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 Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.
The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
The Long Beach Poly football team wanted to leave no doubt in their game on the road against Millikan on Friday night. The Jackrabbits hadn’t lost a league game on the field since 2009, when they lost to the Rams at DeHaven Stadium in double overtime. Poly beat the Rams by 14 last year, their closest league contest in years–their goal this year was to win emphatically, and they did just that in a 42-0 shutout.
“We played well, we made some mistakes with untimely penalties but overall it was great to see us make plays all over the field tonight,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee.
A good chunk of those plays were runs, as the Poly offensive line led by Tyson Ruffins paved the way for 335 rushing yards on a 12 yards per carry average. Sophomore Xavier Jones had a sensational debut in his first major work at tailback, showing off his speed with two long touchdowns as he had 15 carries for 169 yards and two scores, putting Poly up 14-0 early. All six of the Jackrabbits’ touchdowns were on the ground, with two apiece for Jones and QB Darius Curry, who scored in the second and third quarters to make it 28-0. The Jackrabbits got an interception and then a touchdown on the ground from linebacker/running back Joshua “Noodles” Cason and then late in the game backup QB Valentino Saenz-Castruita polished the game off.
Barbee credited his offensive line.
“They’ve been consistent the whole season, it’s great to see, that unit’s really gelled together well,” he said. “Whoever was running the ball, we’re getting big positive yardage.”
He said he wasn’t surprised that Jones had a breakout game, leveraging his game-breaking speed for big chunks of yardage. Poly back Devin Samples was injured against Lakewood and was unable to play Friday, opening the door for Jones’ big night.
“We’ve been seeing it in practice, to be very honest,” said Barbee. “It was only a matter of time before he was able to get his shot, which is huge.”
Millikan’s offense was shorthanded, with quarterback Myles Jackson sidelined due to injury, as well as their starting running back and a top receiver also being out. Top recruit Jordan Anderson normally plays WR for the Rams but tried his hand at quarterback. Anderson played valiantly, but the Poly defense was ready for every Millikan strategy, holding the Rams to 50 yards of total offense.
“We shut them out, that was the goal, we had to adjust to the quarterback being more of a running quarterback and we did,” said defensive back and LSU commit Daylen Austin. By virtue of the shutout, Poly got their first “Shutout Saturday” of the year, meaning they don’t have to be on campus for early morning film study. Austin said the varsity starters were staying on top of the reserves to not relax and give up a score the way they did late in Poly’s win over Lakewood.
“The first team’s job is to get those guys on the field, and then the whole team has to earn the shutout,” said Barbee. “They all know I’m not going to take the backups out and put the first team back in. It was great to see everybody contribute all over the field tonight.”
Anderson had 35 total yards to lead the Rams.
The game was a sellout, and was a great atmosphere.
“All the eyes, all the cheering, having their side cheer for Poly at the end, I love all of that,” said Cason.
“Their student section was tight even when they were losing, I like having a loud crowd like that out here under the lights,” said Austin.
Poly (6-0, 2-0) will travel to Wilson next week while Millikan (1-6, 1-2) will travel to Lakewood.