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 Jordan Athletics is sponsored by John Ross, Class of 2013.
At a practice earlier this week, legendary Poly assistant coach Don Norford surveyed the Jackrabbits’ intense energy while competing with each other and nodded. “Like the old days,” he said.
That statement can’t be fully evaluated until the playoffs, but Norford was right–there’s a different energy at 1600 Atlantic this season. On Friday night the No. 22 nationally-ranked Jackrabbits completed their first undefeated regular season since 2008, and tied a Moore League record for fewest points allowed in a season with a 63-0 win over Jordan.
They tie a 49-year old record set by the 1973 Millikan team, which gave up just six points in league as well.
“It’s a testament to our coaches and players, to their buy-in,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee of his team’s record-setting fifth-straight league shutout. “The coaches on the gameplans, their ability to teach those plans to the students, and them being able to go execute it. We play different schemes weekly and they adapt and are still scoring seven, eight times a week and holding our opponents to zero. It speaks volumes to the drive they have.”
Poly held Jordan to under 30 yards of total offense, and the defense took it away three times, as All-American defensive back Daylen Austin had two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and linebacker Dylan Williams had a fumble recovery after a strip sack by Phoenix Tusa.
“All our hard work has paid off,” said Austin. “It feels great being able to shut all these teams out, we work really hard in practice to keep our intensity up.”
The Jackrabbits’ defense set the tone early. After Tusa’s sack and Williams’ recovery, Poly quickly scored as QB Darius Curry found Luke Buggs. On the next drive, Williams tipped a pass attempt and Austin snagged it, quickly running it back for a touchdown to make it 14-0 less than two minutes into the game.
Poly had a sack the next defensive possession, and Curry found Jadyn Robinson for a score after that. On the ensuing drive it was Austin’s second INT that got the ball back, allowing Curry to find Charles Clinton for the score. Another sack by Joshua Cason later, Poly got the ball back, and saw Devin Samples score from 35 yards out in his return from injury.
Poly scored on a screen pass from Curry to Karon Green that made it 42-0 at halftime, with the clock already running for half the second quarter.
The Jackrabbits continued to dominate defensively in the second half while scoring on passes from Curry to Clinton and Kamaury Smith, as well as a run from Colin Powell. The defense limited star running back Jordan Washington to 21 yards on seven carries.
“We’ve been holding each other accountable and playing as a team,” said Williams. “We know these league games aren’t the best competition but we practice hard and make sure we’re playing together.”
The Jackrabbits certainly did that through the Moore League season. All six of their games were played with a running clock, including two where it ran in the second quarter, and three where it ran in the third. The only points they gave up were to Lakewood with the backups in on defense, a 42-0 lead and 4:30 left in the game.
The Poly defense gave up just 394 yards in league, while forcing 10 turnovers, scoring three touchdowns themselves, intercepting it six times, and sacking the quarterback 21 times.
Both teams’ attention now turns to the playoffs. Poly (10-0, 6-0) is currently looking like the No. 5 team in the CIF-SS. The size of the Division 1 field will determine their opponent–if it’s a 12-team bracket as has been rumored, they’d host Chaminade next week. If it’s an eight team bracket like last year, they’d play a “road” game at Los Alamitos.
“We’ll enjoy the night, all that is speculation, all that matters to me is we’re ready to play whoever we need to play,” said Barbee.
Jordan (6-4, 2-4) will not qualify as an automatic bid from the league but can apply as an at-large, and stand a strong chance to be included thanks to their better-than-.500 record.