Friday, Jul 2024

Culver City safety James Wright leaps high to try block a pass by Redondo Union's Cadence Turner during the Centaurs 27-14 win over the Sea Hawks last Friday at Redondo. PHOTO BY GEORGE LAASE

                                    By Steve Finley Sports Editor

     It seems like every week is a big game during a high school football season. Homecoming, rivalries and senior night all make up an exciting season for high school football teams all across the nation. Friday night is one of those nights for the Culver City high school football team. It’s Senior Night and the Centaurs will play another important Bay League game when they host Peninsula at 7 p.m. inside the Jerry Chabola Stadium.

     The Centaurs are 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the Bay League after beating Redondo Union last Friday night on the road, 27-14. Redondo came into the game with a record of 5-1 so the Culver City players, coaches and fans were happy with the victory. “It was a great win tonight,” said Culver City head coach Jahmal Wright after the conquest over Redondo. “Redondo has a great coaching staff and some very good players. They came out ready to play but we were able to fight back and win the game.”

     They won the game because of their defense and their running game on offense. Wright was ecstatic about the play of the offensive line. He had high praise for Dane Taylor, Keenan Carter, Yahir Grijalva Martinez, Ricardo Leon Trujillo and Jonas Ross. “They did a great job for us tonight,” said Wright. “We had to lean on them. If it wasn’t for our offensive line I don’t know if we would have won the game.” The offensive line opened up big holes for running back Pierce Reynoso who scored four touchdowns. So far this season Reynoso has gained 646 yards and is averaging 7.6 yards per carry. He is also one of Culver City’s best defensive players at his linebacker position. Assistant coach Anthony Thomas said he is the heart and soul of the team.

     Now it’s Senior Night and the Centaurs are hoping some of their seniors like Justin Oum, Brandon Mahoney, Sammy Silvia, J.R. Kirkwood, Reynoso, Taylor, James Wright, Carter and Martinez can lead them to victory Friday night. “We are hoping to get a win on senior night because these Bay league games are so important, so our goal this week is to figure out the best way to play a clean football game and honor our seniors,” said Wright.

     Against Redondo the Culver City offense appeared to have trouble with the passing game. “It’s high school football,” said Wright. “We are coaching teenagers. They are going to do some good things and do some things not so good. It’s always a growing experience. I have been coaching for 24 years and I am still learning how to be patient and how to get the best out of these young men.”

     One senior who will have special memories of his senior season is James Wright, the coach’s son. It’ not easy playing for your father because you are an extension of his football tree. Against Redondo James Wright made a key interception late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. “I saw the quarterback running a boot leg play so I kept back pedaling so when he threw the ball I was ready to make the play,” said James. “It felt great to be able to make that play.”

     James knows Peninsula will be ready to battle the Centaurs Friday night. “We have a great opponent in Peninsula,” said James. “They are 0-2 in the Bay league but they are still a very good team. They are going to try to fight against us and ruin our senior night.”

     James is really happy about the way the defense has played, especially the last two league games. “Our defense has to keep being dominate and keep playing hard on every play.”

     James also runs track and guess who the head track coach is, it’s his father. James said track helps him with his acceleration and his quickness. “Playing football and running track for my father is great because I am able to be with my family.”

     Defensive backs and linebacker coach Anthony Thomas is a 1997 Culver City high school graduate who has been coaching the Centaurs for 11 years. Thomas also coaches track and field. He had this to say about the game against Redondo, the upcoming game against Peninsula and what he likes about the 2023 Centaurs.

     “It makes me feel pretty good, beating Redondo. The defense played well and it was a big win for us. Against Peninsula we need to focus on us and keep to our battle plans. We need to do what we have to do to win the game. This team plays more together than some of the other teams I have coached at Culver City. There is not a lot of finger pointing, that’s what I like about this team.