Good things don’t last forever, and the Culver City varsity football team found that out last Friday night at Culver City High School, as St. Paul High School from Santa Fe Springs beat the Centaurs 14-10. It was a hard-fought game played before a capacity crowd, with both sides of the Jerry Chabola Stadium were packed. It may have been the largest crowd ever at a Culver City football game.
The parking lots were full and so were the stands. That’s what happens when two teams with rich football traditions get together to play a CIF Division 5 semifinal game.
Culver City came into the game as one of the highest-scoring teams in the state, but St. Paul had a game plan to stop the Culver City’s great passing attack. “I never dreamed we would hold Culver City to 10 points,” said St. Paul head coach Rick Zepada, who appeared to be in a state shock after the game. “We knew we had to win the clock. We had to run the football and take chances on fourth down and try to get them in a dog fight in the middle of the box. We have not changed in 60 years.”
The Centaurs came into the game with a perfect 12-0 record and St. Paul was 11-1. It was a clash between two great high school teams trying to get to the championship game, but Culver City picked the wrong time to struggle on the offensive side of the ball. “Offensively, we could not get on track,” said running backs coach Jarvis Redwine. “We had some chances, but we made to many mistakes.”
Redwine continued to say, “You can’t do that against a playoff team and that buried us. We will use this as a marker for next year. In important games like this, you can’t turn the ball over. This was a result of what can happen. We just have to move forward.”
The Centaur coaches knew the game was going be a ferocious struggle between two very good high school football teams. “We told the players before the game that this was going to be a war, and at the same time whoever wanted it more would come out with a win,” said linebackers coach Cornell Myles. “Now we have to deal with the reality that we lost, but we finished the season at 12-1. That’s pretty special. We have to get ready for next year, and wish the seniors the best in the world.”
Culver City defensive coordinator Tom Crump said that although the offense had an off night, there were times during the season the offense carried the defense. “I will tell our kids to keep their heads up,” said Crump after the game. “They played a heck of a game. It’s a team sport. We can’t point a finger at anyone. We have some seniors moving on but we need to take a few weeks off and put our nose to the grindstone and get ready for next season.”
A lot of seniors will be playing at the next level, and one of them is linebacker Isaiah Williams. Williams led the team in tackles the whole season, and head coach Jahmal Wright described him as the “man in the middle”. “The defense played hard,” said Williams after the game last Friday with tears flowing down his face. “They (St. Paul) scored one touchdown and we kept playing through. The game of football teaches us a lot of things. I have learned a lot playing football at Culver City.”