By Fred Altieri
The Culver City High student body summoned the gods Zeus, Poseidon, Ares and Hermes to honor their 2013 homecoming ceremony at halftime in Jerry Chabola Stadium. Hours earlier, there was a partial eclipse of a full mid-October moon.
Hours later, there was a full eclipse on the football field as Culver City overshadowed Inglewood, 16-7. The Centaurs' fourth consecutive Ocean League victory dating to last season christened their inaugural league home game in their recently renamed and reconstructed stadium.
The stakes were high according to Head Coach Jahmal Wright. "There was a lot on the line. Period. We were playing for first place in the Ocean League. There would only be two teams left at 2-0 at the end of the night and really would put themselves in the driver's seat to contend for Ocean League championship."
The intensity peaked early as the visiting Sentinels failed in their pre-gamemanship ploy before the teams had even taken the field. Wright was pleased with how his players responded, "It was just a situation where the Inglewood players took it upon themselves to try to bait us into doing something silly.
"But we have disciplined, well-behaved young men who contained themselves. We just let our play on the field do the talking. That's what Culver City football is all about: being disciplined and following the rules and playing the game the way it is supposed to be played."
2:01 remained in the first quarter when a Centaur running back electrified the capacity filled home stands with a jolt down the visitor's sideline. "Donovan Davis was able to bust through the line of scrimmage on an inside running play, broke the tackle by their inside linebacker and darted off for a 54-yard touchdown run which was a huge momentum builder.
"We were able to get on the board first and we didn't look back from there."
But once again it was the Culver defense that determined matters. "We were able to contain the Inglewood receivers by our secondary play combined with the pass rush and a little bit of good fortune as well. We were able to survive a very talented Inglewood team and hold them to seven points," said Wright.
He shared more, "The defense is playing as a unit. They are really focused on the game plan and what we have in place to stop the other team. They had a very good week of practice and everybody is behind one another.
"It sells itself on the football field. We've been able to hold our first two league opponents to seven points each. That's the kind of defense that we play here at Culver City High School."
The Centaurs' second score was a haymaker. The Sentinels, who are moving to the Bay League next year, never saw it coming. Wright offered this insight, "Lonnie Walker is one of our better athletes on the team and capable of playing multiple positions. We used his talents at running back to throw a halfback pass.
"Inglewood was a very aggressive football team so when they saw the halfback running the ball on the sweep, their defense came up and Lonnie was able to throw the ball deep for a 63-yard touchdown pass. Marcus Moore made a great adjustment to the football and was able to break a couple of tackles and run into the end zone. Brandon Hasson also had a great block on the play as well."
The Culver defense had highlights to match including sacking the Inglewood quarterback a staggering 10 times. The Sentinels rushing game also suffered. "They ran the ball 34 times for 85 yards for an average of 2.5 yards per carry which I think is an excellent job by our defense. Ty'Jason Roberts led the way with 13 total tackles, eight solo and five assisted, one sack and one tackle for loss. Jericho Flowers had 12 total tackles with eight solo and four assisted tackles.
"Kevin Caldwell also had a very good game with six tackles and three sacks. Remy Grundy, our inside linebacker, made a huge impact as well with eight total tackles, two sacks, one tackle for loss, one fumble caused and one pass deflected."
The Centaur special teams came up with a big play just before the halftime festivities. "We called a timeout as we saw something on film to where we were able to block a punt close to the end zone. We knew we only had one play left in the half so we made a decision to take the points because Inglewood has a pretty good defense as well. We were able to get the field goal giving us a two-score lead."
The Ocean League championship could very well be determined this week as Culver hosts Santa Monica.
"We prepared ourselves with the mindset of being consistent, believing in our system and how we do things. We have a long way to go but we're starting to reap the benefits of hard work and being together as a team and sacrificing. It's the reason why we're 2-0 in league and playing for a stranglehold of the Ocean League title this Friday night,." Wright concluded.