The rubber hits the road on Friday night when the two best teams in the Bay League clash in a game that will determine the league championship in football. Culver City high school will host Palos Verdes at 7:30 p.m. inside Jerry Chabola Stadium. It is one of the key match ups in the CIF Southern Section.
Both teams come into the game with 3-0 league records. Culver City has scored 139 points and given up 40, while Palos Verdes has scored 97 points in the three league games and allowed 37. Culver City ran pass Peninsula last Friday 49-0 and Palos Verdes beat Redondo Union 16-14. “Against Peninsula we were able to use are superior speed and we were able to bust some big runs and hit big plays over the top” said Culver City head coach Jahmal Wright during a phone interview last Sunday.
“Hopefully, we can just keep improving,” said Wright. “We are not playing perfect football. We still have stuff we need to work on. We are going to keep working on our weaknesses and on what we are not doing well. That will keep us busy.”
What the Centaurs are doing well is scoring points and stopping their opponents from getting into the end zone. Helping Culver City score the majority of their points is their All-State quarterback, Zevi Eckhaus.
Eckhaus threw for 281 yards and four touchdowns against Peninsula. In three games he has thrown for 1113 yards and 14 touchdowns with no interceptions. He has also run for two touchdowns.
He broke Culver City’s passing record previously held by Darius Banks, also against Peninsula. He now has 9,422 yards during his four-year career.
“We just executed the game plan,” said Eckhaus. “We did what coach Wright told us to do. We played hard and we got stops on defense and that was huge, and our offense was rolling. We executed well and we came out with a victory.”
Culver City’s offense and defense is playing at an extremely high level. Eckhaus’ favorite target is All-CIF receiver Emari Pait. Pait has caught 21 passes for 600 yards and nine touchdowns this year. Against Peninsula Pait caught six passes for 226 yards and four touchdowns. “I did not know I was going to have that big of a game,” said Pait this week. “I just knew I wanted to go out there and catch every pass that was thrown to me. It’s a good feeling. Every week I am progressing more and more.”
The defense is also improving every week. Keeping Peninsula out of the end zone was special. Culver City’s defense is big and fast. “Our defensive coordinator Tom Crump challenged the defense to pitch a shutout and the defense responded,” said Wright. “I am very proud of our defense.” They are led by lineman Adrian Simon, linebackers Antonio Moten and Quinten Brunson and defensive backs Jagger Williams and Pait.
Friday night, the Centaurs will be playing an especially important league game against Palos Verdes. Palos Verdes has won the Bay league nine years in a row dating back to 2011. During that time, they have lost only one league game.
“We are just focused like every other game,” said Eckhaus. “Obviously Palos Verdes is great competition for us, and I think the whole team is really excited about the match up but all of us are just focused on taking it day by day as far as the week goes.”
“We will practice this week and we all look forward to Friday night.”
Recently the Culver City football program has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, which means readers all over the world now know about Culver City. “It shows that we are taking the right steps as a program and that we are being acknowledged,” said Wright. “There are a lot of public schools out there working hard with great athletes.”