California Interscholastic Federation, CIF, CIF Southern Section, Culver City Centaurs, Culver City High School, football, Friday Night Lights, high school football, playoffs, Santa Barbara Dons, Santa Barbara High School
Culver City’s Joshua Ford (#1), trying to get away from Santa Barbara’s Salomon Manzanarez (#8) during the Centaurs’ 55-7 blowout on Friday night. Photo courtesy of independent.com
CIF SOUTHERN SECTION FOOTBALL DIVISION 7 PLAYOFFS, ROUND ONE
CULVER CITY CENTAURS vs SANTA BARBARA DONS
CULVER CITY, CA – NOVEMBER 2, 2018
To paraphrase Britney Spears, they did it again.
Bring the team that sported the best record in the Westside at 8-2, Culver City High’s first round playoff game against Santa Barbara was something that, even though I had covered and written about quite a few Centaur sports on this blog,
And even though I featured Culver in their first-place-in-the-Ocean-League showdown with Lawndale last season, as they were both undefeated going in,
I simply had to go cover the atmosphere, game experience, and the game itself at this first round playoff match, Culver City once again attempting to win their first CIF championship in football since 1978.
I got to Jerry Chabola Stadium about thirty minutes before kickoff, making sure I stopped by the band room to give the Centaur Marching Band a listen and to watch them march toward the stadium (more on them in a bit).
As I paid my $10.00 and entered, looking at Santa Barbara, with a record of 6-4, warming up, a pretty big memory flashed in my brain…
Sometime during early September, 1982
It was my first year at Santa Monica High School,
My first year in the Viking Marching Band, playing baritone saxophone and paying my first year sophomore dues (Samohi – Santa, Monica, and High, was a three-year school in those days),
And my very first football game and band performance, which was against…
Santa Barbara High School’s Dons.
Who Samohi blew away.
Thirty-six years later, two words described seeing that olive-green and gold-colored school warming up on the Centaurs’ field, the only two words that can possibly describe things…
The game between Culver City and Santa Barbara was quite anticlimactic, particularly since the Dons were without their starting quarterback, who had broken his collarbone, and were playing a sophomore back-up.
Which meant that those Dons were going into a playoff game on the road against a tough opponent with one hand tied behind their back.
And, to be honest, subsequently without too much of a chance.
Which proved to be true as the Centaurs built up a 28-0 halftime lead without too much trouble and cruised to a 55-7 win, which appropriately ended with an interception in the end zone by Culver’s Rudy Chavez as time expired, quarterback Zevi Eckhaus setting a school record with seven touchdown passes along the way.
Santa Barbara quarterback Deacon Hill (#10) trying to find some running room with Culver City’s Justin Jarmon (#23) trying to get a bead on him. Photo courtesy of the independent.com
As for what was going on around the game, which was decidedly more interesting…
When I ventured to the Santa Barbara stands during the first half, I noticed that the Dons’ gold jerseys had “Golden Tornadoes” instead of Dons on the front.
Which was obviously strange, as they were not any kind of tornadoes and this wasn’t Kansas or Oklahoma.
When i asked about it, I was told that it was a team playoff tradition dating back to the 1940s or 50s to wear the “Golden Tornado” jerseys, due to someone commenting that a Dons team from those days played like tornadoes.
Which is a pretty cool thing, the fact that a high school tradition has lasted seventy-odd years.
Which you don’t really see anymore; at least in the Westside.
The Culver High Band performing at Culver City’s Centennial last year. Photo courtesy of twitter.com
OK, let’s get to the Centaur Marching Band:
Last year I wrote that the band had come a long way, having more members and sounding much better than when I first heard them in 1999.
This year, they have come even farther with 85 members, including not one but two drum majors (oooh!)
Not only that, their quality has grown as well as their halftime show was songs from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Jesus Christ Superstar”.
Which I gave a complete A+ for effort, as I could easily see that those youngsters had worked so hard on that show and those well-known tunes.
I particularly liked the trumpet solos and the way the theme song, which closed the show, was played.
The growth and rising quality of that Centaur Marching Band has more than ever, led me to practically beg their director to enter them in tournaments, as Santa Monica has done for well over forty years.
Like I told that blue and black-clad band when I saw them last season, there are plenty of high school bands out there with half the size and half the ability of Culver’s.
Who those Centaur marchers could easily outplay.
And who are regular competitors on the SoCal marching band competition circuit.
That is even more the case now!
Another sign of that band’s growth was the fact that they performed at the Rose Bowl earlier this fall as a part of UCLA’s High School Band Day on October 6th.
And I was told that they were planning to perform at Disneyland, which I did with the Samohi band three years running in the early 80s, in February.
So those marching Centaurs are going places, to say the least.
Now more than ever, I’m looking forward to the day when they show what they can do to the SoCal marching band community in tournaments.
And this is coming from a former Samohi band member who has no ties whatsoever to Culver High.
A nice photo of the Culver City High cheerleading squad. Photo courtesy of altriumunisco.com
And as proof that I haven’t neglected them…
The Culver City cheer squad was equally as impressive as the band, with a large number of members who were well in sync with the band during certain songs as well as doing a great job getting the crowd going and interacting with the fans.
That cheerleader doing back flips after every Centaur score added a nice touch.
And I liked the interaction of the Culver City and Santa Barbara cheer squads during halftime as the band was doing their thing on the field; I noticed them in a full circle showing their moves and apparently having exuding good sportsmanship and fellowship with each other.
Which is what high school sports is all about – or should be.
Not only that, when I went to say hello and give complements to their coach, I ran into an old friend of my brother’s who I had gotten to know a little bit back in the day, whose daughter was on the Culver squad and in 11th grade.
Thoughts of “Time Flies” were dominating my head as she did her stunts with her friends.
As the game unfolded and eventually wound down, one thing went through my mind.
That high school playoff games in any sport, regardless the score, always has drama because for the seniors on the losing team, it’s not only the last game of their high school career,
For at least 98% of them – as I have read that only two percent of high school athletes go on to compete in college – it’s the end of their sports career. Period.
No more practices.
No more Friday Night Lights.
Or any kind of lights, natural or otherwise.
Time to get on with graduating high school and starting the rest of your life.
Which is always a sad thought that induces sympathy from me.
All right, time to sum up…
Once again, Culver City High provided a perfectly pleasant evening and experience as their football team being in the playoffs forced my hand again in featuring this blue and silver-colored school.
The Centaurs’ next opponent in the quarterfinals is Long Beach Millikan, who annihilated Pacifica just like Culver annihilated Santa Barbara.
Needless to say, I wish that team nothing but the best of luck.
And if they make the finals and the game is nearby, I’ll at least make an attempt to be there.
Hill (#10) getting chased down by Culver’s Antonio Morillo (#52) Photo courtesy of noozhawk.com