By Greg Goodyear
After winning two passing tournaments early in the summer, the Culver City football team traveled to Mission Viejo to battle some of the state’s powerhouse schools during a tournament last weekend.
Culver City was not intimidated by teams on the field and ended the tournament as one of the top teams.
After winning two passing tournaments early in the summer and going to the finals of the prestigious Bonita “Air Assault” tournament, head football coach Jahmal Wright decided to put the Centaurs Into one of the toughest tournaments the program has seen. They traveled over an hour to Mission Viejo high school to battle with a veritable who’s who of California and national football powers.
There were teams like Mater Dei, Corona Centennial, St. John Bosco, Narbonne, Long Beach Poly, Orange Lutheran, and Mission Viejo. Mater Dei, were national champions last year and several of the schools have won state championships as well as numerous CIF championships. Culver City was not intimidated and felt that they could play with anybody. In fact, last year when Mater Dei won the national championship, Culver City tied them at the Rams passing tournament near their practice facility in Thousand Oaks.
Coach Wright started sophomore to be Zevi Eckhaus at qquarterback andthe kid did not disappoint. He threw several touchdowns and cut down his interceptions playing against some of the best teams in the nation. Zevi has played numerous years of pop warner that have prepared him for this upcoming football campaign. In fact, he started three games last year when starting quarterback Jonathan Martin went down with a knee injury and the other two quarterbacks were also injured. Since five of the CC starters have been offered Division I scholarships, Culver City Has some depth and some skill to compete with just about anybody!
In the first game, Culver City opened up with the national champion Mater Dei Monarchs! Culver City played them very tough and the defense shined! In fact, if Jamal Glaspie would’ve intercepted a pass in the end zone late in the game, Culver City might’ve gotten the upset. Unfortunately, the Monarchs scored right after that, but the Centaurs wouldn’t back down and scored making the final score 21-14.
Culver City then beat Carlsbad, the same team that beat them in the finals of the Santa Fe tournament last year, 37-14 with Eckhaus throwing four touchdowns! Andrew Brown returned to action after having rehabbed his track injury and also grabbed a nice pick.
Culver faced a very athletic Silverado team from the high desert in Victorville and pulled away at the end 39 to 16, as the defense shined! Eckhaus threw four touchdowns and Nick Lucero chipped in one more. CC’s d-backs Tyler Luckett and Jamal Glaspie both had picks.
Since the Centaurs finished second in their pool, they were put into the gold division, which was made up of all open and division one football programs. They drew the No. 1 seeded Corona Centennial in the quarterfinals. Culver got down early by 16 points, but came roaring back to tie the score at 23 and then shut down the Huskies on their final position to force overtime. In overtime , you only get one play from the 40 yard line and the team that goes down the field the farthest wins. Unfortunately, Eckhaus threw a pass to the left side and a Huskie defender jumped in front and intercepted it and Culver City lost 25-23.
That put them into the consolation semi finals against one of the nations most prestigious programs,the Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits. Poly has a new coach and a new quarterback & Culver City went back-and-forth with them! With seconds left in the game and the score tied at 28, Long Beach just barely made a first down, the the game went into overtime.
But the referees checked the rules and found out that a team can finish a drive if they get a first down before time runs out. So Poly had four more downs. A few plays later The L.B. Quarterback threw over the middle and the receiver caught the ball and it appeared to be short of the goal line when the two Culver City defenders knocked him back. But the referees called it a touchdown and Culver City went down 35-28.
After the game, Coach Wright praised his team and said that he was proud of them and how they played so well against some of the best programs in the country. Culver City goes on vacation for a few weeks & starts camp August 1 with the first game Friday, Aug. 24 at West Torrance. Then their first home game is Friday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. versus Peninsula! Culver City feels strongly that they have a real strong shot to win the league and CIF titles this year. You must come out to support your exciting Centaurs.