After many months of monitoring COVID levels to ensure coronavirus levels have dropped, the State of California, the County of Los Angeles, the CIF Southern Section office, the City of Culver City and the Culver City Unified School District have cleared most of the schools in Southern California to play outdoor sports this year. Although several sports have been cleared, football is at the top of the list.
“I found out that it was a strong possibility about two weeks ago that all we needed was some numbers to drop, but what really gave me hope was when I saw the states of Washington and Nevada had started playing football because our numbers were kind of similar,” said Culver City head football coach Jahmal Wright in a phone interview this week.
The Centaurs started practicing last Friday (February 26) and their first game of an abbreviated five game season is Friday, March 19, against Mira Costa in Manhattan Beach. Kick off is set for 7 p.m.
They will play four more league games every Friday after the Mira Costa game.
“The kids are very excited,” said Wright. “I give them props because we have been doing pod training and working out for a while and their enthusiasm and work ethnic were good but when they got the news that they were actually going to have a season they were definitely lit up.”
Not having a normal football season creates several different problems, mainly keeping in shape. “We are in decent shape,” said Wright. “As a whole we are in pretty good shape because we have been able to pod train and work out three days a week since February, so we have gotten three to four weeks of working out and getting back in shape.”
Making sure everyone stays safe will take everyone staying on the same page. “Our parents and families have been very diligent with staying safe and being very cautious to make sure they are doing the right things, so we don’t jeopardize the season,” said Wright. “Also, the school district has done a great job with all of the protocols to make sure kids get temperature checked and screened every time we have a practice, so everything is in place.”
Although the virus numbers have dropped several players decided not to play football for different reasons but the school still has enough players to field three teams, varsity, junior varsity and freshmen. “I totally understand that some players did not want to play football, so we just have to move forward with what we have.”
What they do have is probably the best quarterback in school history in Zevi Eckhaus. Not only is he one of the best in school history he is one of the best in the nation, so the Centaurs have a strong foundation going into a new and more competitive league. They are moving from the Ocean League to the Bay League. Schools in the Bay League are Mira Costa, Redondo Beach, Palos Verdes, Peninsula and Santa Monica.
“Eckhaus and senior receivers Legend Waring and Emari Pait have been the catalyst for talking to the young players,” said Wright. “We have some young talent. They are inexperience but they are talented. They remind me of the other freshmen groups that we have had come through the program.”