Football Long Beach Poly Wilson

Scouting Report: Long Beach Poly Running Backs vs. Wilson Linebackers

Last year, Long Beach Poly’s offense struggled early in the season before finding its footing behind a strong rushing attack led by an experienced offensive line and a breakout rushing star in Elijah Juarez. This year, you could write virtually the exact same sentence except replace Juarez’s name with Malachi Rice.

The senior running back is a transfer from Downey, and has been a breakout star coming out of the backfield. In the game against Los Al, he dragged three defenders into the end zone on one touchdown, then hit one cut and ran by another three on another long play. Rice, 5’10” 195 pounds, has elite strength out of the backfield and better-than-average speed, making him a very complete high school back.

Millikan found that out last week as Rice powered his way to 16 carries for 166 yards and four touchdowns, running with the motto that he wouldn’t let one defender bring him down.

In Poly’s run-first offense, Rice isn’t the only weapon. Starting quarterback Mehki Jordan put up 53 yards himself against Millikan, and the Jackrabbits have a stable of skilled runners behind Rice. Sophomore Donovan Turner is a promising young runner, as is junior Michael Sanford, both of whom have gotten carries this year.

“We’ve always been a slanting and blitzing team, and we’re gonna stick to that to try to create some blocking issues with misdirection,” is what Ziegenhagen has said before almost every big game for the Wilson defense. It’s what they do, and this year they’re doing it very well while giving up only 12 points per game. And keep in mind, two of the 11 touchdowns came on special teams.

The Wilson linebacking corps is stacked with experienced talent in seniors Ethan Moxley, Brett Dowgiewicz and Logan Ziegenhagen. They’ve all been 100 tackle players before this season, and have fewer tackles this year because more teams are attacking the Bruins secondary. However, they’ll need to get pressure in the backfield without abandoning their gaps because a few big run plays from the Poly backs could really change the momentum of this game.