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Culver City coaches get redemption with win over Gardena Serra

Coach Jahmal Wright and offensive coordinator Aki Wilson played for the No. 1 Centaurs in 1994 when they were beaten by No. 16 Santa Maria. No. 16 Culver City defeated No. 1 Serra on Friday.

November 19, 2011|Eric Sondheimer
  • St. John Bosco quarterback Rene Medina throws on the run during the third quarter of Friday's playoff game against Alemany.
St. John Bosco quarterback Rene Medina throws on the run during the third… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Jahmal Wright was a 17-year-old starting free safety in 1994 for No. 1-seeded Culver City when the Centaurs were beaten in the opening round of the Southern Section Division VII football playoffs by No. 16 Santa Maria.

On Friday night, Wright was able "to get rid of that memory" after Culver City, seeded No. 16 in the Western Division playoffs, turned the tables and upset No. 1 Gardena Serra, 21-14.

"To be on the other side is sweet redemption," said Wright, in his third year as coach.

Culver City (8-3) scored the only touchdown of the second half on a one-yard run by Akili Skannal to start the third quarter. The defense was led by junior linebacker Keishawn Haley and cornerbacks Anthony Luckett and Myles Washington.

"We had a quiet confidence going in because we matched up athlete-wise," Wright said. "The only question was up front. They're huge, and we were able to hold up."


For the record: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that Culver City lost to Santa Maria St Joseph in the first round of the playoffs in 1994. It was Santa Maria.

Alex Jackson had a 76-yard touchdown catch, and wildcat quarterback Kevin Porche passed for 149 yards and ran for 57 yards.

Culver City's offensive coordinator, Aki Wilson, was the tailback on the 1994 team, so he and Wright had plenty to celebrate in wiping out one of their worst football memories.

"We were so elated," Wright said.

Culver City will play host to Santa Maria Righetti in a quarterfinal game.

On the run

South Torrance upset No. 2-seeded Playa del Rey St. Bernard, 55-41, in the Northwest Division playoffs behind an offensive line that enabled sophomore running back Brandon Chavez to rush for 353 yards in 44 carries and score four touchdowns.

Return of the 'rabbits

Long Beach Poly (10-1), an 18-time section champion, crushed Newport Harbor, 49-14, in its Pac-5 opener. Last season, the Jackrabbits lost in the first round to Santa Ana Mater Dei.

"We're trying to let people know we're back," receiver Richard Smith told Gazettessports.com.

The answer will come Friday, when Poly faces Santa Margarita (9-2) in a quarterfinal game at Veterans Stadium.

"I don't know if we can overcome Poly's speed," Santa Margarita Coach Harry Welch said. "They're at another level. We'll do the best we can. "

The OC dominates

Of the eight teams still alive in the Pac-5 Division, six are from Orange County, including three from the powerful Trinity League.

Going public

Culver City over Serra, South Torrance over St. Bernard and Huntington Beach over Los Angeles Loyola were three major upsets involving public schools beating private schools.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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