Culver Hosts #1 Seed Northview in Divisional Semis

Culver City hosts the Northview Vikings, 12-0, and the number 1 seeded team in CIF Division 7. This will be a huge challenge for the Centaurs, the Vikings being a cross between the hard charging Palos Verdes Sea Kings and the tough Lawndale Cardinals, the only teams to have defeated the Cents this season. They have the discipline and size of Palos Verdes and the athleticism of Lawndale. The Vikings have been so dominating this season that until last Friday night’s game verses Warren, the closest anyone had come to them was 18 points. In last Friday night’s game, they opened up a 21-0 lead at half time and won 21-7, but Warren was able to shut them out in the second half. Warren is the only team who has faced both Culver and Northview this season, the Cents beating Warren 34-28 in a barn burner on a TD pass from Zevi Eckhaus to Kevin McGuire on the last play of the game.

They are lead on offense by their outstanding junior James Jimenez, 6’2” 195, who will be the best dual threat quarterback that Culver City has faced this year. In 12 games, Jimenez has completed 125 of 190 passes for 2,621 yards, a .658 completion percentage, with 36 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. Jimenez is also their main rushing threat on read options or running on pass plays when the pocket breaks down. He has rushed for 731 yards on 119 carries, a 6.1 yards per carry average, with 14 touchdowns. The Vikings have a “thunder and lightning” backfield with the “thunder” being a big, hard charging, senior running back, David Barela, 6’1” 215, who has carried the ball 57 times for 343 yards and 6 TD’s. The “lightning” in their backfield is senior running back Martin Gutierez, 5’7” 155, who has carried the ball 78 times for 475 yards, a 6.1 average, and 2 TD’s. Gutierez is quick and elusive but not as fast as the running back from Millikan.

Culver City is fairly familiar with the explosive passing offense and defense of Northview because they played them in the Bonita passing tournament this past summer. In fact, the Vikings gave Culver City all they could handle and were one of the few teams all summer to tie the Cents in any passing tournament. As with most great passing attacks, there are usually one or more great receivers. Northview has three top-notch receivers. Their reception leader, sophomore slot receiver Deshon Johnson, 5’9” 155, has caught 44 passes for 1,072 yards and a scintillating 24.4 yards per catch average and 15 touchdowns. Also, sophomore Jamier Johnson, 6’ 160, who has 35 receptions for 539 yards, a 15.4 yards per reception average and 9 TD’s, and Damion Thompson, 6’ 165, 30 catches for 638 yards and a fine 21.3 yards per average and 7 touchdowns have excelled at receiver. All of them are potential Division 1 prospects who are fairly fast and elusive and often make extra yardage after the catch.

The Vikings offensive line is not overly large, but they are very aggressive and get off the ball very well. The offensive line consists of senior center Anthony Aguilar, 6’2” 250, senior left guard Brandon Varela, 6’2” 265, senior left tackle Xavier Magallanes, 5’11” 210, right guard junior Robert Pena, 5’10” 270, and senior right tackle Alexander Burrola, 6’1” 250. These 5 will be the keys to protecting the quarterback and to the output of the Vikings offense.

The Viking’s defense is predicated on the blitz, and they are lead by their defensive backfield who are very aggressive. Many of their defensive players play on both sides of the ball. The defensive backfield consists of receivers Damion Thompson and Jamier Johnson who play corner and frequently deploy the “bump and run” technique. Their safeties are Martin Gutierez and senior Noah Coleman, 5’11’ 165. The linebacking crew is lead by two-way stud middle linebacker David Barela who also plays running back. The Vikings run a 4-3 defense and their line is aggressive and they slant, twist, and shift right before the snap to try and confuse the offensive line in order to create sacks for the defense.

One has to be reminded that last year the Centaurs lost to Covina (the arch rival of Northview) 57-56 in overtime while the Vikings beat Covina two years in a row. However, this year the Covina starting quarterback was injured and unable to play against the Vikings. Culver City has more depth and more talent this year and has played a much tougher schedule than last year. In fact, four of Culvers opponents, (Lawndale, Palos Verdes, Dorsey, and Peninsula) have made it to the semifinals in their respective Divisions.

The goal for last week was to run the ball more effectively and Josh Ford had a very good game and gained well over 100 yards. Quarterback Zevi Eckhaus, who threw for 7 touchdowns in the first playoff game, threw for 4 against Millikan, but was just off on several deep balls, and felt the rush and was flushed out of the pockets more than any time this season. The offensive line for the Centaurs, who have been stout and stellar all season, did have some trouble with the Ram’s rush. For Culver City to be successful offensively, the offensive line (David Naranjo, Amir Hodge, Gabriel Robles, Blake Kneebone, and Kofi Karikari) will have to play a very aggressive game and keep the mistakes to a minimum.

The Cents, who employ one of the best receiving crews in Southern California, will be tested often by the man to man and “bump and run” defensive techniques that the Vikings will display. Fresno State commit Jamal Glaspie has 9 touchdowns this season and will team with potential PAC 12 receiver Chris Miller who has 12 on the year. Accolades to 3-year starting receiver Kevin McGuire who caught his 13th and 14th catches for touchdown last week breaking the all time Centaur record of 13 TD catches in a season held by 5 past Centaur receivers.

This is the first time in Culver City football history that the team has made it to back-to-back semifinal games. The keys to victory for the Centaurs are that the offensive and defensive lines have to outhit the Vikings, they must cut down on their penalties, avoid costly mistakes, and make big plays to make it to the finals for the first time since 2011.


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