Culver City High Face Tough Fight Against Warren High
September 12, 2019
This Friday night the undefeated Culver City High football team take on the Warren High Bears of Downey in a road game for the highly anticipated rematch from last year's thrilling barnburner. The Centaurs scored in the last seconds on a game-ending bomb from quarterback Zevi Eckhaus to Kevin McGuire for a 34-28 heart-stopping win.
Warren High came from behind in the seesaw battle to take a 28-27 lead and the unexpected upset win with 26 seconds remaining on the clock. Pre-amping the level of intensity, the Centaurs had scored 36 seconds earlier for a likely 27-20 win with 64 seconds remaining in the game. Adding to the suspense, Warren missed two earlier field-goal attempts with 2:08 on the clock to take a 23-21 lead.
Eckhaus on setting up the game-winning throw: "Our focus was getting the ball back and trying to find the best way to get into the end zone, score a touchdown with the limited amount of time we had left. We tried to get some plays to gain some yards so we were close enough to take the big shot."
The Centaurs went on win the 2018 CIF Division 7 Championship, which included a semifinal 40-14 victory over Northview High of Covina. Northview was the same team that beat Warren High in Round 2 of the Division 7 playoffs. Warren finished the season with an 8-4 record and a second-place finish in the tough San Gabriel Valley League.
Similar to Culver City, Warren has opened the 2019 season with two wins, respectively taking out St. Anthony High and Huntington Park High rather easily. The Bears have still maintained their high-scoring offense despite losing last year's team captain and quarterback, Chris Venegas. However, the 2-0 Centaurs have increased their scoring efforts this year with a 58-point average through two games.
"We just want to attack our opponent in certain spots based on what we've seen on film," said Coach Jahmal Wright preparing for Warren High. "We're on the attack mode, not really waiting to see what our opponent is going to do. We've done our film preparation beforehand and we have an actual plan to attack."
Last Friday afternoon, Culver City overwhelmed Peninsula High, 60-21, in warm temperatures at their hilltop campus, complete with scenic views of the entire Los Angeles Basin from the Rolling Hills Estates. The Centaurs took a commanding 31-7 halftime lead over the Panthers before cruising to the finish line in the second half.
Wright was pleased with his team's efforts.
"I saw improvements in the offense not turning the ball over," Wright said. "I saw an improvement in how we started the game. I thought we started the game faster and also saw improvement on our defense being able to get stops early on in the game."
Culver High's talented corps of weapons struck from everywhere on the field as they amassed 750 all-purpose yards in a balanced attack. Wide receiver Chris Miller scored three touchdowns while Makai Cope, Mekhi Evans-Bey, Emari Pait and Khary Crump each had a touchdown. Kicker Matthew Lopez converted seven extra points and one field goal.
Eckhaus passed for four touchdowns and 474 yards against the Panthers. He broke the school's quarterback record for completion percentage in a game by connecting on 23 of 27 passes for 85.2 percent. That broke the 50-year record set by current Centaur quarterback and kicking coach, Greg Goodyear, who completed 17 of 20 passes for a 85 percent completion in 1969.
Pait started off the game for Culver on a right sweep for a one-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead at 10:41. Next, Lopez nailed a tough 27-yard field goal in windy conditions at 8:18. After the defense made another stop, Eckhaus drove the Centaurs 65 yards and scored on a two-yard keeper for a 17-0 lead after the first quarter.
Chris Miller used his speed to score his first touchdown by outrunning the secondary down the right sideline for a 45-yard bomb at 10:30 of the second quarter. The Centaurs took a 31-0 lead on a 61-yard drive nine minutes later. Wide receiver Makai Cope caught a 15-yard touchdown pass inside the left end zone pylon at 1:48. Peninsula finally scored with an 11-yard pass 14.5 seconds before halftime.
Culver City stretched the lead to 38-6 on Miller's second touchdown, a 20-yard reception at 7:26 of the third quarter. Seconds later Peninsula scored their second touchdown with a 29-yard pass at 5:01. Defensive back Khary Crump immediately returned the favor with a 79-yard kickoff return for touchdown, racing into the end zone virtually untouched.
"We actually had the return set up for the opposite way and Khary actually did that all on his own. He just saw a gap and went the opposite way and raced up the right sideline," Wright said.
Miller scored his third touchdown on a 55-yard catch and run down the right sideline two minutes into the fourth quarter for a
53-14 lead. Peninsula scored their last touchdown on a 70-yard run at 5:55 with Culver playing their defensive reserves. Following the kickoff running back Mekhi Evans-Bey torched the left sideline for a 60-yard touchdown and 60 points for Culver City.
"Mekhi Evans-Bey definitely showed flashes of how explosive he can be," said Wright. Turning to this Friday night's matchup, he intimated: "It's going to be a battle against Warren. They have a very good team, they're undefeated and have good athletes to match up as well. So, we're excited for the challenge."