Football Long Beach Poly

Long Beach Poly Flag Football Beats Serra at Nike’s NFL Kickoff Classic

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The Long Beach Poly girls’ flag football team started the season off right, traveling to Oregon to the Nike headquarters to compete in the NFL Kickoff Classic. The Jackrabbits had a team last year, but this year the sport is officially sanctioned by the CIF State and CIF-SS. They began the official era with a bang, defeating rival Serra with a running clock, 31-6.

“This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for these girls, for it to be the first season as a sanctioned sport and to get to come up here and represent California with Serra,” said Poly coach Rob Shock. “I told the girls, just take it all in. They’ve been working really hard.”

The game carried some extra emotional weight for the Jackrabbit family. Poly football legend Herman Ho-Ching recently passed away, a wound that is still fresh to fans of the school’s sports program, but especially to the Ho-Ching family. His two nieces, Tiare and Kiele, are both standout softball players at Poly (Tiare is committed to Arizona State) and both decided to join the flag football team this year to carry on their family legacy.


Competing in Oregon, where their uncle played college football for the Ducks, the Ho-Ching sisters wore Herman’s numbers at Poly and UO, donning 18 and 28. The pair of them put on a show, combining for two touchdown catches and six flag-pulls on defense.

“It’s a little bit more special for it to happen in Oregon, too, wearing his numbers and balling out like he did,” said Tiare after the game. “His sons were here to watch us play and I was tearing up on the field seeing them.”

“It feels like something sent from God to be able to be here and represent him and what he’s all about it,” said Kiele.

Poly QB Aaya McLyn is carrying on a family legacy of her own. The soccer standout has two older sisters, Aaqila and Aasha, who went from Poly to the PAC-12 in soccer. Aaya is looking to make a mark not only in soccer but as the starting QB for the flag football team. She threw four touchdowns and ran in another one in the win over Serra.

“I don’t even have any words,” said McLyn. “It was just amazing. And it wasn’t just me it was the whole team that put in all the effort, we left everything on the field today. We played with heart.”

McLyn said she’s proud to be the third McLyn sister balling out at Poly.

“Being a McLyn is a real legacy,” she said. “I follow not only in my sisters but also my mom and dad’s steps. I look up to them more than anyone, and I really appreciate representing my family at Poly.”

The game started off a little rough for Poly, as McLyn threw an interception on the Jackrabbits’ first drive. But her coaches told her to shake off as she came to the sideline and she did just that, as Poly would score touchdowns on their next five drives. McLyn hit Janelle Morris for a long completion on the next drive then ran in a score herself. The following two drives she found Tiare Ho-Ching, making it 19-0 at halftime.

In the second half McLyn threw a TD to freshman Kalianna Soth, and on Poly’s final possession McLyn threw a touchdown to Morris, who caught it over a defender’s head. In all Poly scored touchdowns on five of their seven possessions.

Defensively, Kiele Ho-Ching and Leah Salas both had great flag-pulls at the line of scrimmage, and Malawna Green had a diving pass breakup on fourth down to turn the ball over to Poly. The Jackrabbits only gave up one score, which came as they led 25-0 in the second half on a long QB run by the Cavaliers.

Shock said it was a special day for the Poly community, and that he was especially honored that they were able to pay tribute to Herman Ho-Ching.

“I was a part of the coaching staff at Poly when Herman played, seeing him do the things he did was amazing,” said Shock. “I’m thankful that the girls are playing with us and able to be a part of this, and excelling the way that they do.”

VIDEO: Long Beach Poly vs Serra Flag Football
PHOTOS: Long Beach Poly vs Serra Flag Football
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.