Long Beach Poly football coach Stephen Barbee has been talking for a year about how special his team’s defense this year is, and wishing for them to get a chance to prove it on the field. They proved it and then some in a dominant effort against Lakewood on Friday night, holding the Lancers to negative yardage in a 41-0 victory.
While the result wasn’t a surprise, seeing the Jackrabbits outgain one of the other top teams in the Moore League 411 yards to -18, with 26 first downs to two, was an eye-opener.
“Our whole mantra this year is it’s not who we play, it’s how we play,” said Barbee. “The defense just keeps getting better and better. We feel like we have great players all over the field.”
The Jackrabbits offense was balanced and had basically everything working, piling up 218 yards on the ground with Devin Samples (17 carries, 100 yards, 1 TD) and Jaden Bridges (12 carries, 103 yards, 1 TD) both running wild. Quarterback Shea Kuykendall spread the ball effectively going 12 for 17 for 156 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Two of the touchdowns went to New Mexico signee Keyonta Lanier, who had 73 yards receiving.
“I texted my QB before the game and said let’s get it going, get me the ball tonight and that’s what he did,” said Lanier.
Poly successfully defended against every element of the Lakewood offense, blowing up option plays in the backfield, sniffing out screens, and breaking up passes while hurrying Lancers quarterback Anthony Eyanson. Even when Poly had a rare miscue, like a muffed punt late in the first quarter, the defense came up with three tackles for a loss to put Lakewood into a 4th and 37.
“The effort was there, but Poly is really good, and it took us a while to really adjust to the speed of the game,” said Lancers coach Scott Meyer, whose team was playing in its first game after last week’s contest with St. Anthony was canceled. “Now our guys know, we have to practice harder, we have to simulate that game speed the best we can and practice. It was a whole different thing.”
Travis Perryman was a standout on defense for Lakewood, with 10 tackles including two for a loss, and Julius Jimenez had an interception.
For Poly the defense was spearheaded by Donovan Poe, who had two sacks and a tackle for a loss. Poly’s line on both sides of the ball with three sacks as well as 218 yards rushing, the second time in as many games the Jackrabbits have gone over 200 yards on the ground.
Poly (2-0, 1-0) will host Wilson next week while Lakewood (0-1, 0-1) will face Jordan.