Culver High Wins El Rancho Passing Tourney

Third Consecutive Year

Culver Sets Record - Wins Passing Tourney Title Third Year in a Row

This past Saturday, Culver City traveled to the San Gabrielle Valley to Pico Rivera to play in the El Rancho 7 on 7 passing tournament. Culver won this tournament in both 2017 and 2018, and they were hoping for the 3-peat.

The games started at 8:00 a.m. under a forgiving June-gloom sky keeping the temperature down until 1:00 p.m. This was very favorable for the Centaurs due to a shortage of personnel, with their potential Division 1 players at the USC football camp that morning. Many of their athletes had to go both ways on offense and defense.

Even though most of the starters were not there, Culver still displayed a precision offense and a stifling defense. Many of the juniors got a chance to step up and start. Time and time again they came up with big plays. One of the only starters there on offense was Arizona-commit Khary Crump.

Crump was able to showcase his skills as one of the best cover corners in Southern California. But he also shined on offense where he continually blew past defenders and made great catch after great catch. Head coach Jahmal Wright had to insert other players to take his place when he needed rest.

Most teams would have folded without the majority of their starters, but Coach Wright and his staff kept his young Centaurs poised and confident throughout the tournament. All State junior quarterback Zevi Eckhaus displayed pinpoint accuracy throughout and leadership skills as he took command of the huddle. The team only had one misstep in the tournament in pool play when they lost on the last play of the game to a strong Monrovia team.

In the first pool play game, Culver faced the Baldwin Park Braves. The defense shut down the Braves until the last play of the game and the Cents won 28-8. Eckhaus threw four touchdown passes, two to junior Quinton Chapman and two to Crump. Culver City also picked off two passes, one by senior Isaiah Williams and one by junior Christian Dubril.

Culver faced the Monrovia Wildcats in the second game, a back and forth contest that went down to the wire. Culver trailed 24-18 late in the game. Eckhaus coolly marched the Centaurs down the field, hitting junior Ayinda Bankole with little time remaining to tie the score, 24-24.

With seconds left, the Monrovia quarterback threw a deep pass to their receiver who was completely blanketed. Yet he made an over the shoulder catch and got one foot down in the end zone, giving Monrovia a 30-24 victory. It was Culver's first loss in any tournament passing game this summer. Eckhaus again threw four TD passes, two to Chapman and one each to Crump and Bankole.

In the final pool play game, Culver faced the Mountain View Vikings. The Vikings were one of the weakest teams in the tournament and Culver crushed them 32-6, despite the fact that they had a good sophomore quarterback. Eckhaus threw five touchdown passes; two to Crump and one each to senior Dylan Clark, junior Antonio Motten and Bankole.

After breaking for lunch, the teams were seeded and for the first time this summer the Centaurs did not get a Top 4 seed. Culver City opened up against Bassett from the San Gabrielle Valley and thoroughly dominated the game. They scored on all five of their possessions. Bassett did not score until their second to last possession. Dylan Clark had three scoring receptions while Crump and Bankole had one each from Eckhaus.

Culver then had to face three of the top four seeded teams. Next up was the No. 2 seed, California high school. The Centaur defense totally controlled the contest, highlighted by Quinton Chapman and sophomore Nick Funes, each with one interception. The shutout continued until the very last play of the game when California scored to make the final score 28-6.

Sophomore running back Ivan Padilla, got the opportunity to start because Mekhi Evans-Bey was at the USC camp. He caught the first touchdown of the game followed by scores from Crump, Chapman, and then Crump again to round out the scoring.

In the Semi-finals the Cents faced the Arroyo Knights, the third seed in the tournament. They jumped out to a quick 12-0 lead when Eckhaus hit Crump for two touchdowns. Arroyo answered with a touchdown to make it 12-6 but that was the last time they were heard from. Culver quickly scored to make it 18-6 and the Funes tipped an Arroyo pass to Bankole for an interception and a 20-6 lead. Eckhaus' pass to Clark make the final score, 26-6.

In the Championship Game, the Centaurs played the top-seeded South Hills Huskies. The game began around 12:30 p.m. with reinforcements arriving from the USC camp. Two of Culver's top receivers, senior Tanner Duve and junior Emari Pait, led the cavalry charge. Their arrival inspired an offensive explosion with the Culver blowing out the Huskies 44-24.

Both Duve and Pait caught three touchdown passes each, accounting for 36 of the team's 44 points. A fantastic pick at the goal line by senior Enson Bravo saved a touchdown, and Eckhaus rounded out the scoring with a touchdown pass to Crump.

Defensive coordinator coach Crump stated: "I was most excited that this is truly a selfless team that is filled with kids that understand the concept of 'next man up.' Time and time again we were able to insert players into games that came up big for us. Yet when we were on the biggest stage, they were happiest for their brothers, Tanner Duve and Emari Pait, who were only available for the Championship game."

Eckhaus was asked how he felt with so many starters out: "I believe that the team performed well together. We had a slow start because of the new guys that did not have as much practice as the others. But once we got moving there was no looking back. The team did well and we have a great coaching staff and talented football players. So even with the starters out we still found a way to utilize all of the players that we had."

Culver City next travels to their most prestigious tournament, the Bonita "Air Assault," on Friday, June 29. Pool play starts at 3:00 p.m. and will continue on Saturday, June 30 for the championship rounds.


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