The Long Beach Poly team looked sharp on Friday during an easy Senior Night win over Compton, 42-0.
The Jackrabbits (5-3, 3-0) have now won four games in a row and have just two games remaining (at Jordan and Lakewood) before the start of the playoffs. If Poly continues to improve the way they did this week, there’s plenty of reasons for the team to be optimistic about their playoff chances, likely in Division 3 under the new CIF-SS playoff format. The Jackrabbits were dominant offensively, defensively, and on special teams with just 35 yards in penalties.
“You know, (veteran Poly coach) Merle Cole told me when I first got here, it’s not who we play, it’s how we play,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “It’s something we say every day. We’ve talked a lot this year about the standard of Poly football and playing to that standard. Our team is working every day, our scout team is working every day, and we’ve got great buy-in within the program right now.”
The Jackrabbits came out hot, and led 14-0 just two minutes into the game. A big 42-yard pass from Shea Kuykendall to Tyson Bordeaux set Poly up in the red zone on their opening drive, and sophomore Jason Robinson juked out four Compton defenders on his way into the end zone on a 14-yard touchdown catch. After that, kicker Dylan Michel dropped the ball into a dead spot in the Compton return formation and star defensive back Daylen Austin sprinted down and fell on the ball to give it back to Poly. A Kuykendall to Nick Kelly connection put Poly on the goal line and Devin Samples punched it in.
Compton’s next drive ended in an interception by Poly’s Timmy Tuiagamoa, and then the Jackrabbits got a 26-yard touchdown on a highlight catch by Bordeaux. After Poly’s defense held Compton on their next drive, Austin returned the punt for a score making it 28-0 still in the first quarter.
“As a DB this is a game where we’re really just filling in the run game because they don’t pass,” said Austin. “I wanted to make an impact on special teams–I made one move and saw open field, I knew I had to score it.”
Poly added scores on a connection between Kuykendall and Marcell Lineberger in the second, and a short touchdown run by Jeremiah Fort in the third quarter.
The clock ran in the second half, and Barbee stuck to his philosophy in putting backups in for the second half. When Compton started moving the ball, he left the young players in–they figured it out and held Compton scoreless. They also played a lot of players on offense, giving workhorse defensive lineman Fort a chance to score as a running back, and other scout players like Omar Stokely a chance to get in and play. The reaction from the Poly sideline showed a healthy program, with starters cheering wildly for the scout team players to get playing time and make plays.
“I believe that it takes the whole team,” said Barbee. “I believe it’s our starters’ job to get the second team in, and it’s our second team guys’ responsibility to score and stop the other team too. From an experience standpoint it’s great for the younger guys. It was great to see the coaching staff coaching passionately, to see the starters cheering for them. They made some plays tonight, they had a goal line stand against Wilson–those are sophomores getting valuable experience. And that’s Poly brotherhood to see that excitement on the sideline, being happy for those guys to get their moment.”
The Jackrabbits certainly still have work to do, but they’ve progressed nicely, especially on offense. Kuykendall was 8/10 for 162 yards and three scores, hitting three different receivers for a score. The Jackrabbits have featured essentially a totally new slate of pass-catchers this year, and the development of their rapport with Kuykendall has been obvious the last three weeks.
“We’re never satisfied, but we’ve got good timing and we’re going to keep it rolling,” said Kuykendall. He also had a new target with the addition of Kelly this year, a Los Al transfer who had a 15-yard run and four catches for 73 yards.
“He adds a whole new threat and a whole new weapon, he’s so fast,” said Kuykendall.
Poly’s defense held Compton to 123 yards, as their front eight totally shut down the Compton rushing attack in the first half. Deon Johnson would end up piling up 23 carries for 111 yards as a real bright spot for Compton.
“He ran great but we’re still down another back and we’ve got to shake it off and come with a renewed focus to practice,” said Compton coach Calvin Bryant. Compton faces Lakewood next week in a game they have to win to remain in playoff contention. “We’ve got to get everyone healthy and then get everyone on the football field.”
Poly will travel to Jordan on Thursday next week while Compton will host Lakewood at Compton College on Friday for their Homecoming game.