Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Culver High Defeats Hawthorne 55-8

Remaining Game Would Give Centaurs a Perfect Season

 

October 31, 2019

George Laase

Makai Cope tears away from a would-be tackler on his way to a 40-yard touchdown.

There's one game remaining in Culver City High's undefeated 2019 football season before the team starts focusing on the CIF Playoffs beginning the following weekend. The Centaurs will host Beverly Hills High for Senior Night this Friday, November 1, at Jerry Chabola Stadium.

Last Friday night the Centaurs extended their season winning streak to 9-0 as they summarily dismissed the Hawthorne High Cougars, 55-8, before a sold out Homecoming crowd celebrating throughout the evening. Quarterback Zevi Eckhaus threw five touchdown passes to four receivers while the rushing attack scored on three scintillating runs.

"We came out there and took care of business," said Culver head coach Jahmal Wright. "We weren't complacent. We didn't let Hawthorne hang around. I thought we were sharp. We scored on almost every possession. Everybody touched the football on offense."

The Centaurs scored three touchdowns in the first quarter and four more in the second quarter to take a commanding 48-0 lead over the Cougars. Following the very entertaining Homecoming halftime shows by the school's marching band and dance team, the second half went by in a blur as it was played under a continuing running clock.

The Culver City offense had only 31 total plays from scrimmage yet still managed to light up the scoreboard as it has been doing all season. The impressive offensive numbers have become almost commonplace but the defense has also been as complimenting. They rarely allowed Hawthorne past midfield while recovering two fumbles, recording four quarterback sacks and blocking one punt.

No less than 27 Centaur defenders registered at least one tackle while 38 of the 83 total tackles assisted. Senior linebacker Isaiah Williams made a team-leading 11 total tackles including two tackles for loss. Maxwell Crosner, also a senior linebacker, added nine tackles, five solo and one for loss. Antonio Moten, Enson Bravo, Quinton Chapman, David Naranjo and Diego Caldera each had a tackle for loss.

Williams continued his dominance on defense with a sack and a fumble recovery. Naranjo also registered a quarterback sack while Emari Pait caused and recovered a fumble. Senior running back and special teams player Nolan Halloran blocked a punt deep in Cougar territory to set up another Centaur score. In three of their last four games the defense has allowed only one touchdown.

Wright: "The defense got a lot of stops and tackled well. It was a good game for us as we get ready for the CIF Playoffs. We respect all of our opponents but we go into every game expecting to win."

The Centaurs wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as running back Mekai Evans-Bey sprinted 27 yards up the middle untouched into the end zone three and a half minutes into the game. Three scrimmage plays later Emari Pait stripped and recovered the ball, giving Culver possession at the Hawthorne 28-yard line.

One the next play Eckhaus connected Makai Cope across the middle untouched for a touchdown and a 13-0 lead. On Culver's next possession running back Ayinde Bankole torched the left sideline untouched for a 66-yard touchdown, prompting the Homecoming crowd into another wild celebration. It was Bankole's fourth touchdown of the season.

The scoring relay continued into the second quarter as Chris Miller made a one-handed receiving grab just before running out of the end zone for a 27-0 lead. "It was pretty spectacular. Zevi put it the only place he could and Chris brought it in," said Wright.

"As a coaching staff, we're blessed with a plethora of talent. It's a good problem to have. I think the most difficult thing is trying to keep all the players to just wait their turn. When you have talented players like we do, they want to help the team. So they're real anxious to touch the ball and showcase what they can do."

Culver City increased the score to 34-0 when wide receiver caught his ninth touchdown pass of the season at 8:10 in the second quarter, a 10-yard reception untouched in the back of the end zone. Two minutes before halftime Evans-Bey took a handoff, cut right and raced 44 yards untouched down the sideline for his eighth rushing touchdown of the season.

On the last play of the first half Miller caught a 5-yard touchdown pass to send the Centaurs into the locker room with the game virtually locked up. They added one more to the highlight reel on the first drive of the third quarter. Cope caught a pass near the left sideline, juked his defender and maneuvered through the rest of the Cougar secondary for a 39-yard touchdown reception.

With the clock running continuously in the second half, Culver City mostly with the second unit and reserves and had very few offensive possessions. Hawthorne finally scored a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter on a 14-yard pass. They successfully made their two-point conversion of a run up the middle.

The Centaurs currently lead the Ocean League with a 4-0 record followed by Lawndale High at 3-1. El Segundo High and Santa Monica High are tied for third place with 2-2 records. Hawthorne is in fifth at 1-3 while Beverly Hills High remains winless in league with a 0-4 record. The Normans were 3-2 before the Ocean League season started.

George Laase

Makai Cope catches his second TD pass of the night.

Coach Wright and his staff will once go deep into their roster against Beverly Hills this Friday night in preparation for the post season. "We're going to play our young guys that don't play much to get some experience and make sure nobody gets hurt. We hope to have a good week of practice to stay sharp."

Going undefeated this far into the season is not lost on Coach Wright and his staff. "It's a testament to how hard we've worked as a coaching staff and as a football team. We actually set out before the season started to win every game that we play."

"It's not normal to say something like that but that's how confident we are. And so far we've had nine games and we've won all nine of them. So I'm proud of the team."

 

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