win transposed within the weathered but friendly confines of Hawthorne High’s Halcap Field, named after South Bay legendary football coaches Hal Chauncey and Dave Capelouto, whom had nurtured the Cougars into a perennial powerhouse dating back to the 1950’s.
Now the steady onshore autumn night breeze swept as it must have decades ago, across a playing field but now centered as a large half-worn mound, gradually but unevenly falling towards the sidelines. Even the deeper end zone grass was an accomplice along with the pre-modern press tower and the ‘old school’ scoreboard in need of some light bulbs showing 27-7, the final score.
Hawthorne’s program, rebuilding under the new command of Head Coach Donald Paysinger, immediately seized the advantage with a long kickoff return to start the game. A few plays later the scarlet clad Cougars had their only lead of the game.
Centaur head coach Jahmal Wright noted, “Hawthorne was definitely a vastly improved team than years past. That’s a testament to Coach Paysinger. He’s been coaching for a long time, is very knowledgeable of the sport. In fact, he has a son who’s playing linebacker in the NFL for the New York Giants.
“He did a very good job at Beverly Hills High over the years. When you have a solid coach in place you can see the results.”
Culver City returned the favor on the ensuing kickoff as Kevin Beacham blazed a diagonal trail to the Hawthorne eight-yard line. A few plays later the uniform-white Centaurs tied it up 7-7 when quarterback Armani Rogers ran it into the southern end zone.
Rogers has replaced David Handler as the starter.
“Rogers led the way. He was 7/17 for 154 yards with two passing touchdowns and one interception. He also led the way in rushing with nine rushes for 75 yards and one touchdown. Donovan Davis also had five attempts for 24 yards and one touchdown.”
Wright continued down the offensive stat list: “We passed the ball 21 times and ran the ball 25 times. We passed for 189 yards and ran for 139 yards. Marcus Moore led the way with three receptions for 58 yards and one touchdown. Stanley Norman also had three receptions for 53 yards and one touchdown.”
Just before halftime, Davis put Culver ahead for good with a short burst. The Centaurs put the game out of reach in the third quarter with two passing touchdowns but more importantly their defensive unit was close to firing on all cylinders.
Wright expounded, “Defensively, I thought we did a great job not letting them in the end zone. However, I would like to see us get more stops and not miss assignments on defense so that we can execute the play that’s called more efficiently, so that we can be a lot more solid and give the ball back to the offense. We want to shore that up because we are going to be playing against some solid opponents the next couple of weeks.”
“Serrano had eight four solos and four assisted tackles and two of the team’s six quarterback sacks. Remy Grundy led in tackles with seven solos, two assisted and one for loss. Fred Wadibia had seven total tackles, three solos and four assisted with one sack.”
“Beacham also had one interception that he returned for 14 yards. Hawthorne ran a total of 48 plays, ran the ball 28 times for only 70 yards rushing. So they averaged about 2.5 yards per rush. And they passed the ball for 113 yards.” Beacham’s interception was a beauty, fighting off a Cougar receiver on the goal line to deny a touchdown and further possession to Hawthorne.
Offensive improvement is also essential, “I was pleased with how we ran the football and with the big plays we made in the passing game. Now I’m more concerned with the consistency that we need in executing our passing game moving forward.
“I was very pleased with how the offensive line protected our quarterback. We only gave up one sack the whole game, which hasn’t been the case in weeks past. Hopefully we can build upon that.
“We also missed a field goal. That was disappointing. I thought we would capitalize on the opportunities of being in scoring positions because that’s an aspect that we spend a lot of time on. I want to see us execute better in the actual game situations.”
Culver’s next campaign stop is very much focused on the present tense, “This week we’re playing against a rival team, Inglewood. We’re excited about the opportunity to be playing our homecoming game with it all on the line. We’ve worked hard and understand the importance of this game. Whoever wins this game has made a significant step toward winning a league championship.”