League Champion Culver Earns Home Playoff Game
November 12, 2015
By Fred Altieri
Culver City High is back in the saddle again as the Centaurs were crowned 2015 Ocean League Football Champions after beating Beverly Hills High, 41-6 on a relatively chilly Friday night, November 6, at Jerry Chabola Stadium.
A lively home crowd celebrated Senior Night.
As a result, the Centaurs will host Pacifica High of Oxnard in a first round CIF Western Division playoff game on Friday the 13th. They have now made the playoffs in six of the seven seasons under head coach Jahmal Wright and his staff.
Culver City topped the league at 4-1 and ended the regular season with a 7-3 record. Lawndale, El Segundo and Hawthorne all finished 3-2, while Beverly Hills and Santa Monica both closed the league with 1-4 records. Lawndale also advanced to the playoffs due to wins over El Segundo and Hawthorne despite forfeiting two league wins.
The game started slowly for the Centaurs as Beverly scored in the first quarter on a three-yard run. The extra-point attempt failed and the Normans had a 6-0 lead. It would last until the second quarter. That's when Culver got its now-expected explosive offense going.
"Beverly Hills gave us some problems early. They have a good scheme. They're physical upfront. Their big running back has been all-league for a couple of years. They made a concerted effort to try and play keep-away to shorten the game and keep our offense off the field," said Coach Wright.
Culver awoke when it took a 7-6 lead at 10:59 of the second quarter on a 13-yard pass from quarterback Bryce Lewis-Wolfe to receiver Mekhi Ware who spun and lunged inside the right end zone marker.
The Normans responded with a long pounding drive to the Centaur six-yard line. On fourth and goal Ware, now playing defensive back, snared his 11th interception of the season with a diving grab to deny Beverly. He got another interception in the second half to run his season total to 12.
"Mekhi got an interception on the two-yard line. We were then able to run the ball and open up. It was a nice 97-yard drive to march down the field pretty fast with less than two minutes left in the half," said Wright.
Lewis Wolfe used multiple weapons to move the Centaurs: running backs Fred Poindexter and Cahlil Hooper, wide-receivers Ware, Mason Mulvihill and Kyle Johnson who caught a 26-yard sideline pass at the Beverly 10-yard line to set up the clinching score.
Deven Osborne's catch in the left corner of end zone put Culver ahead 14-6 with seconds remaining until halftime. Coach Wright in reference to Johnson and Osborne: "We have two of the taller receivers in the league so we're definitely going to take advantage of any matchup that comes our way and throw it up there.
"We just wanted to stick to the game plan and stop hurting ourselves with penalties. We had some untimely penalties that kept Beverly's drives going on fourth down. We just needed to clean up our act so that we could seal the deal."
Culver quickly went to work as Lewis-Wolfe hooked up with Osborne again for a 17-yard touchdown at 7:16 of the third quarter for a 20-6 lead. The extra-point kick failed.
Four minutes later Poindexter took a pitch right and powered his way for a 27-yard touchdown and a 27-6 lead. The final two touchdowns were just as explosive. Justin Cox ran only one play at running back the entire game. And it was a scintillating 71-yard touchdown run that had the fans up and screaming.
"Justin's run was impressive. He was able to break some tackles, break into the open field, cut back and use his speed. He's definitely capable and an explosive athlete," added Wright.
After Beverly lost a fumble Hooper blazed a crowd-pleasing 30-yard touchdown run to cap off the scoring.
The Centaurs scored a minimum of 34 points in each of their last nine games of the regular season and finished one point shy of averaging 40 points per game for the nine games.
Winning the league title was not lost on Wright: "We've been able to turn our season around strictly because our seniors have so much character and leadership qualities. We have a lot of football to be played so we aren't patting ourselves on the back too much. But it was a remarkable feat to turn things around.
"The players have done a good job of grasping their responsibilities. Everybody is on the same page. We've always had the benefit of having explosive playmakers on the team, especially when they end up in the right spot to execute and create big plays. The players deserve all the credit."
The 2015-16 Centaur varsity football seniors and their respective jersey numbers: Mason Mulvihill (2), Fred Poindexter (4), Cahlil Hooper (6), Antwon Smith (10), Quintorious Truitt (13), Kyle Johnson (15), Tomas Saucedo (16), Daniel Valdivia (20), Willie Williams (21), Louis Schulze (22).
Aldo Soriano (26), Marcel Brown (27), Cameron Hooper (28), Jacob Weiner (30), Devonte Williams (32), Vernon Roddy (34), Cameryn Newman (54), Richard Yoshida (55), Kyle McKinniss (58), Cameron Lowe (64), Thomas Johnson (75), Renato Juarez (81).
Culver now prepares for the post season against Pacifica which finished second in the Pacific View League. "Pacifica is a team that runs the spread offense. They're pretty big upfront. They like to blitz a lot. They have a real sound scheme and they make plays," observed Wright.
"Bryce has done a great job in leading our team, throwing touchdown passes and not throwing interceptions. I think these three games that he's started has prepared him for the playoffs and we like our chances. It's going to be a good matchup, a good game on Friday."