By Greg goodyear and Larry Weiner
Special to the Observer 

Inaugural Culver City High Passing Tournament


Culver City hosted its first sixteen team passing tournament this past weekend. It was challenging to get a good field of teams because there were other established tournaments already scheduled, including the Mission Viejo Tournament, which attracted some of the top programs in Southern California,

And the Redondo Tournament, in its 7th year, was also scheduled. But because of the hard work of Tournament Director and Centaur coach Dovie Reed and Head Coach Jahmal Wright, they were able to secure a field that arguably had stronger teams than the Redondo Tournament.

Coach Wright and his staff were committed to putting together a First Class tournament and to making it one of the better-run tournaments in Southern California. There were a few minor glitches that occurred before the tournament including one team dropping out a couple of weeks before the tournament and two teams dropping out in the last few days before Saturday.

Nevertheless, the other Head Coaches were thrilled by the proximity of all the fields, the number of viewable fields with good seating, and the fact that a time clock was used making it possible to start the games on time. Centaur Coach Derrick Huezo providing the sound system and music throughout the tournament and the fact that the head coaches and officials were all fed lunch, made this tournament a unique first-class event.

Culver City began pool play against one of the better and more athletic teams in the tournament, the Pasadena Bulldogs. The Centaurs did not expect this tough competition in the first game and the Bulldogs gave them all they could handle. On the first play of the game, Zevi Eckhaus hit Amari Pait with a bomb, and the Centaurs went up 6-0.

Pasadena came right back to even the score. Eckhaus responded by hitting Chris Miller for a touchdown making the score 12-6. The Cents then held Pasadena and struck again, Eckhaus to Khary Crump, to move ahead 18-6. But the Bulldogs quickly struck for 2 touchdowns tying the score at 18. Both teams traded touchdowns making the score 24-24.

With little time remaining, Eckhaus struck on a long TD pass making the score 30-24. The Dogs ran down the field and had the ball on the 2-yard line with 4th down and seconds remaining, but time expired before they could run another play and the Centaurs escaped with the win.

In the second pool play game, Culver City played the local Pacific Palisades Dolphins. Culver jumped out to an early lead went ahead 20-6 past the half-way mark. The coaching staff inserted some non-starters to get them playing time and Palisades rallied and nearly beat the Centaurs.

With little time remaining, Culver was ahead 20-18. On their last possession, Eckhaus hit Amari Pait for a touchdown to make the final score 26-18. The other touchdowns went to Chris Miller, Legend Waring, and Khary Crump, and Chris Miller also had an early interception.

In the final pool game, Culver played the North Torrance Saxons. The Centaurs jumped all over the Saxons early taking a 24-0 lead before cruising to a 30-12 win. On the first play of the game, Eckhaus threw a bomb to Tanner Duve. His other three touchdowns went to Mekhi Evans-Bey, Waring, and Crump. The defense intercepted three passes with juniors Nick Funes, Quinton Chapman and senior Enson Bravo with one each.

After lunch the seedings for the championship round were determined. Culver City, Notre Dame, Crespi, and Crescenta Valley went undefeated in pool play. Notre Dame were the top seed followed by Crespi and Crescenta Valley with Culver City seeded 4th.

Culver City faced 13th seeded Granite Hills High and thoroughly dominated them, 62-0. The scoring included nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Touchdowns went to Crump (2), Dylan Clark (2), Makhai Cope (2) and one each to Miller, Duve, and Waring. Miller, Funes, Bravo, and Richard Farias each got an interception.

In the Quarter Finals, Culver City faced a familiar foe in the Los Altos Conquerors, a team they recently defeated in the Bonita Tournament. The defense once again shined as they only allowed one touchdown and one other first down. The final score was 32-6 as Eckhaus threw two touchdowns to Miller and Pait, and one to Crump. Chapman had the lone interception.

In the Semi Finals, Culver City lost to the Division 1 Notre Dame Knights who went on the win the Championship against Palos Verdes 20-8. In the consolation Finals, Antelope Valley beat South Torrance 18-8.

Afterwards several coaches spoke about the tournament’s pace, that it was organized, fast paced, on time, competitive, and the referees were very competent. An assistant coach from North Torrance said, “I have been to many tournaments in the last few years, and this was by far the best tournament I have ever been to.” Kevin Rooney, long time head football coach at Notre Dame: “It was great. I would love to come back.”

The End


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