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Cabrillo Football Long Beach Poly

PREVIEW: Long Beach Poly vs Cabrillo 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.

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 Cabrillo Athletics is sponsored by the Cohn Family.

The oldest sports tradition in Long Beach will take place at Veterans Memorial Stadium this Friday evening at 7 p.m. as Long Beach Poly hosts Cabrillo in the Jackrabbits’ 127th anniversary Homecoming celebration. It’s the first time the two schools will have played since 2019, with Cabrillo unable to field a team in 2020 and unable to play last year due to COVID-19 positive tests.

It’s an interesting matchup, pitting undefeated Long Beach Poly against a Jaguars team that was hovering on the brink of shutting down a few years ago when it was unable to field a team during the COVID-19 season. Poly is the No. 4 team in the state and No. 25 team in the nation according to MaxPreps; Cabrillo is ranked No. 311 in the CalPreps CIF-SS rankings. The Jaguars lost 57-7 to a Wilson team that Poly just beat 70-0.

Both coaches are aware of the talent and depth discrepancy between the teams, but Poly coach Stephen Barbee said that for the most part, his team is treating it like any other week.

“Honestly it’s business as usual,” he asid. “We haven’t really deviated from the way we’ve been preparing for the last seven weeks. They have some very skilled players on their team and they do some really good things. Coach has done a great job getting the most out of his players and they’re going to come to play. We’re excited to get out there and play in front of our home crowd for Homecoming.”

It’s just Poly’s third home game of the year as they’ve spent most of the season on the road, and while you likely won’t see the starters beyond halftime, this week will be another valuable test of the program’s recently-improved depth as they look to replace key players. Running backs Devin Samples and Xavier Jones are still sidelined with injury, and receiver (and USC commit) Jason Robinson has joined Raiden Brown on the injury list as well, putting Poly down their top two pass-catching options with the playoffs just three weeks away.

With Poly at the midway point of the Moore League season, they’ve given up just six points in league this year while scoring 148; six points allowed would be tied for the lowest point total given up in league history, adding another historic wrinkle. 

Expect to see Poly run the ball and try to pitch another shutout on defense as the Jackrabbits look ahead to closing the league schedule out with games at Compton and at home against Jordan in the next two weeks. If Poly stays in the Division 1 field for the CIF-SS playoffs (which at this point looks like an inevitability) they’ll likely get a week off before their first playoff game, giving them another week to get everyone healthy.

The game is also a significant one for Cabrillo and a Jaguars program that is back on the rise after being unable to play two years ago. The Jaguars won four nonleague games to start the season for the first time ever, before having to forfeit them due to using an ineligible player. While they won’t be favored in any of their Moore League games, being able to suit up and play against Poly for the first time in three years in another big step back for the Cabrillo program. It’s fitting that it will be Homecoming, as it will be a Homecoming for Rodney Van, a former Jackrabbit star who has been a standout assistant coach for the Jags under head coach Shane Gonzales.

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.