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By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Apple Valley to battle Culver City in final game of the season


April 15, 2021

George Laase

Apple Valley will have to stop Culver City's Emari Pait if they expect to beat the Centaurs on Friday night at Culver City. Both teams are 4-0.

Quarterback Zevi Eckhaus threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Culver City Centaurs to come from behind 42-28 victory over the Palos Verde Sea Kings in a Bay League high school football game last Friday. The victory clinched the Bay league Championship for the Centaurs in their first season in the Bay League. For the Sea Kings, the loss ended a streak of nine consecutive Bay League titles in football.

Eckhaus, who also scored a touchdown on a one-yard dive into the endzone, had a lot of help from his teammates in overcoming a 21-6 second quarter deficit. With the victory, the Centaurs sent a message to the Sea Kings that their dominance of the Bay League is no longer a certainty. The Centaurs also beat the Sea Kings, 55-52, in the 2019 season.

Safety and wide Receiver Emari Pait played a sensational game on both sides of the ball. Pait caught seven passes for 198 yards, including a terrific 42-yard touchdown reception in the end zone to give the Centaurs their first lead of the game with 8:41 remaining in the final quarter. The throw from Eckhaus was a perfect spiral in the back of the end zone and the 6-foot-2 Pate simply jumped over the smaller defender to make a beautiful hand catch.

Pait then followed that highlight catch with a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown, giving the Centaurs their final margin of 42-28. Pait, playing both offense and defense, had seven tackles and two interceptions on defense to go along with two touchdown receptions on offense. Pait will be playing his college football this fall at Fresno State in the Mountain West Conference.

The all-time passing leader in Centaur football history, Eckhaus is headed to Bryant University, a Division 1 school located in Smithfield, Rhode Island. The Bryant University Bulldogs are members of the Northeast conference. Wide receiver Legend Waring caught seven passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns. He is committed to Cal Poly of the Big Sky Conference.

The Centaurs were scheduled to play Santa Monica high school Vikings this Friday in the final game of their abbreviated five game season schedule, but the game was canceled by the Vikings. The Centaurs were able to find an extremely worthy opponent in the Apple Valley high school Sun Devils. The Sun Devils are 4-0, having scored 179 points in four games while allowing their just 21 points for the season.

They are the champions of the Mojave River League after defeating Oak Hills high school, 35-7 last Saturday. This was their first league title since the 2017 season and their second MRL league title overall. The Mojave River League is part of the CIF Southern Section, located in the Hesperia and Apple Valley area of San Bernardino County, which is north of the Cajon Pass in the San Gabriel Mountains.

The Sun Devils are led by junior quarterback Jayden Denegal. While his statistics are not nearly as impressive as Eckhaus, the 6-foot-4 Denegal has scholarships offers from Michigan State, Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Colorado, Utah, and Oregon State, among others. In a 35-0 win over Hesperia, Denegal threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns, adding a 33-yard touchdown run to his impressive performance. He will be a handful for the Centaurs defense.

The Sun Devils are currently the 36th ranked team in the state of California and 22nd in the Southern Section Rankings, according to the MaxPreps rankings. The Centaurs are ranked right behind the Sun Devils, at 37th in the state of California and 23rd in the Southern Section rankings. This should be an entertaining matchup between two juggernauts, both with outstanding quarterbacks.


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