Long Beach Poly went into the season believing that their offensive line was the best unit on the team, with confidence they’d be able to run the ball and assert themselves whenever they wanted to. The rushing attack and pass protection was uneven against powerhouse opponents like Punahou and Serra, but by and large the Jackrabbits have been able to hang their hat on their o-line.
Poly put up 350 yards on 10+ yards per carry against Millikan last week, and rushed for 200+ yards against Corona Centennial.
The anchor of Poly’s line is James “Chubba” Maae, a 6’1” 333-pound force of nature whose drawn scholarship offers in his senior season. Maae isn’t a one-man show, though. He’s surrounded by junior Michael Fesili (6’2” 287 pounds), junior Brandon Pati, Mase Suaava (6’, 291 pounds), Emery Watson, Justin Mataia, and others. Freshmen Tueni Melalipi and Ikenasio Mikaele have impressed as well. Tight end Khilyn Neal is one of the wild cards for Poly as a capable blocker and pass catcher.
The group dominated against Millikan last week in their first game against a non-Division ½ team, and Poly’s ability to move the ball and score will largely depend on how their offensive line handles the pressure from Wilson.
The experience on the Wilson defense line was one of the top concerns going into the season, but this group of first-year starts has been solid for the Bruins.
Junior Alama Collins has been the anchor for this group at nose tackle. The 6’2” 280-pound junior is averaging over four tackles per game after he collected nine, and three for loss, last week at Cabrillo. Collins also has a pair of sacks.
One of the biggest question marks of the game is whether or not Poly decides to double team Collins.
On the outside defensive end Cole Henderson has been getting into the backfield more effectively the longer the season goes. The sophomore has 20 tackles and three sacks. Senior Jorge Jimenez, Odell Fua, Monette and Ferrera also play on the line, and will need to rotate and stay fresh against the big Poly line.