Culver Faces Tough Lincoln Team in State Regional Finals

Culver City had not won a CIF Divisional Championship since 1978. Over the last 40 years the Centaurs have had many good teams and some of those had the ability to become CIF Champions but for whatever reason they came up short. From the beginning of spring practice and especially through the summer, the Cents won two passing tournaments, and went to the finals and lost on the last play of the game in the prestigious Bonita tournament, and they competed equally with some of the major national powers (Mater Dei, Corona Centennial and Long Beach Poly) in the Mission Viejo Tournament. At that point, Coach Wright and his staff knew that this could be a special team if the offensive and defensive lines could be tough, hard charging, and be relentlessly aggressive. Since many of these players have aspirations of earning scholarships, they realized that they had to turn up their intensity several notches to earn looks from college scouts and help the team in the process. It has been evident to college scouts and other coaches that they have accomplished that goal, and it is one of the main reasons that the Centaurs have become CIF Champions. College scouts are seriously watching Kofi Karikari, Amir Hodge, David Naranjo,

Blake Kneebone, Gabe Robles, and Antonio Morillo.

The Cents travelled an hour and a half to San Jacinto, and they were extremely pleased to see so many fans, including but not limited to alumni, players families, students, the marching band, and the school administration, turn out to pack the bleachers in standing room only fashion and cheer them on to victory. The Centaur faithful were treated to a dominant performance by the team as they created numerous scoring opportunities by forcing turnovers and shut down the Tigers in a 61-21 victory.

Culver City faces the CIF San Diego Section Division 2 Champion Lincoln Hornets. Lincoln was 10-4 on the season but 2 of those losses were forfeits for using ineligible players. The two losses they suffered on the field were to St. Augustine, 34-13, and to Point Loma, 33-20.

Amazingly Culver City and Lincoln had one common opponent, the Dorsey Dons. Culver City beat Dorsey 42-0 and Lincoln beat them 55-26.

Lincoln is very similar to Culver City in that they have lots of athletes with outstanding speed and they can hit. They are the home of Hall of Famer Marcus Allen of USC and Raider fame. Culver City is the home of 5-time NFL All-Pro Carnell Lake who is the only player in NFL history to be named All-Pro at 3 different positions (free safety, strong safety and corner). Lake played for UCLA and the Pittsburg Steelers.

Arguably their number one athlete is senior Don Chapman, 6’2” 180, who has several Division 1 offers and has a verbal agreement with Washington State. He primarily plays free safety and wide receiver, but he also plays linebacker, slot, and the wildcat quarterback position. In 11 games he has caught 35 passes for 476 yards and 4 touchdowns. There other 2 most productive receivers are also Division 1 prospects.

They are senior Jamahd Monroe, 6’2” 205, who has caught 54 passes for 1,204 yards and a scintillating 22.3 yards per catch average and 13 touchdowns, and junior Keyshawn Smith, 6’ 155, who has 38 catches for 765 yards and an outstanding 20.1 yards per catch average and 11 touchdowns.

The Hornets are led by sophomore quarterback Raymond Spriggs, 5’10” 155, who has completed 101 passes in 171 attempts for 1,866 yards (a 59% completion rate) and 18 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. They also use junior Chris Davila, 5’11” 170, who has completed 50 of 92 passes (54%) with 11 touchdowns and 5 picks.

They appear to have very strong arms and are mobile and can run.

Lincoln has a strong running game that has accumulated 2,435 yards for nearly a 7 yards per carry average in 13 games. Their number 1 running back is senior Carlito Nothaft, 5’9” 175, who has rushed for 1,201 yards on 167 carries (7.2 average) and 15 touchdowns. Also putting up good numbers is sophomore Kenneth Stevenson, 6’185, who has run for 312 yards on 46 carries (6.8 average) and 6 touchdowns. He also is the starting middle linebacker on defense.

As a group their offensive line is not huge, but they are very aggressive. Their biggest offensive lineman is junior Trevon Wallace, 6’1” 297. One of the standouts on the offensive line (who also plays nose tackle) is senior center T’ray Kirkland, 5’11” 230. The other very aggressive lineman is freshman right tackle Maximus Abasolo, 5’11” 200.

The Hornets play a 3-3-5, cover 1, defense with a lot of bump and run and in your face man to man coverage. Their philosophy is that their defensive backs are better athletes than yours and they will force you to beat them one on one. Their defensive line is not large, and they play their defensive ends in an upright position to give them the ability to see the backfield better and to outmaneuver the tackles and run to the football. Their defense is like Culver City in that they are fast, athletic and they like to blitz a lot and apply pressure to the quarterback.

Culver City must set the tone and be able to utilize their size advantage on the offensive line to run the football and force them to play honestly and not blitz them unmercifully. The Cents have to be able to utilize their screen game efficiently and force Lincoln to cover the whole field. Since several of their players go both ways Culver must play fast paced to tire them out. Most importantly Culver needs to limit unnecessary penalties and eliminate unforced errors due to lack of discipline or focus. Since Lincoln is a very physical team, the Cents must outhit them and constantly get many “hats” on the ball.

Should Culver City win this game they will play in the Division 3AA State Finals in two weeks (either Friday 12/14 or Saturday 12/15) at a site to be determined at a later date.


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