Centaurs Beat Bears 56-28

Host Palos Verdes High in Culver on Friday Night

After a successful ascending 3-0 start to the 2019 football season on the road, Culver City High will entertain perennial power Palos Verdes Sea Kings, in the Centaurs' home opener this Friday, September 20.

The defending CIF Division 7 champions are entering the contest on the heels of a convincing 56-28 victory over the Warren High Bears last Friday in Downey.

Last season the Centaurs failed to hold onto a fourth quarter lead against the Sea Kings, giving up two touchdowns in the final quarter to lose by a point, 37-36.

"It was a tough pill to swallow being up by 12 points with under 10 minutes left in the game," said Centaur head coach Jahmal Wright. "We hoped we could seal the deal and finish them off. To their credit they were able to bounce back."

"Palos Verdes is a strong team. They play a tough schedule. They win the Bay League championship year in and year out," said Wright. "They're coming off a CIF Finals appearance and have a lot of returners back. It's going to be a challenge."

The Sea Kings are 3-1 this season, their only blemish, a 20-10 loss to the California State 15th-ranked Corona del Mar Sea Kings two weeks ago. Last year, Palos Verdes lost the CIF Division 5 title match to Lawndale High, 34-20. Coincidentally, the Centaurs lost 34-27 at Lawndale during their Ocean League clash last season.

Friday the 13th and a full moon over Warren high school began with both teams exchanging blow for blow. Each time the Bears scored using their punishing ground game, the Centaurs responded. Eckhaus hooked up twice with wide receiver Tanner Duve in the first quarter for a four-yard and a nine-yard touchdown. A 20-yard touchdown pass to Makai Cope tied the game at 21-21 late in the first half.

"Warren is talented, have big linemen and athletes on the outside, so they were definitely a formidable opponent. They were able to run the ball on us down the field in the first half. They came up with an offensive formation that we hadn't game-planned for," said Wright.

The Centaurs took their first lead just before halftime with a 23-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Miller. It was just the beginning for this tandem as Culver's aerial assault was the difference in the game. The defense also made adjustments at halftime, limiting the Warren's running game while not letting them to eat up the clock to further deny City's high-powered offense.

Eckhaus extended the lead to 33-21 three minutes into the second half with a one-yard touchdown run. Warren running back Jahsiah Sheffield cut the deficit to five points with a 10-yard dash five minutes later. Culver's next possession virtually put the game on ice with a 64-yard touchdown screen pass to Miller down the right sideline.

Wright: "Right after Warren scored a touchdown to cut our lead to 33-28, we got the ball back and Chris Miller scores on a 64-yard touchdown. So that kind of broke their spirit and they never really recovered from that. It was a right screen pass to Chris and he never got touched. Our linemen did a great job blocking, he read his blocks and was able to score."

The Centaurs upped the lead to 49-28 three minutes into the fourth quarter with a two-yard pass to Dylan Clark. The final score of the game was appropriately a 45-yard touchdown pass from Eckhaus to Miller, his third score of the game. Miller finished the game with seven receptions for 207 yards. Eckhaus completed 23 of 36 passes for 378 yards and seven passing touchdowns, giving him 16 for the season.

Offensively, Mekhi Evans-Bey led the Centaurs in rushing with 79 yards on 16 carries. Ayinde Bankole carried the ball seven times for 22 yards. Cope had five catches for 70 yards and one touchdown. Duve caught four passes for 56 yards and two touchdown passes. Clark made five catches for 29 yards and a touchdown. Kicker Matthew Lopez converted four extra-point attempts.

Khary Crump excelled in kickoff returns with two for 87 yards, both setting up the Centaurs in excellent field position. "Khary Crump had some very good kickoff returns. After Warren had scored touchdowns, he had a 49-yard return and a 39-yard return. So he gave us great field position twice. And we also just hit some big plays to get us down the field," said Wright.

Friday night hosting Palos Verdes at Jerry Chabola Stadium promises to be one of the better match-ups of the CIF football season. It's a moment not lost on Coach Wright, his staff and team: "We actually watched the film of last year's loss to Palos Verdes as a team just to kind of refresh our memory of how we let one slip away. We'll be ready on Friday night."


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