After a year of silence, the pomp and circumstance of Long Beach’s oldest sports rivalry was back on display at Veterans Memorial Stadium, where Long Beach Poly hosted Wilson. The Jackrabbits and Bruins have been playing since 1932, and this is their 89th meeting–it was also Poly’s 126th anniversary Homecoming game, and the crowd was sizable and energetic for the return of the Poly/Wilson tradition.
On the field, the Jackrabbits took another big step forward and proved they’re still the best in the city in a dominant 45-6 victory of the Bruins. It was by far Poly’s sharpest effort of the season, with big plays on offense, defense, and special teams.
“We scored in our passing game, we scored in our running game, we had a defensive touchdown, and we had some big special team plays,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee as his team danced with the big Poly student section after the game. “It’s awesome to see things starting to come together, but we’re not there yet.”
Poly got tough news before the game that QB Darius Curry is likely to miss the rest of the season. That leaves QB Shea Kuykendall in charge of the Jackrabbits offense full time, and he put on a show Friday, going 10/18 through the air for 213 yards and two touchdowns, with 47 yards rushing and another two scores.
“I think I’m developing better timing with our young receivers,” said Kuykendall. “Our passing game got a lot better tonight.”
Kuykendall ran in a pair of scores and also hit recent USC commit Jason Robinson for a score, as well as a 40-yard bomb to Tyson Bourdeaux. In a sign of how Poly is looking at its Moore League schedule, both Kuykendall and Barbee pointed to two other touchdown passes he missed as a slip-up that needed addressing.
“I missed a few throws, I have to get better on that,” said Kuykendall.
Poly outgained the Bruins 388-126 yards. The Bruins did have some success moving the ball as QB Xander McLaurin had 81 yards passing including a touchdown on a 48-yard pass to Josh Scott.
“You know, they’re the top of the class in the Moore League,” said Wilson coach Scott Meyer. “We gave up too many big plays–we were able to move the ball but we have to finish drives.”
Poly got a good dose of the ground game in too with 175 yards rushing including 123 yards and a touchdown from Devin Samples. The Jackrabbits also got a 40-yard field goal from Dylan Michel and an interception returned for a touchdown from senior Jalen Johnson, who diagnosed a screen play and pick-sixed it.
McLaurin toko a beating for Wilson but hung in there until an injury in the third quarter knocked him out of the game. Scott had five catches for 70 yards and a score.
The Poly defense impressed, with 11 different players recording a tackle for a loss. Sophomore Dylan Williams and senior Donovan Poe led the way with six tackles each; Poe had 2.5 sacks.
Wilson will face Jordan next week while Poly is looking for a game due to Cabrillo’s COVID-19 shutdown.