Culver Wins Again, Awaits Tough League Opener
October 8, 2015
By Fred Altieri
"We left the game with a positive feeling about our team and how far we've come in a short amount of time," said Jahmal Wright, Culver City High head football coach.
The Centaurs drove up the coast on Friday, October 2, to Port Hueneme to completely overwhelm Channel Islands High 54-30 with speed, line strength, big-play offense and another stellar defensive night from Mekhi Ware and company.
Wright continued: "It was a long road trip and our goal was to go up there and start fast, play fast, physical and dominate the line of scrimmage."
"We couldn't have envisioned a finer start. Fred Poindexter had a 71-yard kickoff return to their 30-yard line. I will take that everyday of the week. It really helped to set the tone and take the game momentum right away."
Four plays later Culver running back partner Cahlil Hooper ran four yards for a touchdown and a seven-point lead in just over a minute.
"We have a pretty good one-two punch at the running back position. Cahlil did a great job of taking advantage of the opportunities and he recorded his first 100-yard rushing game as a Centaur," said Wright.
Ware's first of his three interceptions in the game deep in Culver territory abruptly stopped the Raiders' initial drive. Ware is currently the California high school leader in interceptions with a total of nine in five games. It was his second consecutive game with three interceptions, quite rare.
Enter Culver receiver Mason Mulvihill who caught a short pass from Jonathan Martin and then ran the length of the field to score the Centaurs' second touchdown less than three minutes later.
"The touchdown pass to Mason Mulvihill was a straight short out. The play is not really designed to get us 90 yards. It was just a short five yards and out. He turned it into a 90-yard touchdown."
Channel Islands settled for a field goal. Culver led 14-3 at end of the quarter. At 7:45 of the second quarter Martin connected with Ware on a deep pattern and a 21-3 lead.
Coach Wright: "For Mekhi's 75-yard touchdown reception we were third and long. We came out with a five-wide receiver set as we wanted to spread out. We had the speed advantage so we called our deep pass play. Mekhi ran right by their defensive backs and we were able to get a big play.
"The way we jumped out on them so early was exactly like I envisioned. We used our speed on the outsides to create big plays.
Everything we talked about: setting the tone, playing fast, creating early separation and making Channel Islands play from behind. And we were able to do that."
The Raiders scored on a nine-yard toss to make it 21-10, Culver. Two minutes later Poindexter took off for 41 yards into the end zone and a 27-10 lead as the extra-point attempt kick failed.
Ware struck again with his second interception deep in Culver territory to stop another Raider drive. Two minutes later lightening struck again as Ware intercepted a pass and ran down the left sideline 51 yards for the score and a 33-10 halftime lead.
The Centaurs' speed advantage is fostered by Wright who also serves as the school's track and field head coach: "One thing that I'm going to encourage is speed. The majority of the young men that run track are on the football team. And it pays off.
"When you're faster you're able to be a better football player. We pride ourselves on being in shape, being explosive and being fast. So what we lack in girth on the offensive and defensive lines we make up on the back end with our speed and athleticism."
The Centaurs had the game on ice at 7:55 of the third quarter when Martin ran eight yards for a touchdown and a 41-10 lead. Channel Islands refused to surrender and scored two touchdowns cutting the lead to 17 points, 41-24, by the end of the third quarter.
Martin and Poindexter put the Raiders down for good with two and eight-yard touchdown runs respectively to start the fourth quarter. Channel Islands added a score just as the game ended.
Culver City racked up a total of 522 yards: 275 yards rushing and 247 yards passing. Poindexter ran 132 yards in 12 rushing attempts. Hooper complimented him with 114 yards in 12 attempts.
Seven different receivers caught passes. Mulvihill had six receptions for 123 yards. Ware's one reception was the 75-yard touchdown. Kyle Johnson had two receptions for 19 yards.
Leading the Centaurs to their fourth consecutive high scoring game was Martin who completed 14 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns. Culver has averaged 40 points per game for the past four games.
The defense had multiple standouts: Antwon Smith had 16 total tackles, 10 solos, one sack, two tackles for loss, and one pass breakup. Steven Ashby had nine total tackles, three solos and Justin Cox had 10 total tackles, three solos.
Mulvihill had eight total tackles, six solos, one tackle for loss and one pass breakup. Kyle McKinniss had eight total tackles, six solos, one sack and one fumble recovery. Elijah Zavala recorded two sacks, five solo tackles and one pass breakup.
The Centaurs open up Ocean League action against Lawndale on Friday. Wright on facing the Cardinals: "Lawndale is 4-1 right now. They're picked to win the Ocean League. It's a great opportunity for us at Culver City High School to play a team that's ranked and are in the top 10 in our division.
"We played very good football in Week 5. We dominated the line of scrimmage offensively and defensively. We did a great job there.
Our preseason games have prepared us for what we're going to go through in our league play. We played some formidable opponents. I like where we are right now."