Elijah Juarez
Football Long Beach Poly Wilson

Football: Long Beach Poly Ground Game Powers Past Wilson

Long Beach Poly running back Elijah Juarez had one request after his powerhouse performance against Wilson on Friday night in a Jackrabbit victory. Juarez had 256 yards rushing and scored three total touchdowns in the game, but he didn’t want the spotlight on him.

“I just want to say that my offensive line made everything I did tonight possible, they’re playing great right now,” said Juarez.

Indeed, the Jackrabbits line was driving force in a 42-6 Poly win that saw the Jackrabbits pile up 326 yards in a game where the clock ran for the fourth quarter.

“Obviously Elijah Juarez is a load,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “But our whole offensive line is playing great right now.”

The game was a renewal of Long Beach’s oldest rivalry, a football series that dates back to 1932. It was played in front of a sellout crowd at Wilson, and the Bruins recognized their recent CIF and State champions at halftime, with water polo Thomas Hale also being inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.

The Jackrabbits came out running it, as Juarez and Amajay Gravelly had five straight carries to start the first Poly drive, and then QB CJ Montes hit Juarez for a 13-yard touchdown catch.

The Poly defense clamped down on Wilson QB Ryan Pettway and the rest of the Bruins offense as the Jackrabbits built a big lead, mostly on the ground. Juarez picked up 48 yards on a 3rd and 39 then scored from two yards out to make it 14-0. A 40-yard TD run from Juarez made it 21-0, then Barbee called the name of another Poly defensive lineman in Elijah Dolphin, as Dolphin took it in from 20 yards out to make it 28-0.

Wilson dug its heels in and Pettway led a great drive to respond to that score, as the Bruins went 76 yards in nine plays for a score, with Pettway pump-faking to Zecheriah Dolphin then hitting Tyrie Robinson for a score. The Bruins were in position to add another score in the second quarter after a 59-yard run from Dillon Harris but missed a field goal.

Poly added a score on a pass from Montes to Alex Austin and then their final score of the game in the third when Montes found Keyonta Lanier in the end zone.

“One thing we talked about with the team was leaving your mark on Long Beach football, getting a win and making plays in a rivalry like this,” said Barbee.

Montes went ⅝ for 51 yards and three touchdowns, hitting three different receivers for the scores.

For Wilson, Pettway threw for 89 yards and the score and Marcos Nottingham ran hard all night with 15 carries for 62 yards.

“It was big lights, big eyes a little bit,” said Wilson coach Mark Ziegenhagen. “I was happy with how we played in the second half, but we left some plays out there and we missed some opportunities.”

Poly (4-2, 2-0) will visit Cabrillo next week while Wilson (3-3, 1-1) will host Jordan.

PHOTOS: Long Beach Poly vs. Wilson Football

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.