Football Long Beach Poly

Girls’ Flag Football Preview: Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly is sponsored by Bryson Financial.     

The Jackrabbits got a head start on the flag football phenomenon, as they had a sponsored club team last year, coached by longtime boys’ athletic director Rob Shock and football coach Stephen Barbee. Shock is leading the Jackrabbits again this year, with Barbee helping as his defensive coordinator.

Poly made it to the SoCal club championship last year where they lost in the game’s final minutes to Serra, a team that Poly easily defeated this year in Oregon at the Nike NFL Kickoff Classic. But this year’s Jackrabbits team features a ton of new players as well as a bevvy of new rules to learn.

“Everything about this year is different this year,” said Shock. “We had a great opportunity to get started with the Chargers and Rams last year. This year the dimensions are different on the field, twice as big, there’s a different number of players on the field, all of that has been new.”

Poly has soccer standout Aaya McLyn at quarterback, with a ton of weapons outside including Janelle Morris, Tiare Ho-Ching, Dylan Shock, Kalianna Soth, Elle Denison, and others. Sydney Santos has played some running back, a position that’s seeing more action this year than last year because of the expanded field dimensions.

Defensively, Tirisa Noun, Kiele Ho-Ching, Leah Salas, and Neela Bagley have been stalwarts.

“The excitement is there, the sport is growing, it’s rejuvenating,” said Shock. “I’m enjoying it–it feels very old school, very fun. It’s just a love of something new, and some of these girls have huge talent, they’ve been watching football and wanting to be a big part of it. These girls are trying to make history.”

Like a lot of teams across SoCal, Poly’s debut girls’ flag football team is filled with two-sport athletes. Having elite softball and soccer players helps with getting the program off the ground.

“A lot of our girls know what it takes to play a sport at a high level and that helps out a lot,” said McLyn.

For Shock there’s been the added joy of getting to coach his daughter, Dylan, who’s a senior.

“It’s very special for me, she grew up around the Poly football team, she was on the sideline with me in a Baby Bjorn, she’s seen all these NFL dudes and now she gets to play football for Poly,” he said. “The campus has embraced these girls, everyone is rooting for them.”

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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.