Culver City Centaurs continue to fly under the radar


November 11, 2021

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Linebacker Aaron Salas celebrates Culver City's first round win over Shadow Hills 21-9 after he led the Centaur's defense with 14 tackles, including a tackle for loss.

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Culver City High School football. A truck load of seniors graduated from last seasons' team and in that graduating class was two All-State players, several All-CIF players and the Centaurs dominated the All-Bay teams. Someone forgot to tell the 2021 Fall team that this was going to be a rebuilding year.

This year's team was full of a lot of new players and a freshman quarterback and they finished the regular season with a record of 6-3 overall and 4-1 in a tough Bay league. Last weekend, 140 miles away in Indio they won their first round CIF Division 6 playoff game against Shadow Hills, 21-9. This Friday the Centaurs take on Camarillo, the No. 1 seeded team in Division 6, at 7 p.m. inside the Jerry Chabola Stadium on the Culver City High School campus.

Few people expected Culver City to be in this position but with a great coaching staff and a mixture of talented young players and veterans they find themselves right back in the prestigious CIF spotlight. "You remind the players how hard and how long we have worked for this moment and we have to make it count," said Centaur head coach Jahmal Wright in a telephone interview last Sunday. "We have to lay it all out on the field. We are excited to be moving on in the playoffs. It's a big deal."

Every year presents different challenges and this year Wright and his staff build an offense around a freshman quarterback but he is not your typical freshman. Like any young player, Alonzo Esparza is great one week and not so good the next week. Against Shadow Hills he was great. "He did not turn the ball over and he completed 18 of 25 passes for 197 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions," said Wright. "He completed over 70% of his passes. I will take that any day of the week."

Senior running back Jamiere Munson was also a catalyst for the offense against Shadow Hills running for 97 yards and scoring on a 57-yard dash to the end zone to break the game wide open. This season Munson has run for 840 yards and 10 touchdowns and Esparza has thrown for 2622 yards and 21 touchdowns.

The offense played well but the defense and the offensive and defensive line deserves the game balls. Those units have carried the Centaurs all season and last Friday they really came to play. Culver City's defense held Shadow Hills to a total of 122 yards, 106 yards passing and 16 yards running the ball. Those are incredible numbers at any level of football. "The defense did a great job all night," said Wright. "They kept getting stops and they kept getting the ball back to the offense. The defense really held it down for us.

Camarillo is 7-4 and they played in the four team Camino league. On offense they are led by quarterback Brody Meyers. He has passed for 2036 yards and 19 touchdowns and their running game is led by Nathaniel Madrigal who has 557 yards. Their top receiver is Jack Maulhardt who has 41 receptions for 722 yards. On defense the Scorpions are led by Jamie Schatmeir who has 97 tackles.

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Ethan Harris catches a 37-yard bomb from QB Alonzo Esparza.

"They are a tough physical team," said Wright. "They are the No.1 seeded team in our division for a reason. It's going to be a tough game but I think it's a great matchup and I think it's going to be a great high school football game."

Wright continued to talk about the game against Camarillo. "We have the speed advantage but it's going to come down to the team that makes the least number of mistakes and the team that executes the best."

Wright is also hoping that playing in front of the home crowd will give his team that extra inspiration they will need to beat Camarillo. "I think our home atmosphere is great and like I said before, I am excited and our team is excited to be in the CIF playoffs once again."


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