With Long Beach high school football teams setting their schedules for the modified 2020-21 season, we’re taking a weekly look at what the new slate of games will look like.
Everything was set up nicely for the Long Beach Poly football team headed into the 2020 season. The Jackrabbits have their strongest young talent base in several years and overtook Bakersfield High last season for most wins in California state history. Poly finished the season as one of the top 15 teams in Southern California, and had a nice slate of games set up for 2020, including an out-of-state trip.
The first points are still true, but that schedule was wiped completely off the map by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Jackrabbits found themselves in the same boat as everyone else a few weeks ago: struggling to put together a brand new football schedule on the fly after the CIF Southern Section announced that the football year would start in January.
Poly coach Stephen Barbee was able to assemble a tough schedule that includes some recent rivalry games. They’ll open on the road against Westlake, then host Mission Viejo in a game that will likely be the headliner in SoCal that week; along with a road game at Corona Centennial, it will likely be the case that Poly sees the other two top public schools in its schedule.
“The two top public schools in Division one last year in our preseason is great for us, it’ll show us real early where we’re at,” said Barbee.
Poly will also host Serra, a matchup that has produced several exciting one-score games over the last decade.
“All our kids know each other, it’s a backyard neighborhood type of game for us,” said Barbee. “That game never disappoints.”
He also said his team is looking forward to a Moore League schedule that will look a lot different this year, with games happening in February and March, and Lakewood using Wilson as its home field while the Lancers’ stadium is under construction.
“Each game and rivalry has its own things that go along with it,” he said. “We were able to have WIlson as our homecoming game this year which I think the city will be excited about.”
He also praised the job that the CIF-SS and the LBUSD have done working to put together a schedule that’s possible, as well as allowing the Jackrabbits and other Long Beach teams to condition together so that the kids had some structure in their days this Summer.
“Everyone’s doing everything they can, and we appreciate it,” he said. “The kids want to go back to school–you’ve got four people at one table trying to work in some of their apartments and houses, it’s really hard for them. And school is a big part of who they are.”
Barbee said Poly worked out together through the Summer, and is now on a three-week pause from conditioning to allow the kids time to focus on learning Canvas and getting used to online learning before they start back up.
“We’re preaching ‘student-athlete’ so we want to make sure they know how to long on and turn in assignments,” he said. “Half my kids needed a Canvas orientation like we as teachers got.”
Long Beach Poly 2020-21 Football Schedule
1/8 @ Westlake
1/15 vs. Mission Viejo
1/22 vs. Serra
1/29 @ Corona Centennial
2/5 vs. Millikan
2/12 vs. Wilson (Homecoming)
2/19 @ Cabrillo
2/26 vs. Compton
3/5 @ Jordan
3/12 vs. Lakewood (@ Wilson)