California School for the Deaf handles Culver, 44-14
Culver had faced plenty of talented athletes prior to last Friday's game, but likely none have been bigger, or faster, than No. 3 and No. 11 wearing the white away jerseys.
The Bulldogs played host to the California School for the Deaf (Fremont) last Friday in Culver, and found out quickly that senior Spezio Harmount and sophomore Calel Aramboles would not be stopped easily.
After Culver kicked off to begin the game, the Eagles went right to work. Harmount took the opening run from scrimmage 10 yards, before Aramboles broke off a big gain into Culver territory. The latter play was called back due to a chop block penalty, but the run was a sign of things to come.
Aramboles capped off the 12-play, 82-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run, which he set up on the prior play with a 22-yard gain. Culver had trouble tackling the sophomore running back, who is listed on the Eagles' roster as 5-foot-11, 225 pounds.
"He was a big boy," Culver senior Jorge Olivera said. "Compared the biggest guy on our team … he's fast, he's big, he's strong. I mean, he's a good guy."
The Eagles ultimately won 44-14, although the final score line suggested it was a blowout. Culver, in fact, had a few solid opportunities to draw closer, but were unable to do so.
After Harmount scored on a 40-yard fly sweep, and Aramboles' 17-yard touchdown run gave the Eagles a 20-0 lead, the Bulldogs' offense got into a rhythm.
Culver took over at its own 41-yard line following a punt in the second quarter. Olivera picked up five yards on first down, before Victor Torres took four straight handoffs all the way to the Eagles' 1-yard line. Joe Russo scored on a diving run on the next play, and following Olivera's extra point kick, Culver trailed 20-7.
But California School for the Deaf scored on its next possession, taking a 26-7 lead into halftime.
The Bulldogs forced an Eagles punt to start the third, then marched down into the red zone in two plays. A couple Olivera runs set up first and 10 on the 16-yard line. From there, however, Culver couldn't gain yardage.
On fourth down, Olivera rolled out to his left, and saw Russo running open in the corner of the end zone. Olivera's pass found Russo's hands, but he caught the ball just beyond the back line.
"I think we don't always finish," Culver head coach Jesus Retano said. "We drive and we get in the red zone, but we need to find a way to score … We need to get together Monday and finish this season. I think we're a good team; we just need to put it all together, play as one and finish a game."
The entire Eagles team is made up of deaf and hard of hearing kids. Their primary form of communication on the field is through American Sign Language and other visual cues. The officiating crew, and sometimes, Culver players, held both of their hands straight up to signal that the play was over, during instances when it wasn't necessarily obvious.
Head referee Daren Doolittle said after the game that the officiating crew didn't change much of their signals to communicate with California School for the Deaf. The biggest adjustment, he said, was getting used to the Eagles' sideline, which, except for the occasional cheer, was completely silent during the game. Instead, they made their loudest statement on the field.
The Eagles took over on their own 14, and on just their second play, unleashed their combination of speed and strength. Harmount received a handoff inside, first putting a vicious stiff arm on a Culver defender, before breaking towards the Culver sideline. A couple defenders overran Harmount, which allowed him to cut it back towards the middle of the field and run for an 85-yard touchdown, giving the Eagles a 32-7 lead eight-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter.
Culver added its second touchdown early in the fourth quarter, on a Torres 21-yard touchdown run.
Culver (0-8) has one game remaining, next Friday at home against Weston-McEwen (1-5). Now that the Bulldogs know the game will be their last of the season, they have a nothing-to-lose mentality.
"Everybody's hungry for a win; everybody wants to win," Olivera said. "We've got nothing to lose. We just gotta go play ball, have fun and hopefully we come out on top."