This week, The562’s coverage is sponsored by Long Beach Gives. Visit LongBeachGives.org to find your cause! Donations will be accepted through Sept. 22.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.
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.
The562’s coverage of Lakewood Athletics is sponsored by J.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.
The Moore League opens tonight as Long Beach Poly (4-0) hosts just its second home game of the year at Veterans Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. against Lakewood (1-3).
The Jackrabbits haven’t lost a Moore League game on the field since 2009 and if they run through the league table again this year it would be their first undefeated regular season since 2008. Poly isn’t worried about any of that coming into this game, however. They just want to be sharper than in last week’s win over Leuzinger.
“We felt we left a lot on the field last week,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “We looked at how we prepared and wanted to be more focused. We’re done with nonleague and our first goal is to win a league championship, so we’ve been very focused on that. Every team is going to give us their best shot and we’ve got to combat that with high-energy practices on a championship level.”
Receiver Jason Robinson said that this week was one of the best weeks of practice the Jackrabbits have had all season.
“We had a great week, the energy was up compared to last week, we’re ready to go in there and sweep Moore League, that’s all we’re focused on right now,” he said. Robinson also said that the team got together to talk about practicing better, it wasn’t something the coaches had to emphasize.
“We got together and collectively were like we need to get this down,” he said. “We should have won by more last week, we all agreed we were BSing. So this week has been about putting it together and getting the energy right.”
Long Beach Poly Offense vs Lakewood Defense
So far nobody’s been able to do much to slow down the Poly offense, which is averaging 25.5 points per game while playing a tough nonleague schedule. The Jackrabbits’ balance allows them to power run with Devin Samples (106 yards per game) or pass it with QB Darius Curry sitting at a 70% completion rate while spreading the ball around to a very deep receiving corps. Robinson is averaging 100 yards per game and said the connection between he and Curry is strong.
“We’ve been tight for a minute, if I’ve got a matchup I just look at him and tell him to throw me the ball, and he’s gonna throw it, and I’m gonna go get it for him,” he said.
The Lakewood defense features an active defensive line and Lancers coach Justin Utupo will focus a lot of his team’s effort on trying to generate pressure on Curry. Key for Poly will be blocking Rahkeen Moore and Tyree McCowen, who combine to average 22 tackles per game. In the secondary, Jace Casillas and the rest of the crew will try to contain Poly’s receiving corps.
Lakewood Offense vs Poly Defense
The Lancers have struggled offensively and will be playing their best defense of the year by far tonight. Lakewood scored 16 points in their only win of the year but have scored 13, 7, and 8 points in their other three games. Their biggest key will be protecting QB Brayden Downen and trying to give him time before Poly’s front seven can get to him. Dom Lolesio (Arizona commit) and Phoenix Tusa have combined for nine sacks in Poly’s last two games.
Running back Kaleb Foster has been Lakewood’s best option, a hard runner who will have a good chance to stand up to Poly’s physicality. Lakewood has also mixed in a ton of screens to both its backs and receivers, which could disrupt Poly’s timing.
Poly will have its bye next week while Lakewood will travel to Cabrillo.