Centaurs Win CIF Football Title

The Centaurs are CIF Football Champions once again! Culver City High hit the desert road Saturday night and shifted into high gear to speed past San Jacinto High with authority, 61-21. They captured the 2018 Division 7 crown at Tiger Stadium in Riverside County. Culver City won its first CIF title 40 years ago when they beat Lompoc, 14-7, in 1978.

"It's an awesome feeling. I think we're still on a high from what we just accomplished. It's a team effort and our offense has definitely been special the whole year," said 10-year Centaur head coach Jahmal Wright.

"We've scored over 60 points a couple of times, over 70 points once. We've been very explosive with multiple guys. When our quarterback went down this season we didn't miss a beat and still scored points. We're just blessed with a plethora of talent."

The Centaurs rallied to lead halftime, 28-21, after the Tigers jumped to a 14-7 first quarter lead. Led by senior wide receiver/running back Kevin McGuire and sophomore quarterback Zevi Eckhaus the Centaurs scored five unanswered touchdowns in the second half. The Culver defense controlled the outcome and added the fatal blows, returning two turnovers for touchdowns for a convincing win.

"We just came out here and fought to the end," said McGuire. "They were a good team and made it to the Championship. We practiced hard. We were ready. We were very prepared. It's a great group of guys. It means everything to win with them and with the City in the stands."

"It's amazing! Words cannot explain," offered Eckhaus. "We just listened to our coaches, followed our game plan and played our football. I said in the first round if we play our brand of football we would go far. And we went far. CIF Champions!"

Culver City's speed was on full display. McGuire scored four touchdowns, Eckhaus rushed for one and threw four touchdown passes. Seniors Jamal Glaspie, Antonio Morillo, Joshua Ford and Malachi McMahon each scored a touchdown for the 12-2 Centaurs.

McGuire scored City's first touchdown at 7:55 in the first quarter, an 8-yard right sweep and never looked back. He caught a 15-yard touchdown pass to tie the score, 14-14, at 9:30 in the second quarter. At 5:13 Eckhaus gave Culver the lead on a 5-yard keeper and dive over the goal line.

"For Kevin to score four touchdowns in a CIF Championship game is remarkable," said Wright. "Honestly, I know we're kind of spoiled but we expect those kind of plays from him. He's special. We pretty much give the ball to Kevin and get out of the way. He's done that his whole high school career."

McGuire caught a 16-yard touchdown pass with 1:34 as the Centaurs threatened to pull away. The Tigers temporarily survived by cutting the deficit to 28-21 with a 9-yard touchdown pass 12 seconds before halftime.

"Our focus was that first drive at the beginning of the third quarter. From there the defense took over with the turnovers, interceptions and scoop-and-scores. The game plan was to get stops and give the ball back to the offense. We felt our offense was in a very good rhythm so we wanted to keep that going for sure."

The Centaur offense exploded in the third quarter. Glaspie caught a tough 18-yard touchdown pass up the middle at 10:09. Eckhaus and McGuire hooked up for the offensive play of the game, a 71-yard touchdown bomb at 8:29 that saw McGuire riddle the Tiger secondary with daring moves and elusive speed.

The hundreds of Centaur fans packing the visitors stands, who traveled 100-plus miles one way to witness school history, roared with approval. "It was overwhelming to see the support that we had Saturday night. To hear them the whole game, they were loud. I could hear them through my head set," said Wright.

The senior defense line took over at 6:27 in the third quarter when Amir Hodge blocked a San Jacinto punt and Tony Morillo grabbed the loose ball and stormed 20 yards into the end zone. One minute later senior defensive back Dominic Tatum returned an interception 49 yards to the 1-yard line.

Wright: "I thought we ran a very good rhythm offensively the entire night. They didn't make us punt until late in the game. We just had to figure out how they were attacking us and then counteract with a good defensive game plan. I thought our defense did that."

Joshua Ford scored untouched on a 16-yard run up the middle for a commanding 55-21 lead to cap off the 7-minute third quarter blitz. Malachi McMahon put the icing on the cake at 7:21 in the fourth quarter with an 81-yard fumble recovery and sprint escorted by a half dozen Centaurs into the end zone.

McGuire: "As an offensive player, we pushed the defense to go 100% in practice. So when we play a team like this in a game, it's easy for them. Going out there and playing like they did is normal for them. They've been doing it all year. It's expected and I'm happy for all of them."

The Centaurs will host Lincoln High from San Diego in a ClF State Semifinal game beginning 7:30 p.m. this Friday, November 30 at Jerry Chabola Stadium. The Hornets won the CIF San Diego Section – Division 2 title beating Mira Mesa High, 23-3, this past Friday. Lincoln (10-4) finished tied for fourth in the highly-competitive Western League. The winner will play the CIF Northern Section winner on Saturday, December 15, at a yet to be determined site.

"They're a very talented team and a champion in their section. A lot of teams in their league are playing in the State Semifinals. They're battle-tested and we're up against a stiff challenge. So we're just dialed in and focused to try to win another football game," said Wright.

"There's no doubt about our leadership with 32 seniors. With us going through the heartbreaker of losing 56-57 in the Semifinals last year, that was all the motivation our seniors needed. We just decided this year that this was going to be our year and nothing was going to stop us."

The End


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