By Kaylenn Gomez
Nothing could have prepared the Culver City Centaurs for the painful loss they experienced at their home CIF playoff game Friday night against the La Serna Lancers. Their radiant smiles quickly ended with a 52-31 loss.
Culver City High School’s football team took to social media to galvanize local excitement for their big Semi-final game before the match. The community was expecting a win as they told their followers it was “#personal” and they were there for “#revenge.”
Hundreds of people wearing blue and white showed up in support of Culver City. But they unfortunately walked away that night with tears in their eyes.
The nearly three-hour game started well with the Centaurs. Senior Sammy Silva dove inside the 10-yard-line, setting up his team with a chance for a touchdown. Shortly after, Freshman Gianni Haynes caught the football from Silvia and gave the team their first score.
Culver City’s crowd roared with excitement. Parents jumped on the bleachers, and cheerleaders cheered with joy for their team. The game quickly turned, however, when Senior Adrian Castro from La Serna sprinted his way to a touchdown. Culver City didn’t seem worried just yet. They knew they wouldn’t be tied for long.
Castro sprinted, trying to make another touchdown for his team. He took the football into Centaur territory. But Culver City did not let him get away. They had to get La Serna out of their side of the field, and would not back down without a fight.
Soon after, Haynes gave the Centaurs another touchdown. Senior Henry Brownlow quickly hit the extra point, giving Culver City a 14-7 lead.
La Serna’s CJ Ceron tossed the ball to senior Jayden Northrup for another Lancer touchdown. And after Christian Miranda’s extra point, the game was tied, 14-14.
On a 30-yard field goal, Henry Brownlow then gave the Centaurs a lead, 17-14, with an ecstatic crowd happy to see Culver City retake the lead. Their progress was short-lived, however. Just a few minutes before the first half would come to an end, La Serna took their first lead and never looked back. La Serna’s Ceron quickly passed to Senior Jackson De Lange, who proceeded to sprint 68 yards to give his team a touchdown. Following Miranda’s extra point, it was 21-17.
Everything went downhill for the Centaurs as soon as the second half began as La Serna wasted no time building up their lead. In their third quarter, they quickly earned an 18-point advantage, going from 21-17 to 35-17. It was at his moment when the crowd began to visibly and anxiously worry. There was no way of telling if they would be able to win.
After La Serna’s two scores, Culver City tried to make up for it. Silvia threw the ball to junior Myles Singleton, who kept his grip and ran into the end zone. Brownlow gave his team the extra point, narrowing the Lancer’s lead to 38-24.
Culver City quickly wiped their smiles away as La Serna’s Senior Owen Long ran the 53-yard line into the end zone. Unfortunately, Long ran out of bounds on his way in, negating the score. Fortunately for the Lancers, Castro gave his team a touchdown within seconds, keeping the lead score, 45-24.
The Centaurs were behind, and the voice of frustration was heard on the Culver City sidelines as families were a bit stunned by what was happening.
Fortunately for them, Singleton was able to give them another touchdown, with Brownlow giving them the extra point, 45-31. The high school band proudly played and the cheerleaders jumped into high gear to try and keep the Centaurs alive.
Unfortunately for them, it was their last score of the night.
While the Culver City community was eager for more scoring, they had to leave their hopes in the stands as the team left theirs on the field. The Centaurs did everything they could to stop La Serna from scoring on their home turf. They fought hard, but Whittier’s La Serna fought harder.
The Lancers stopped Culver City at every opportunity. The final score of the night came when La Serna Senior Owen Long made his second touchdown of the night with their Senior’s kicker, Miranda giving them their final point. The cheers from La Serna got louder as they realized they were going to go back home winning the Semi-finals, 52-31.
The Centaurs coaches kept yelling, “Keep your heads up” as the team walked by. Some players took a final glance over at the scoreboard with tears rolling down their cheeks. They then embraced their team with long hugs as they knew this game was the end for the seniors to play as a team for Culver City High.
Even with the unfortunate loss, the Centaurs’ fifteen-year Head Coach, Jahmal Wright, said he was proud of the boys. “Football is like life,” he said. “I think the team fought til the end, we just came out a little short.”
Wright also mentions how this game was special because he, along with his oldest son who is the Defensive Coordinator for the team, was able to watch another son, James Wright, play for the varsity team one last time.
“It’s a family affair,” he said. “We get to do what we love. It’s bittersweet.”
While the game didn’t turn out as expected, there is no doubt that Centaur Nation did what they always do: show up for one another. With tears in their eyes, and drizzles of rain falling from the sky, they embraced their classmates, friends, and teammates one last time on the field and reminded them that they still had a good run.
Photo by the author.