Centaurs Look to Upend Covina in First Semi-final Since 2011

Centaurs Look to Upend Covina in First Semi-final Since 2011

By Greg Goodyear & Larry Weiner

After traveling three hours to Coachella Valley to play a strong and large opponent and coming away with a nail-biting 45-27 victory Culver City High comes marching home for a CIF Division 11 semi-final contest against the Covina Colts.

The Colts finished tied for first place in the Valle Vista League and are 10-2 this year (4-1 in league play) and ranked fourth in Division 11. Last Friday night they defeated Westminster 42-28 to advance.

They are a dangerous team like Coachella Valley has an outstanding duel threat quarterback and a strong running game and just like last week Culver’s defense is going to have its hands full.

Sensational sophomore quarterback Nin Burns (5’10’ 165), leads the passing attack for the Colts and has completed 119-196 passes for a cool .607 completion percentage with only five interceptions and 25 touchdowns. (All Covina stats are based on 11 games because last Friday’s game was not available on Max Preps as of this writing.)

These are outstanding numbers for any quarterback but particularly for a sophomore. He has rushed 49 times for 275 yards for 5.6 yards per carry average. Their big offensive gun in the backfield is beefy running back Erik Cuellar (5’8”, 190). He has rushed 212 times for 1771 yards, which is an 8.4 yards per carry average. He is not particularly fast but will run over players and has a knack for finding a hole.

The Colts had several people running the ball this year but their number two running back was diminutive Ailaoa Tauvao (5’7”, 170) who carried the ball 52 times for 361 yards, a 6.9 yards per carry average.

The top receivers for the Colts are Tristan Sprague (6’, 175) and senior Danny Urrea (5’4”, 140). Sprague has 40 catches for 741 yards and Urrea has 33 for 612 yards. Both average 18.5 yards per reception which is very good.

The offensive line is quite large and formidable led by two-way star Zion Maae (6’1”, 265) who runs well and is a very good hitter, center/guard Andrew Garcia (6’2”, 290) and left tackle Jahmal Clark (6’6”, 245).

They also have a very active defensive line that gets off the ball very well and is led by Jacob Gregory who has 60 tackles and eight sacks. They have some athletic linebackers and some speedy defensive backs. The philosophy of the Colts is to try and confuse offenses by giving different looks and blitzing to put pressure on the quarterback. They have good speed and might be able to keep up with Culver’s receivers.

Covina’s only two losses were to Arroyo, a team ranked second in Division 11 in their opener 35-28, and to perennial league power Northview 42-28, and they escaped with a victory in a close contest with a strong San Dimas team 36-35.

In their home playoff opener they won a defensive battle with Victor Valley 21-7.

In Culver’s victory over Coachella Valley Coach Wright started freshman quarterback Zevi Echaus who again was outstanding leading the Centaurs to touchdowns on his only two drives. On the second drive on the second play he handed off to slot receiver Kevin McGuire who sprinted to the right and stopped just outside of right tackle and threw a perfect 40-yard pass to Tyler Luckett, in stride, even yards past the defensive back. The play went for 85 yards and a touchdown and with 5:01 left in the first quarter and the Centaurs had a 14-0 lead.

On the third series, Coach Wright inserted star senior quarterback Jonathan Martin, who had missed the two previous games due to injury, and he did a credible job leading the Cents to four touchdowns, two passing and two running.

Kicker Carlos Barrillas again connected on all six PATs and also added a 31- yard field goal to give him eight for the year to close out the scoring. He is now eight of nine for the season with his only miss being from 49 yards. This leaves him one field goal shy of the C.C. percentage record of nine of 10 set by Warren Takashima in 2004.

If the Centaurs win the game, they have already won the coin toss and will host the Division 11 CIF Finals at Culver City on either next Friday or Saturday night.

The game will most likely be on Friday night but make sure to call the school or check the CIF website for the correct date and time.


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