No Championship Repeat For Centaurs
December 5, 2019
The exciting part of the football playoffs, at every level, is that the playoffs are single elimination games. This can lead to some stunning upsets, and this season in the CIF football playoffs have been no exception. In a clash of two distinct offensive styles, the Swordsmen from St. Paul high school in Santa Fe Springs upset the Culver City Centaurs, 14-10. For St. Paul, the victory propels them to a Section 5 Division Championship match-up at home against Aquinas high school of San Bernardino.
For the Centaurs, the loss ended their dreams of returning to the Southern Section Championship game for a second straight season. In 2018, Culver City won the Southern Section Division 7 Championship, defeating San Jacinto high school on the road. The previously unbeaten Centaurs ended up with a record of 12-1. The win improved the Swordsmen's record to 12-1.
The game was a striking contrast between the St. Paul commitment to running the football and the Culver City spread passing offense. The Swordsmen make no secret of what they are doing on offense. They line up in an I-formation offense, with the quarterback under center, a fullback lined up behind the quarterback and a tailback behind the fullback. The Swordsmen used two tight ends most of the night. This was an attitude offense, basically stating: "Here we come, stop us if you can."
The Swordsmen had 55 offensive plays on Friday Night and 52 of them were running plays. They gained 247 yards rushing on a 4.8 yard per carry average. They only gained two yards on three passing plays. They accomplished their goals for the evening. The Centaurs, on the other hand, want to spread the offense out and make the game a track meet. With quarterback Zevi Eckhaus and an abundance of speed, this has proved to be very successful.
Against the Swordsmen, the Centaurs led 10-7 at halftime, with a three-yard touchdown pass from Eckhaus to wide receiver Chris Miller the difference. The third quarter is where this game was lost for the Centaurs. The Centaurs had two turnovers in the quarter, an interception and a fumble. They had a touchdown pass called back on a penalty. They had an interception overturned due to a defensive holding call. All in the third quarter.
Late in the third quarter, the Swordsmen took the lead for good on a 16-yard run by quarterback Gene Valdez. From there, the Swordsman used their ball control offense to control the football for over seven minutes of the 4th quarter. The Centaur offense got the ball back with about two minutes remaining in the game, but an Eckhaus fumble was recovered by St. Paul, ending the frustrating night for the Centaurs.
It was a disappointing end of a very good season for the Centaurs. The Centaurs came into this game ranked No.25 in the state of California by MaxPreps. They were ranked No.1 in the Southern Section Division 5 rankings. They were averaging 51 points per game. Unfortunately, the St. Paul ball control offense was effective in limiting offensive possessions for the high-flying Centaur offense.
The St. Paul pass defense was well designed to slow down the Centaur offense. Four Centaur turnovers, dropped passes and penalties were too much to overcome against a very good opponent. But this has been a very good season, with dramatic wins over tough opponents like Palos Verdes and Lawndale.
As UCLA legend John Wooden once said: "Losing is only temporary and not all encompassing. You must simply study it, learn from it, and try hard not to lose the same way again. Then you must have the self-control to forget about it." That should be the lesson for the Centaurs.