Culver City – In a first round playoff game against top-seeded Culver City the Bishop Diego High football team found itself in a familiar position. The Cardinals needed to play a flawless game to have a shot at upsetting one of the top teams in Southern California.
Despite a fast start for Bishop Diego, the mistakes mounted and Culver City methodically imposed its will to capture a 34-6 victory on Friday night at Jerry Chabola Stadium.
“You’ve got to play a pretty clean game to beat a team as talented as that,” said Bishop Diego coach Tom Crawford. “We had a couple opportunities I think early to be right in that game at halftime.
“We just couldn’t get anything going. It just seemed like we were kind of going backwards on offense and the game got away from us a little bit.”
Culver City quarterback Zevi Eckhaus tossed four touchdown passes, which gives him 53 through 11 games this season. The Centaurs boast an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions led by wide receivers Chris Miller, Makai Cope, Tanner Duve, Emari Pait and Dylan Clark.
However, it was the Bishop Diego offense that struck first. After forcing the Centaurs to punt on their first possession of the game, the Cardinals marched 50 yards on 11 plays culminating in a two-yard touchdown run by Adrian Soracco that gave Bishop Diego a 6-0 lead and melted nearly eight minutes off the clock.
The blueprint for pulling off the shocking upset was evident on that touchdown drive, but there were also signs of trouble, including four penalties, which became a consistent theme throughout the game.
The Culver City offense immediately responded on its next possession on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Eckhaus to Clark and Bishop Diego never found the same rhythm on offense, despite occasional success in the running game.
The Centaurs took their first lead of the game at the 10:09 mark of the second quarter on a perfectly placed fade from Eckhaus to Chris Miller. Bishop Diego defensive back Jackson Haskell was in good position on the play, but the ball placement of Eckhaus and body control of Miller resulted in a spectacular 30-yard touchdown catch to put Culver City ahead 13-6.
“We just kind of settled down and were able to work better,” Eckhaus said. Everybody was kind of getting used to playoff football.”
Late in the second quarter, Bishop Diego penetrated into Culver City territory by way of a pass interference penalty and appeared poised to perhaps even the score just before halftime, but a Michael Luckhurst pass was intercepted by Emari Pait, who returned the ball into Bishop Diego territory.
On the next play Eckhaus went deep to Tanner Duve for a 36-yard touchdown and the Centaurs took a 20-6 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Bishop Diego defense battled in the second half and succeeded in holding to Culver City to its second lowest scoring output of the season, but failed to muster any offense outside of Adrian Soracco who ran for 102 yards on 20 carries in his final high school game.
“Throughout the four years this is a team that is really a family and it is reflected in how we practice,” Soracco said. “We couldn’t get it done this week, but overall I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”
Bishop Diego finishes the season at 5-6. Culver City will travel to Chino Hills for a second round game next week.