A young Long Beach Poly team wasn’t ready for primetime as the Jackrabbits were beaten handily by Mission Viejo in a televised game Friday night. Poly fell to 0-2 on the season with the loss, which saw them trail by just seven at halftime but fall 41-14.
“It’s very hard to win when you give them turnovers and miss tackles,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “There’s things we did better than we did last week but we’ve got to get a little more rhythm from our offense and get off the field faster on defense.”
The Jackrabbits fell behind 14-0 after giving up a 42-yard touchdown run to Kenny Manassero and then seeing quarterback Shea Kuykendall’s first pass picked off and returned for a score. Poly would answer back late in the second quarter with their best drive of the night, aided by a pair of Diablos penalties. Junior running back Devin Samples put Poly on the board with a 26-yard score that made it 14-7 Mission Viejo at halftime.
Poly was outscored 27-7 in the second half and never found a consistent offensive rhythm, as they were outgained 352 total yards to just 161.
The Diablos took a 28-7 lead on Manassero’s second and third scores, before an interception returned for a touchdown by Donovan Turner gave Poly some life. They wouldn’t find the end zone again, however, while the Diablos punched in another pair of scores to pull away.
The Jackrabbits defense showed flashes–they looked stronger up front than they did against Serra, with a sack by Phoenix Tusa, and several tackles for a loss (including three from Ike Mikaele who also had 12 total tackles). Poly is still without several starting defensive backs due to either injury or waiting for CIF-SS clearance.
Offensively, the full contingent of players is basically available, which makes the lack of production more concerning. Running backs Devin Samples and Josh “Noodles” Cason, both capable backs, combined for just 78 yards on 31 attempts. Kuykendall was benched in favor of sophomore QB Darius Curry following Kuykendall’s interception. Curry passed for 83 yards and was just a few inches off of several big connections with receivers–Poly’s chemistry and connection wasn’t there yet. Sophomore Jason Robinson had six catches for 63 yards.
Poly (0-2) will host Leuzinger on Thursday at Cabrillo High.