There was never any concern among the Long Beach Poly football coaches that their team would overlook Millikan and get ahead of themselves thinking about next week’s big game against undefeated Wilson.
“Frankly, since their head coach got hired, they’ve talked a lot of trash,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee, whose team started 1-3 but was dominant in its Moore League opener. “We want to talk with our pads and helmets and let the scoreboard have the final say…We’re still Long Beach Poly, we’re the 2019 version and we’re a very good football team.”
The Jackrabbits relied on a meat-and-potatoes approach against the Rams and used a dominant rushing attack and defensive effort to win, 38-3.
“This gets us ready for next week,” said Barbee, referencing the Wilson game. “Playing in a rivalry game against an undefeated team, it’s going to be sold out—coach Ziggy has his team rolling over there.”
Based on what they saw on film of Millikan, Barbee said his team knew it would be a big night running the ball. The Jackrabbits piled up 350 rushing yards while holding Millikan to 17 yards on the ground. Senior Malachi Rice was in a starring role, with 16 carries for 169 yards and four touchdowns.
“We just took what they gave us, I’m proud of the way we executed,” said Barbee.
The Jackrabbits started Mehki Jordan under center and the senior signal-caller helped lead an efficient Poly attack, as he was 11/14 for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Poly’s running backs and offensive line were excited about the gameplan.
“I was excited for the week,” said Rice. “Our offensive line was in the second level all game so that made it easy for me.”
Poly spread the ball around offensively as Rice had just 16 of the team’s 44 rush attempts, with Jordan gaining 53 yards, Donovan Turner gaining 51 (and scoring a touchdown), and Zakar Carter gaining 45. Kyren Rachel scored Poly’s receiving touchdown on a bizarre play that saw him scoop his own fumble and take it to the end zone.
For Millikan, it was a frustrating night of missed opportunities.
“I don’t care what their record is, Poly is Poly, they’re always going to be a great team,” said Millikan coach Romeo Pellum. “We got to the end zone three times and scored three points. We fumbled the ball away. You can’t do things like that against them and expect to win.”
The Poly defense held the Rams in check much of the game, extending Millikan drives with penalties. Khilyn Neal had three sacks for the Jackrabbits, and Amajay Gravelly had an interception. Qeanu Campbell-Caldwell looked good, but was too often on the run or under pressure as he went 16/31 127 yards with an interception. Nathan Martinez had seven catches for 63 yards. Joshua Robinson-Little was the bright spot for the Rams on defense with 13 tackles.
Poly (2-3, 1-0) will travel to Wilson next week while Millikan (2-4, 1-1) will visit Lakewood.