Culver Football Dominates Western HS

Special to the Observer

By Greg Goodyear and Larry Weiner

Over the years, Culver City has been a traditionally strong program in the summer passing tournaments, but they have generally not won many of these events. The Centaurs usually participate in four or five a summer and last summer had some success winning one and going to the finals in another. In the Centaur’s first passing tournament of this summer, they entered into a new tournament they had not participated in before played at Western high school in Anaheim.

The biggest question that the Cents face this year is who will be their starting quarterback for the 2018 season. The Centaurs graduated one of the most decorated quarterback in the history of the school in Jonathan Martin, who was a 2 time All-CIF and third team All-State performer in 2017. Martin threw for over 3,400 yards, 44 TD’s, with only 5 interceptions in 11 games. For his career at Culver, he threw for just under 9,000 yards nearly surpassing the school record set by Darius Banks.

There have been 3 strong quarterbacks competing for the job this coming season. They are sophomore Zevi Eckhaus (6’ 190”), senior Tee Barnes (6’2” 170) and junior Nick Lucero (6’1” 210). Coach Wright wanted to make sure that all three quarterbacks got the opportunity to show off their skills in the first 3 pool games. In the Western Tournament a touchdown is scored as 6 points, an interception is 2 points, a PAT conversion from 3 yards is 1 point and a PAT from 10 yards is 2 points. In the first game versus Century of Santa Ana, Culver City blew them out 52-6. Zevi Eckhaus threw for 4 touchdowns, Tee Barnes threw for 1 and Nick Lucero also threw for 1. Senior safety Justin Jarmon intercepted Century’s first pass of the game for a 2-0 lead. Junior Aramie Bryant (OLB) and senior Cortez Wright (MLB) also intercepted passes. Senior Dominique Tatum (related to Oakland Raider’s Hall of Famer and vicious hitter Jack Tatum) caught 2 touchdowns, junior Tanner Duve also caught 2, and senior slot Tyler Luckett and Jamal Glaspie (the Cents second leading receiver last year with 47 catches for a 20.3 ave. yards per catch) caught 1 each.

In game 2 of pool play, the Centaurs faced off against Katella of Anaheim, 2017 CIF Division 11 champions. Ironically, if Culver City had beaten Covina last season, they would have played Katella for the CIF D-11 Championship. According to their head coach, they lost their outstanding senior quarterback from last season and were starting a new 6’6” quarterback, and their lineup featured several inexperienced sophomores. Culver City again played great defense and blew out Katella 36-8. In this game QB Eckhaus threw for 4 touchdowns and Lucero threw for 1 while Barnes had one pass intercepted. Jamal Glaspie caught 3 TD’s while Luckett and Duve caught 1 each. In the first 2 games neither Century nor Katella scored a TD until their last possession as the Centaurs demonstrated their defensive dominance, and only scored when the Centaurs put in their reserves.

In the final pool play game Culver faced El Dorado of Orange County who also entered this game 2-0. This game was a tighter contest that the Centaurs closed out late winning 26-14. Eckhaus threw for 3 TD’s, Barnes 1 and Lucero was intercepted. Glaspie had 2 TD’s, Luckett 1 and senior Serra transfer Allen Smith had 1.

Having completed pool play, Culver took a lunch break and then were told that they were seeded number 1 in the upcoming single elimination tournament round drawing a bye in the first round. In round 2 they again met El Dorado who beat Century in a first round matchup. El Dorado again proved tough but Culver pulled out the win in their last possession with a 27-15 victory. Culver was up only 20-13 when Eckhaus was picked off to bring the game within 5. The Cents then forced El Dorado into a 3 and out, and Eckhaus showed his grit throwing a TD pass to Duve to secure the victory.

In the semi-finals, Culver City met Eastlake of Chula Vista. Eastlake is a Division 1 school near San Diego that has a student body of 4,500 and went to the Division 1 CIF finals in 2017, and they believe that they are good enough this year to get back to the finals again. Culver City’s defense was dominant in this game and never allowed Eastlake to get into the end zone. The Centaurs won the game 18-4, with the 4 points coming on 2 interceptions of passes by Zevi Eckhaus, but Eckhaus threw 3 touchdown passes which were the difference in the game for the Cents. The TD passes went to Tatum, Duve, and Josh Ford.

In the final game of the tournament, the Centaurs met the host school, the Western Pioneers. The game was a close defensive struggle with Culver City going ahead late 21-6 and holding a commanding 28-12 lead until Western scored on the last play of the game to make the final score 28-18.

After the Centaur victory, Coach Wright stated, “As a team, I am very pleased in what we did in terms of executing both offensively and defensively.”

When asked how he thought he performed in the tournament, Eckhaus replied, “I think I did pretty good. But there is always room for improvement, and you kind of take it from there and hopefully improving to help your team win a CIF title.”

When asked how he thought he could improve his game, he said, “Being more consistent and throwing a great ball on every throw and being the best QB I can be.”

The Centaurs will continue their passing league exploits when they travel this Saturday at 9AM to the El Rancho high school passing tournament in Pico Rivera.


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