Going into last year, Culver City realized that with the talent they possessed, all they needed was a good, solid performance from their new starting quarterback, Zevi Eckhaus, to have a big shot at winning a CIF crown. Eckhaus was replacing only the second 3-year starter at quarterback at Culver City High School since 2002 in Jonathan Martin, who is second in school history in career passing yards with over 8,000. The other 3-year starter was arguably the best quarterback in Culver City history according to most experts: Darius Banks, who led the Cents in 2005-2007, ended his career with the fifth most passing yards in California state history.
Unfortunately, Jonathan Martin was hurt late in the 2017 season, while another bench QB was also hurt, and the other ineligible. This left just the freshman Eckhaus as the only quarterback left in the program at that time. Since coach and Athletic Director Tom Salter had come to Culver City with the philosophy of keeping freshman on the bench and only using them in blowout situations, Eckhaus became the first quarterback to start a game as a freshman at Culver High. In fact, he was the only freshman to start at any position in school history. The experience that he gained at the end of the 2017 season gave him and the coaching staff confidence that he could do the job in 2018.
However, there were still a number of things he needed to work on in the offseason to make him a solid starting quarterback for the Centaurs. He had to improve his fundamentals and mechanics, increase his velocity, and he needed to continue to sharpen his ability to read defenses. In the offseason, he worked on all of that, lifted weights diligently, and succeeded in bettering himself in all categories.
Many coaches do not consider that the passing league tournaments are really important, and do not reflect how the team will perform during the season, because there are not any offensive and defensive lineman playing. But since Culver City changed from a running attack to a quarterback-driven offense early in Coach Salter’s tenure, they started placing more emphasis on the performance of the quarterback.
The biggest change came about in 2005 when former assistant coach Dameon Porter installed the spread offense to take advantage of the outstanding and fast athletes that Culver had and still have. Since Culver City would become one of the first schools in Southern California to use the spread offense, it only made sense to use the summer passing tournament games as an indication of how they would perform in the regular season and what they needed to work on.
In the summer of 2018, Eckhaus lead Culver in the passing tournaments and they did very well winning 2 and making it to the finals in the prestigious Bonita Air Assault. This was the first time that the Cents had done so well in the summer and this gave the team reason to believe that the 2018 season would be a good one. But the team exceeded all expectations, winning their first CIF title in 40 years, and receiving an invite to the State Regional Final for the first time in school history. This year, the Cents have already won 3 passing tournaments under the steady hand and veteran experience of Eckhaus, and the prospects for the 2019 season look very bright indeed.
At the end of the season, Eckhaus was named first-team All-Ocean League and First Team All-CIF, but the biggest award that Eckhaus got was being named to the All-State Sophomore team. This is a rare feat in Culver City history as only a few athletes have received All-State honors. And it is a huge honor in California because there are so many talented football players in the state.
Eckhaus had tremendous numbers last year, and the one that pops out the most is his 50 touchdowns in one season! The numbers are surreal for any varsity player, let alone a sophomore. Last year he threw for 3,487 yards in 13 games and completed 208 of 349 passes for a completion percentage of 59.6. That percentage broke the all-time Culver City sophomore completion percentage record formerly held by Darius Banks. In addition, he had only nine interceptions all season. His quarterback rating was very good at 122.
The goal for the Cents this year is to win their first League title in 3 years and then to go on to win another CIF title. If they can do it, it would be the first time they have ever gone back to back in school history.