Screen Shot 2022 09 01 At 4.53.27 Pm
Football Long Beach Poly

PREVIEW: Long Beach Poly vs. Mission Viejo Football

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management. 

Newly-crowned LA Chargers Coach of the Week Stephen Barbee and his Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits will have their hands full this week as they travel to Mission Viejo for a game pitting two of the state’s top ten programs against each other at 7 p.m. on Friday.

The Jackrabbits are ranked No. 9 in the CalPreps CIF Southern Section rankings while the Diablos are ranked No. 4; Friday’s game between two 2-0 programs is expected to have a big impact on the Division 1 construction for this year. A Poly win could set them up for a 10-0 season and a very strong chance at top divisional placement, while a loss would hurt their chances. 

“They’re a very talented team, they run a ton of different sets,” said Barbee. “Their coach Chad Johnson is a great offensive play-caller and they have very stout defense. We’re going to have to play a complete game, they’re top four in the state for a reason.  We have to be disciplined on offense and defense, and against that team we have to finish drives, we can’t leave points on the field and settle for three when we should have had seven.”

The Jackrabbits will travel to Leuzinger next week in a came that will be at El Camino College.

Long Beach Poly Offense vs. Mission Viejo Defense

The Jackrabbits have shown the ability to power run and to score via the air both with intermediate and deep routes, flashing a very complete offense. The only things they’ve struggled with is finishing drives, as they outgained Serra four-to-one in yardage last week, but didn’t score enough to put the Cavaliers out of the game, with an end zone interception and settling for a field goal on another drive.

Poly’s offense will be their best defense against the Diablos. Mission Viejo gave up 23 points to Servite and 21 points to Miliani in their first game of the year, but those point totals likely won’t be enough to defeat the Diablos and their high-powered offense.

The Jackrabbits will need QB Darius Curry to be sharp and for their large stable of receivers to make big plays; Jadyn Robinson had a long touchdown catch last week for the Jackrabbits in the win over Serra that jumpstarted the game for them. Running back Devin Samples was a stud on the ground behind Poly’s offensive line, led by Tyson Ruffins. Samples will need to get it going against the Diablos again as well.

Long Beach Poly Defense vs. MIssion Viejo Offense

For those who are familiar with Chad Johnson’s offense (he was the offensive coordinator for Bosco before getting the head job at Mission) there’s a ton of excitement around Friday’s game. The Jackrabbits defense has been near-perfect through two weeks, smothering Clovis and Serra and allowing just 10 total points.

The flip side of those remarkable performances–which included takeaways and big sacks–was that the offenses Poly was shutting down were woefully incomplete. Neither team was capable of passing the ball with an inexperienced QB under center. Mission will be a much better test for Poly’s defense and particularly its DBs, with cornerbacks Daylen Austin and Chase Stewart in the spotlight against a Diablos offense led by QB Kadin Semonza (Ball State commit) with three quality receivers in 6-foot-3 Arizona commit Jackson Holman, speedy Division 1-caliber Mikey Matthews, and KJ Reed.

Poly’s front seven has been outstanding the last two weeks and could take a lot of pressure off their DBs if they’re able to apply pressure to Semonza.

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.