When Long Beach Poly football coach Stephen Barbee put together his team’s challenging nonleague schedule (with two games against top ten teams in the state, and another against a top 30 team), he did so hoping to find out a lot about his young team. At the end of that nonleague schedule, the Jackrabbits have a clear picture—they’re a talented, young team that still has major flaws and isn’t ready for primetime yet.
Those flaws were exposed in a major way in a 52-7 defeat at Corona Centennial on Friday.
“Consistency is key, and when you’re playing one of the state’s best teams, there’s no room for error,” said Barbee. We played three very tough teams in our preseason, and it’s an eye opener on where we’re at. We’ve got to learn and grow from this.”
Poly was outgained 440 yards to 181, and were soundly beaten in all three phases of the game. Defensively, the team gave up a touchdown on every drive that the Huskies’ starters were on the field. Offensively, they never got into a rhythm and managed just one touchdown, on their first drive of the game. Special teams saw Poly give up a backbreaking kickoff return for a touchdown.
The Jackrabbits had a good showing in the first quarter. The Huskies’ offensive execution was showcased on their opening drive, with a nine-play 69 yard campaign that ended on a one-yard plunge from Jayson Cortes. The Jackrabbits answered back with a masterful drive led by Shea Kuykendall, marching 70 yards for a score as senior QB Shea Kuykendall hit Titus Bourdeaux for a 17-yard touchdown.
With Poly’s drive taking six minutes, they were set up to execute their gameplan—shorten the Huskies’ possessions with time-chewing drives. But Poly’s special teams, which have struggled with return coverage this year, gave up a 92-yard touchdown return on the ensuing kickoff to Jaden Mickey, who made it 14-7 Huskies just a few seconds after Poly had scored.
The Jackrabbits offense executed better than it had in the last three weeks, but that was all they were able to muster in the first half as the Huskies took it to Poly’s defense, scoring another four touchdowns. Down 28-7 with 52 seconds left in the first half, Poly went three and out and then saw the Huskies score in 24 seconds to take a 35-7 lead into halftime.
The Huskies poured it on the in the second half with another pair of touchdowns and a field goal.
Poly got another good game from Kuykendall who was 10/16 for 107 yards and a score, while Darius Curry was 10/15 for 22 yards and an interception. Devin Samples was limited to just six carries for 11 yards in the game. There was one bright spot for the Jackrabbits in the Robinson brothers, sophomore Jason and freshman Jadyn who combined for 10 catches for 71 yards.
The Jackrabbits now turn to the Moore League, where they’ll open up against top league foe Millikan this Friday at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Poly will need to find some things they can do well consistently during the league schedule, with an eye on a playoff spot that could see them in a lower division.
Those championship aspirations have got to get a lot smaller for the time being, though. Poly put together a schedule to show them who they are, and on Friday they found out they’re a team with a lot of work to do.