The St. Bernard High School Vikings opened the 2004 football season at home with a 36-6 loss to Culver City Friday, September 10th, after the team struggled to execute on offense.

St. Bernard (0-1) managed to earn only 52 yards in total offense in the non-Del Rey League game and went into halftime scoreless, trailing the Centaurs (1-0) 22-0.

The Vikings didn’t jump on to the scoreboard until 9:19 left in the third quarter, when James Suthers stepped up for the defense and returned a 25-yard interception for a touchdown.

It was St. Bernard’s only score of the night and a failed two-point conversion kept the Vikings down 29-6.

“We gave them some good field position, but it’s just inexperience and we have some growing to do,” Vikings Coach Greg Dixon said.

“Our focus on executing plays was not where it should’ve been.”

St. Bernard senior quarterback Anthony Fernandez, who completed only three of 12 passes for ten yards, agreed with his coach that some focus was missing for the athletes.

“There was a lack of focus,” Fernandez said. “Everyone needs to pay attention and execute.”

The first two possessions in the game by St. Bernard resulted in a fumble and an interception, and Culver City quickly turned both turnovers into scores.

After first getting on the scoreboard with a field goal by Jack Maeshiro, the Centaurs wasted no time adding a touchdown with a 34-yard pass by quarterback Kris Cueva to wide receiver Martin Henderson for a 10-0 lead.

With 47.5 seconds left in the first quarter, Culver City stretched its lead even further after running back Dwight Mayfield, who finished with 148 yards rushing, scored on an 11-yard run.

The Centaurs entered halftime with a comfortable 22-0 lead after Steven Johnson’s 37-yard touchdown reception from Cueva, who finished with 138 yards passing.

St. Bernard continued to struggle on offense in the second half, and Culver City punished the Viking defense early after Mayfield scored on a 70-yard run with 11:30 left in the third quarter.

The last points on the scoreboard were added by the Centaurs after Mayfield’s third rushing touchdown of the game with 7:29 left in the third quarter.

“We need to focus on controlling the ball and that’ll be the thing the whole year,” Dixon said.

“We’re very inexperienced in a lot of positions and it showed tonight.”

Venice loses to Carson 24-21

In a rematch of last football season’s Los Angeles City Section final, the Venice High School Gondoliers again left the field with a defeat after a narrow 24-21 loss at Carson Friday, September 10th.

Venice (0-1) entered the non-Western League season opener after playing Carson (1-0) twice last year, including a 34-13 regular season victory and a 30-20 loss to the Colts at the City Section championships.

The Gondoliers struggled to capitalize on offense early in the game, and headed into halftime trailing Carson 18-7.

“We were trying to find ourselves and deal with having some new players,” Venice coach Angelo Gasca said.

“It’s attributed to some inexperience, but as time goes on the results will change.”

The results did change for the Gondoliers with 4:27 left in the second half, when the team was able to overtake the lead after quarterback Robert Ambers’ 40-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jimmy Armstrong.

Venice jumped ahead 21-18 after a two-point conversion pass by Ambers, who was 12-of-20 in passing for 226 yards and two touchdowns.

“We started to have some good stops on defense,” Gasca said. “We converted some drives and the momentum changed.”

The game didn’t go Venice’s way for too long after Carson’s Dwayne Sanders converted two fourth-down receptions, including a 40-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Bo Napoleon with 30 seconds left to play.

Gondolier running back Ken Ashley finished the game with 14 carries for 143 yards and a touchdown.

“We showed that we can hang tough with one of the better teams,” Gasca said. “We know that we have the ability to come back. We’re willing to stay in the battle, but there’s a lot of room for improvement.”

IN OTHER GAMES:

Westchester High School grabbed its first victory in a season opener in four years, after the Comets sent Morningside High School home with a 32-27 defeat.

Going into the game, Comets coach David Williams said his team needed to concentrate on stopping Morningside’s rushing attack, but it was Westchester’s running game that made the difference.

Greg Ray broke through the Morningside defense in the second half for 149 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

With 8:21 left in the game, Ray put the Comets ahead for good after a 67-yard score.

Santa Monica High School was unable to earn its first victory in more than a year after West Torrance handed the visiting Vikings another loss, 19-6.

Santa Monica and West Torrance tied when they played last year, and both teams finished the season winless with 0-9-1 records.

The Vikings will seek to get their first victory this season at home against Palisades High School at 7 p.m. Friday, September 17th.

St. Monica High School opened its 2004 football season with a non-Camino Real League loss, 43-30, at Artesia High School.

The Mariners will next play at El Segundo High School at 7 p.m. Friday, September 17th.

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