The Centaurs Juggernaut Rolls On
Culver Downs El Segundo 42-9
October 24, 2019
One season after winning the CIF Division 7 Football Championship, Culver City High is enjoying its best start since 2007, when that team reeled off 11 consecutive wins to begin the season. In Jahmal Wright's 11th season as the head coach, the Centaurs are 8-0 with two games remaining in the 2019 season regular schedule.
The Centaurs took care of business last Friday at El Segundo High, 42-9, to run their Ocean League mark to 3-0. They have a Homecoming Game against Hawthorne High this Friday Night, October 25, at Jerry Chabola Stadium before ending the league season the following Friday hosting Beverly Hills High on Senior Night.
"This Friday against Hawthorne is our Homecoming Game. We want to be 9-0 and we think we have a very good chance of making that happen," said Coach Wright. "So that's our goal: focusing on trying to play clean games: games without turnovers, without mistakes, without offside and holding penalties."
"That was our goal this past game. We started off a little slow and sloppy, so hopefully we can do better in these next two weeks against Hawthorne and Beverly Hills."
El Segundo entered the game tied for first place in the Ocean League with Culver City. The Eagles took a 2-0 lead with a safety late in the first quarter. They had intercepted a pass earlier in the quarter and managed to drive the ball down to the Centaurs' 4-yard line. On first down, Culver cornerback Chris Miller denied the Eagles with an interception at the one-yard line.
Unfortunately for the Centaurs, El Segundo' defensive front line tackled running back Mekhi Evans-Bey in the end zone for the lead. "We thought we would call a safe play and run the ball up the middle. But to El Segundo's credit they were able to get a lot of penetration and Mekhi had nowhere to go," said Wright.
"We actually got a little lucky on the interception. We were in man-to-man coverage and Chris Miller, being the good football player that he is, just came off his man and saw an uncovered player. And he was able to intercept the ball."
The Eagles used a balance attack to deny Culver City the control the time of possession for much of the first quarter with a string of first downs, including several third down-and-long conversions. "They had a good game plan early and executed it well. Coach (Steve) Shevlin and his experienced coaching staff gets the most out of their players and they have them ready to play every game," said Wright.
Yet, when quarterback Zevi Eckhaus started revving the Centaur offensive engine, the tide quickly turned. He began by hitting Emari Pait with a 39-yard touchdown pass two minutes into the second quarter. Pait snared the pass between two defenders at the 10-yard line and carried them across the goal line for a 7-2 lead.
Eckhaus then threw a short pass to Makai Cope who then sprinted down the left sideline past the Eagle secondary for a 42-yard touchdown at 5:31 in the second quarter. Kicker Matt Lopez converted the second of his four successful extra point attempts for a 14-2 lead. Meanwhile, the Culver defense started getting into the Eagle backfield to take the sting out of their drives. They registered 10 tackles for loss for the game.
El Segundo punted on their next possession and Tanner Duve returned it for an apparent touchdown. However it was called back for a penalty. Two plays later Duve also apparently caught a 26-yard touchdown pass... only to have that play called back by a penalty. Unfazed, the Centaurs offense responded with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Eckhaus to Cope on the very next play for a 21-2 halftime lead.
Wright: "Tanner is a great athlete and an explosive player that's been in the program for four years. He waited his turn and has really developed over his career. He also had the longest catch of the game with a 62-yard reception. So, I'm excited for the season that he's having this year."
Culver City put the game out of reach with three touchdowns in the third quarter. Legend Waring caught a short pass and swept right through the Eagle defense for a 44-yard touchdown pass at 8:03. Evans-Bey scored his sixth rushing touchdown of the season with a 17-yard off tackle untouched jaunt into the end zone at 4:41.
Eckhaus connected one more time with a beautiful 40-yard touchdown pass to Emari Pait, who snatched the ball over the goal line with the defender draped all over him. El Segundo managed their first and only touchdown with a two-yard plunge in the closing minutes.
"Our defense had another excellent game, 100%. They didn't give up a touchdown until late in the game when we had our third string in," said Wright. "I'm proud of how the defense is playing. We have high achieving goals and one of our goals is to win every game that we play. To make that happen, we have to be able to dominate and play well against teams we're supposed to beat."
Offensively, Eckhaus spread the ball out to multiple receivers. Even though the Centaurs had only 31 offensive plays, he completed 20 of 23 passes for 469 yards and five touchdowns. He just broke his own school record set earlier this season for pass completion percentage in one game with 86.96%.
Evans-Bey at running back had only six carries but made the most of it with 48 yards, one touchdown and multiple blocks on passing plays. Miller led receivers with five catches for 59 yards. Waring had four receptions for 132 yards while Duve had four receptions for 85 yards. Cope had three receptions for 97 yards and Emari Pait had three receptions for 113 yards. Cope also ran in a two-point conversion.
Defensively, Isaiah Williams, Antonio Moten, Richard Farias and Bryce Williams each recorded a quarterback sack. Isaiah Williams led in tackles with a grand total of 18, including 10 solo tackles. Enson Bravo had nine tackles, four solo. Michael Crosner had eight tackles while Aaron Salas had seven tackles, six solo and three tackles for loss. Pait had six tackles and five solos. Khary Crump and David Naranjo had five tackles each.
The Centaurs host the Hawthorne Cougars (4-4 overall, 1-2 in league) for their Homecoming game this Friday at 7:00 p.m. Hawthorne opened the season with two non-league wins and beat Beverly Hills this past Friday, 43-6. Culver City beat the Cougars 62-14 last season at Hawthorne. The Centaur reserve and role players should be getting plenty of reps against the Cougars.
"What's important to us is that all of our players in a Centaur uniform gets a chance to touch the field," said Wright. "It's my job as the coach, regardless of the division seedings and the scores to make sure that everybody plays. We have good kids that come to practice every single day. They have great attitudes and have really bought into the team mantra."