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Football Long Beach Poly

PREVIEW: Long Beach Poly at Serra Football

The562’s coverage of football in 2023-24 is sponsored in part by the MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center Foundation and Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Foundation

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

One of Southern California’s best rivalries over the last decade will renew itself Friday night at 7pm as Long Beach Poly travels to face Serra.

The two teams have played seven times in the last six years with Serra going 5-2 against the Jackrabbits, including a two-game sweep of them in 2021 in the regular season as well as the state playoffs that left a sour taste in many Poly fans’ mouths. While the Cavaliers have come up the winners more often than not in their recent rivalry, the games have almost all been nailbiters, with six of them decided by four points or fewer.

Serra has outscored Poly 153-147 in the seven meetings. That high level of competitiveness between the two powerhouses is part of why the game has carried so much excitement–it was just selected the Rams Games of the Week.

“It’s the game I always look forward to the most,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “I respect the Hell out of them and their work ethic. We always seem to have very similar teams and athletes all over the field, and it’s just a great game. There’s mutual respect for each other, and it’s the type of game you always want to have on your schedule.”

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Last year Poly was able to stifle Serra in a 17-3 win that was as lopsided as any the two teams have played. This year the challenge will once again be on the Jackrabbits’ defense to shut down stud Serra RB Cincere Rhaney. That may be a tall order for a Poly defense that’s struggled to stop the run the last two weeks, against Bishop Gorman and Mission Viejo. 

That defense is close to full strength with the clearances of several key players, although they’ll be without the services of Jeb Tuupo, who was injured in last week’s win over MV. Two other Poly players, Mike Salinas and Donte Wright Jr, both had hospital visits after injuries on the field in that game, but Barbee said both are recovering well and on their way to playing again.

If Poly can stop Rhaney, they get into their defense’s comfort zone–defending the pass. Poly’s DBs have been lights out in two of their three games, putting on a great performance last week against Mission Viejo.

Offensively, Barbee is certainly hoping QB Darius Curry and his crew can put up a big number and give them some breathing room.

“We’ve been talking about playing as a team and doing all the little things right,” said Curry. “We made a lot of mental mistakes so far, stuff that we can fix. So we’re trying to make sure we can execute 100% on Friday night.”

Poly Serra Through the Years

2022 17-3 Poly

2021 21-17 Serra (State)

2021 28-27 Serra

2020 27-21 (OT) Poly 

2019 27-24 Serra

2018 29-25 Serra

2017 24-20 Serra

Serra 153, Poly 147

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.