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By Steve Finley
Sports Editor 

Culver City football starts the CIF playoffs on the road again


November 4, 2021

Junior Darius Poles of Culver City gets ready to catch a pass against Santa Monica last Friday night at Santa Monica College

For the third week in a row the Culver City varsity football team will be on the road. This time they will travel 127 miles to the city of Indio to battle the Shadow Hills Knights on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Centaurs are the 174th ranked team in the state of California and the Knights are the 170th ranked team in the state.

Culver City comes into the CIF Division 6 playoffs with an overall record of 6-3 and they were 4-1 in the Bay league which put them in second place behind Palos Verdes. Shadow Hills is 8-2 overall and they had a third place Desert Empire league record of 3-2.

The Centaurs will try to use their speed and quickness to win the first-round playoff game, but they will need to take care of the football and stay away from turnovers. "No mistakes," said Culver City head coach Jahmal Wright when asked by a reporter what will it take to win round one of the playoffs. Wright was focused on the playoffs right after their victory over Santa Monica last Friday night.

Wright wants his young team to play a complete game without turning the ball over to the other team. "If we can stay away from bad snaps, holding penalties and missed assignments we should be okay," said Wright last Friday night after they beat Santa Monica 27-0 at Santa Monica College. "It's always on person that is doing something wrong. If we can just play a clean game, I will be happy with that."

Wright hopes Culver City's young players mature fast. "Preparation will be the key. We have a lot of new players but after nine games nobody is really a rookie anymore. We have played some tough teams, so I think we are battle tested. The schedule we played, I think it prepared us for the playoffs."

Longtime assistant coach Cornell Myles knows it's going to take a compete team effort to win in the playoffs and he is confident the Centaurs will come through with a victory. "We are ready for the playoffs," said Myles after the Santa Monica game. "I think our running game is really going to pick up. If we can run the ball and throw short passes, we will be able to steal a first round victory."

Few mistakes and a solid defensive effort will put the Centaurs in a great position to win the game against Shadow Hills. "The defense has been carrying us and we have been making enough plays on offense to make it happen," said Wright.

Against Santa Monica the Centaurs pitched a 27-0 shut out and one of the most satisfied Centaurs on the Culver City side lines was defensive coordinator Derrick Huezo. Huezo even smiled towards the end of the game when a Centaur player made a play in Santa Monica's backfield. He does not smile too often. "It feels good seeing the defense get a shutout," said Huezo. "The good thing about it is we got everyone in the game. Everybody contributed to the shutout. We have a good group of guys. They did a good job of staying focused and playing football."


Culver City senior wide receiver, Johnny Fino is pointing to the playoffs.

The player that really needs to stay focused is freshman quarterback, Alonzo Esparza who knows football is a team sport. "Our whole team is doing a great job. We have the best offensive line in the league. We have a great running game, and our receivers are outstanding, and our defense is doing a great job and even our kicker is having a great season."

Esparza knows he is following in the footsteps of two of the greatest quarterbacks in Culver City football history, Jonathan Martin and Zevi Eckhaus. "There is a lot of weight on my shoulders trying take Zevi's place," said Esparza. "He is a legend at this school. He is a great player who is playing college football at Bryant University. I look up to him and I am just trying to fill those big shoes."

The Centaurs are hoping Esparza can start walking in those big shoes on Friday night.


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