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Football Lakewood Long Beach Poly

PREVIEW: Long Beach Poly at Lakewood, Football

This week, all of The562’s coverage is sponsored by Long Beach Gives. Visit to find your cause and support local nonprofits! Donations will be accepted through Sept. 21.

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

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.

Moore League play opens this week, and Lakewood will host Long Beach Poly at John Ford Stadium Friday night at 7 p.m. as two teams on very different tracks take the field against each other.

The Jackrabbits (3-1) had proven success in the nonleague schedule, and are looking to continue that through the league slate. 

“It’s great to get to play our local teams, their coaches are doing an incredible job,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “Justin has done a great job at the helm of Lakewood, they got to their CIF championship last year, and they’re one of the top teams in the Moore League this year.”

Oddly, because of COVID-19 and field construction, this will be Poly’s first trip to Ford Stadium in five years, the site of many memorable clashes between the two teams over the last 50 years.

For Poly, Darius Curry has proven to be just as capable as he was last year as a junior at the quarterback position, and has a growing group of weapons at wideout with Kamarie Smith, Jordan Malau’ulu, Ezekiel Orozco, Caden Butler, and Luke Buggs have all caught recent touchdowns. The biggest question for Poly is can their offensive line protect Curry, and can their defensive line and front seven contain a Lakewood power rushing attack?

Lakewood (1-3) has been looking for its identity, a similar journey to where they were at this time last year, before finding themselves in league play and making a historic run to the title game.

“We’re excited to start Moore League play,” said head coach Justin Utupo. “We learned during the nonleague that we can line up and compete with any team. Our biggest challenge is not beating ourselves–players and coaches.’

The Lancers have 45 penalties in four games, something Utupo is hoping to see cleaned up. They’ll need a big night from receiver JT DaCoud, who leads the Lancers with four total touchdowns. Defensively, the star has been linebacker Tyree McCowen, who is averaging 15 tackles per game and is one of the statistical leaders in the state, according to MaxPreps.

We’ll have live coverage during the game and full coverage after.

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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.