Culver City blanks West Torrance with new players
September 2, 2021
The Culver City Centaurs successfully kicked off the 2021 varsity football season on the road with a 31-0 shutout over West Torrance High at Fred Peterson Stadium last Friday night. The tide has definitely turned between the two schools in the past decade. It was Culver City High's fourth consecutive win over the Warriors after having lost the previous five meetings in the series.
The game also marked a new quarterback chapter in Culver City Football history as freshman quarterback Alonzo Esparza looked steady and poised in directing the offense. The Centaurs have been blessed for the past six seasons at the quarterback position after Jonathan Martin and Zevi Eckhaus raised the level to a higher standard while establishing Culver City High as a football power.
Senior running back Jamiere Munson set the tone early in the game with punishing runs behind a solid offensive front line against the Warrior defense. Munson rushed for 169 yards on 17 carries and scored one touchdown. Under a balanced attack, this allowed Esparza to spread the wealth passing to the Centaurs lethal receivers, hitting six targets for 26 completions and two touchdown passes.
A main factor was the Centaur defensive and offensive lines controlling the line of scrimmage. The defense pressured the Warriors backfield the entire evening, rarely allowing West Torrance quarterback Ronan Taylor breathing room to operate. Culver's defense allowed only three pass completions on 10 attempts for 30 yards and gave up only 201 total offensive yards. Running back Kamren Juarez was West's leading weapon, rushing for 106 yards of the team's total of 171.
Esparza and the Centaurs wasted no time in scoring on their first position when wide receiver Johnny Fino caught a 12-yard pass in the endzone for the early 7-0 lead at 9:01 in the first quarter. Munson, who returned the opening kickoff to the 40-yard line, was the catalyst for the eight-play 60-yard opening drive. Kicker Diego Caldera successfully converted his first of four extra points in the game.
Munson increased the lead to 14-0 in the second quarter, breaking through the line and bursting for a 35-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter. That culminated a six-play 81-yard drive that began with 2:14 remaining in the first quarter. On Culver City's next drive, a 50-yard bomb from Esparza to wide receiver Elijah Adams set up Caldera's 35-yard field goal for a 17-0 halftime lead.
The Warriors' most serious threat to score came late in the third quarter with the score still 17-0. Following a punt return miscue giving the ball to West deep in Culver City territory, the Centaur defense denied the Warriors on fourth-and-two from the 9-yard line. Once again, the defensive front line smothered West's brunt push up the middle while preserving the shutout.
The Centaurs proceeded to march 91 yards downfield on seven plays in two minutes and 22 seconds. Esparza threw a 44-yard touchdown bomb to wide receiver Darius Poles to increase the lead to 24-0. Poles led all City receivers with nine receptions for 126 yards. With 1:31 remaining in the game, senior strong safety William Schultz intercepted a pass and returned it 43 yards for Culver City's last score.
Unofficially, Esparza threw for 352 yards, completing 26 of 36 passing attempts. Munson carried 17 of the 21 total Centaur rushing attempts for 169 yards and a 9.9 rushing per attempt average. Poles caught nine of the total 26 pass completions while Elijah Adams caught five passes for 76 yards. Andrew Abdelmeseh caught three passes for 63 yards, Johnny Fino caught three for 32 yards and Jaden Vilareal received two for 18 yards. Munson caught three passes out of the backfield for 13 yards.
The Centaurs face one of their toughest tests of the season this Friday as they hit the road again to take on perennial power Loyola High. The Cubs are currently ranked 16th in the State with a 1-1 record. They lost to 11th ranked Inglewood High to open the season opener, giving up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to the Sentinels. Loyola rebounded last Friday, defeating Damien High in a tight contest, 16-14, this time withstanding a fourth quarter rally by the 15th-ranked Spartans.
The Centaurs 2021 challenging nonleague schedule includes three home games versus Pasadena High on September 10, Warren High on September 17, and La Serna High on September 24. They begin their Bay League schedule with a home opener against Mira Costa High on October 1. A road game at Redondo Union is on October 8; a home game versus Peninsula High on October 15; an away game at Palos Verdes on October 22, at 3 p.m. before wrapping up the regular season with a rivalry match at Santa Monica High on October 29. All games except for the Palos Verdes game are scheduled for Fridays' at 7:00 p.m.