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Football Long Beach Poly

PREVIEW: Long Beach Poly vs. Leuzinger 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. 

Long Beach Poly (3-0) faces a reverse trap game of sorts this week, fresh off their statement win over Mission Viejo last week. The Jackrabbits are now a consensus top five team in the state for the first time since 2013, and have a shot at their first undefeated nonleague schedule since 2008 as they visit Leuzinger Friday night in a game hosted at El Camino College at 7 p.m.

With Poly or any high school team, it’s natural to feel a bit of a letdown after a big win–especially when practice is being held in 90-degree temperature. Senior leader Daylen Austin said his team’s job is to not fall into the trap.

“It was a little bit of a struggle getting into it,” he said. “People think because we beat Mission we did something.”

The Jackrabbits played Leuzinger to a 35-21 victory last year, and the Olympians come into Friday’s game with an 0-2 record, deepening that trap for the Jackrabbits. Anyone looking at records and rankings could expect this to be a Poly win–but Leuzinger has several Division 1 commits and prospects and played a tough game with Edison, a top ten team in the Southern Section that they only lost to 31-22.

“They’ve got athleticism all over the field, very physical line play and they have a few special players,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “It’ll be a tough game for us, a good game–we’re both tough, physical and athletic.”

The Jackrabbits will open Moore League play next week with just their second home game of the season, welcoming Lakewood to Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Long Beach Poly O vs. Leuzinger D

The key for the Jackrabbits is protection. Poly’s offensive line has been excellent at paving the way for running back Devin Samples the last three weeks but also at protecting QB Darius Curry. With Leuzinger known for being blitz-happy in last year’s game against Poly, it will be important for Poly’s line to stay disciplined throughout the game.

The Olympians have three skill players with scholarship offers including DB/WR Jacob Lewis (committed to Northwestern) and Rashawn Carr (committed to Campbell). Still, with Poly’s talent and depth at receiver this year, Curry should be able to find targets downfield if his line is able to protect him.

Long Beach Poly D vs. Leuzinger O

The Jackrabbits defense has been outstanding the last three weeks, giving up 10 points against Clovis and Serra and then holding Mission Viejo to 30 points, while scoring a touchdown on defense and getting enough sacks to disrupt the Diablos at key points in the game.

The main anchor for those performances has been a really outstanding front, with nose tackle Phoenix Tusa and defensive end Dominic Lolesio (Arizona) playing great in front of a ferocious linebacking corps that includes USC commit Dylan Williams, Ike Mikaele, and Joshua Cason. The biggest key to the game for Poly, just like the last two weeks, will be how much pressure that group up front can generate.

It won’t be easy–Leuzinger has a Washington commit on the line in tackle Kahlee Tafai and they have another lineman with offers from Oregon and Arizona in Jordan Tonga. If they can keep Poly’s rush off their QB and give him time to look downfield, there are quality targets.

Receiver Daijon Calimon has offers from Arizona and Arizona State, among others, and has three touchdowns in the last two weeks. Lewis the Northwestern commit will also play at wideout, putting some pressure on Austin and others. Poly DB Chase Stewart was an underrated star in the team’s win over Mission–he wasn’t perfect, but he was covering Division 1-caliber talent all night and had three pass breakups, including two well-timed ones in the end zone.

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.