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 Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.
Long Beach Poly and Wilson have been playing football against each other longer than anyone’s been doing just about anything in this city. When the two first met, they were the only two LBUSD high schools in existence, and Friday night’s meeting between the Jackrabbits and Bruins was their 90th time playing each other. The result was a Poly win, as they’ve done each year since 1991, with the Jackrabbits prevailing in a lopsided 70-0 victory.
“We were able to execute in all three facets of the game, and it was really good to see our first, second, and third team all have the same consistency on the field,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee.
The Jackrabbits were without their top couple of running back options due to injury, and worked on the passing game instead. Spending most of the first quarter in an empty-backfield five receiver set, QB Darius Curry carved up the Bruins secondary as he went 12/14 for 285 yards and five touchdowns in the first half.
“I was really happy about his selection,” said Barbee. “We talked about making the ordinary extraordinary, just moving the chains–and we turned routes in the flats and hitches into touchdowns.”
Curry hit Luke Buggs on his first pass for a score, then found Jason Robinson for a second TD a few minutes later. The Jackrabbits were pinned deep in their own end on their third possession, but saw Curry hit Jordan Malau’ulu for a 95-yard touchdown. Colin Powell ran in the next score, then Curry threw a 60-yard score to Charles Clinton, and a five-yard score to linebacker Ike Mikaele (who also had a long return on a blocked punt) to make it 42-0 at halftime.
“It was exciting knowing we’d be throwing the ball a lot with our running backs down,” said Curry. “I was able to connect with everybody and get everyone their own little sauce.”
In the second half, Poly kept it on the ground as Karon Green ran in a pair of scores, Jases Jones got one, and Omark Stokley did too.
Poly outgained Wilson 533 yards to 32 yards. Wilson got a defensive highlight on a recovered fumble from Jalen Nelson, a talented sophomore who also led them in tackles. Running back Christian Chapman gained 30 yards and deserved high praise for the job he did continuing to work hard even as he was being tackled by multiple defenders on most plays.
The game was played in front of a sellout crowd of more than 2,500 fans, including large and energized student sections from both schools.
“It’s fun playing in front of a crowd like that, it gets everyone energized,” said Mikaele.
Barbee said that he had a great time seeing the energy in the stadium with both cheering sections going wild.
“I love this rivalry and I love this game,” he said. “It’s special to have a home campus stadium that’s packed on both sides, and the energy is just unparalleled. Our band was loud, their band was loud, both sides just going back and forth.”
Poly will host Cabrillo for homecoming next week while Wilson will travel to Jordan.