Culver City’s high school football team is training hard and everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that there will be a season played despite the coronavirus. The Centaurs have a lot to lose if their season is cancelled. They are ranked 24th in the State of California and 16th in Southern California. These are the highest rankings in Culver City football history.
“Our physical distancing workouts are going well so far,” said Centaur head coach Jahmal Wright last week during a telephone interview. “It’s very different from what we are used to, but we are following all of the protocols and attendance has been well. Guys are excited and team camaraderie is good and our senior leaders are really leading the way working hard. I pray that the season goes well.”
Although Wright is the head varsity coach, he is responsible for two other teams, the Junior Varsity and the Freshman team. All three are working out at different times. “We are treating these workouts like our summer workouts,” said Wright. “We are just trying to get our guys in shape physically.” Their first game is Jan. 8, 2021.
Like sports all over the world you can throw the calendar out the window. Teams are trying to play whenever and wherever they can. “Coaches are kind of creatures of habit, so our calendar is kind of topsy-turvy,” said Wright. “It’s new to us so we are adjusting as we go.”
Helping the Centaurs adjust is a team full of talented seniors. “Having the number of seniors that we have on the varsity team defiantly has eased the transition into what we are doing,” said Wright. “It’s going to be a lot less practices and a lot less preparation time before the season starts. Having senior leadership has really helped us.”
Some of those seniors are offensive lineman, Dylan Nichols, defensive back and wide receiver Emari Pait, strong safety and corner back Quinton Chapman, wide receiver Makai Cope, outside linebacker Antonio Moten, wide receiver and defensive back Legend Waring, quarterback Zevi Eckhaus, running back and defensive back Ayinde Bankole and defensive lineman, Adrian Simon.
Although the coaching staff has a senior laden team led by one of the best quarterbacks in the state in Eckhaus, they are also excited about some of the younger players.
“We know we have some talented young people, but they are unproven,” said Wright. “We won’t know how good they are until we start doing more football related activities. It is early right now. We are still in the physical distancing mode, so we are not doing normal football activities.”
One young player that a lot of people will be watching is Wright’s freshman son. “I want him not to think about being the coach’s son and just have fun.”
Having fun is what Wright wants all his players to do, especially his all-everything quarterback Eckhaus. “Zevi is doing awesome. He is so much stronger and he has put on a few more pounds, and Makai is really looking good. They will be one of the top quarterback-receive tandems in the state this year. Also, Ayinde is really looking like a senior running back and he should have a breakout year.
Wright and his coaching staff are excited about the offensive and defensive lines. The offensive line will have three returning starters and they are one of the biggest lines ever at Culver City.
Wright is beginning his 12th year as the Centaur head coach and his 21st season overall coaching football at Culver City. “We are adjusting and making it happen,” said Wright.