Culver Pleases The Coach In Close Loss
September 24, 2015
By Fred Altieri
The 2015 Culver City High football team traveled to San Pedro High on Friday night, September 18, as decided underdogs to the South Bay power currently ranked sixth in the CIF Los Angeles city section.
A high-scoring battle of contrasting styles ensued into the fourth quarter and despite losing the game, 44-33, the Centaur players and coaches came away excited about the future of the program.
"There's not too many times as a coach that I'm happy with the team for a loss but I was very proud of how we fought and how we played," stated Culver head coach Jahmal Wright.
San Pedro scored immediately with its rushing attack for a 7-0 first quarter lead setting the tone for both teams the rest of the game.
The Centaurs with sophomore quarterback Jonathan Martin responded with an aerial attack only to miss a field goal attempt. A few minutes later defensive back Mekhi Ware intercepted a Pirate pass and returned it 26 yards.
Martin and company capitalized on the turnover. A sideline pass to Deven Osborne and a 25-yard pass to Ware set up a 24-yard touchdown dash by Martin to tie the score, 7-7, starting the second quarter.
The Pirates' ground game punished the Culver defense again as they ran for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead minutes later. The Centaurs retaliated by marching the length of the field with passes to Robert Simon, Fred Poindexter, Mason Mulvihill and Kyle Johnson.
Martin hit Osborne, who out-leaped the defender to catch the ball in the right corner of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown. The extra-point kick failed but Martin's quarterback play had the stadium buzzing.
"For Jonathan Martin to be a sophomore, to come out and complete 29 passes, throw for over 300 yards and to account for all five touchdowns... he's a star in the making," said Coach Wright.
Martin passed for 337 yards on 29 of 43 completions and three touchdowns. He ran for 33 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns. Poindexter ran for 70 yards on seven carries.
Mulvihill led Centaur receivers with eight receptions for 96 yards.
Johnson had five receptions for 46 yards and two touchdowns. Justin Cox had six receptions for 50 yards. Osborne had two receptions for 18 yards and one touchdown.
San Pedro kicked a field goal to lead 17-13 as the first half ended. Wright and his staff liked Culver's chances: "At halftime, we felt real good overall. We were exchanging punches with them and executed our offense as well."
The Centaurs struck the Pirates with the Poindexter's runs and Martin's passes. Wright: "That was a big drive. We executed our passing game pretty much for the whole game. At halftime we made a little offensive adjustment to help us with the running game."
"It opened up with Fred Poindexter running 44-yards up the middle in the beginning of the third quarter. It really gave us a boost. That was a big run that helped us out in getting into the end zone quickly."
Martin again passed to the right corner of the end zone to hit Johnson with a 19-yard pass and a touchdown. The Centaurs had a 20-17 lead with 9:37 on the clock.
The game was only heating up as San Pedro marched the length of the field to score and retake the lead 23-20 as the extra point failed. The Pirates defense stiffened and forced the Centaurs to punt. They scored on a 31-yard touchdown pass a few plays later for a 30-20 lead.
Culver kept fighting as Martin used his receivers including several passes to Tye'ler Grant-brown to put the Culver on the two-yard line. Again a right corner pass in the end zone to Johnson put the Centaurs within three points at 30-27 starting the fourth quarter.
Wright on quarterback, Martin: "He's still a work in progress but I'm proud of how he's playing right now. He's really executing the game plan, he's coachable and he's doing a great job for us.
"The last time we had a sophomore quarterback was Darius Banks. He pretty much rewrote our school passing record book. He threw for over 10,000 yards and over 100 touchdowns in three seasons.
"As a sophomore, Jonathan is pretty comparable to Darius right now after this game. We're excited but we're not jumping the gun. He's making progress in the right direction. The best is still to come with him."
San Pedro pushed the lead back to 10 points with a three-yard touchdown run at 7:42 and took control of the game with a 33-yard interception setting up a nine-yard touchdown run for a 44-27 lead with 4:33 left in the game.
Defensively for Culver, Antwan Smith had 15 total tackles, 10 solos, five assists and three tackles for loss. Mulvihill had 16 total tackles with eight solos and eight assists.
Mekhi Ware had six total tackles and nose-guard Richard Yoshida had eight total tackles, four solos and four assists.
Offensively, Martin used his cache of receivers one last time to move the Centaurs to the one-yard line before he bootlegged it into the end zone for the game's final score.
"We spread the wealth pretty good as all the receivers had a couple of catches each. Mason and Kyle are the only two seniors in the receiving corps. Kyle also had a big game with five catches and two touchdowns," said Wright.
"We had a lot of sophomores and juniors catching passes as well. We executed the game plan pretty well. We've definitely improved in all facets of our team and for a coaching staff it's rewarding. So it's exciting times for the Centaurs."