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Football: Long Beach Poly Looks Sharp in Senior Night Win Over Compton

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.

The Long Beach Poly football team has been rolling along in the Moore League schedule, racking up wins as per usual. But there’s been frustration on the Jackrabbits’ sideline with less-than-crisp efforts, including games with costly penalties, uncharacteristic turnovers, or trouble stopping the run from lower-ranked opponents.

On a special Senior Night that saw them recognize 37 graduating seniors, the Jackrabbits played their crispest game of the league schedule, dominating Compton in a 50-6 victory.

“I think we executed really well tonight,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “We were able to throw in some different sets we’re working on. Darius was lights out.”

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Poly senior QB Darius Curry threw a perfect game, going 8/8 for 153 yards and five touchdowns. Curry didn’t play in the second half and the clock ran starting after the first quarter. Nonetheless he threw touchdowns to four different receivers in a perfect performance.

“It was a great win, it’s one of our first games where we all played together and played 100%,” he said. 

About the only blemish on the night for the Jackrabbits was a fourth-quarter touchdown scored by Compton, after a 15-minute drive (due to the clock running). Poly’s backups were in, but it was notable that the starters were frustrated with the score–not just because it blew the shutout, but because it’s representative of their earlier focus issues.

“It’s frustrating, yeah,” said Curry. “We get on them in practice about it, if you’re playing around in practice then you see what happens in a game. So the seniors need to get on those guys more to keep them focused, we need everyone practicing like they’d play in a game.”

The game itself went great for Poly. The Jackrabbits scored on all of their drives. First, Curry hit Luke Buggs for a 20-yard score, then after Mikey Beresford recovered a Compton fumble, Curry hit Kamarie Smith for a 26-yard touchdown. Jorden Ransom recovered a fumble on the next drive and then Curry found Jordan Malau’ulu on a 30-yard touchdown. The next Compton drive saw an interception by Poly’s Quimari Shemwell to set up a 32-yard scoring connection between Curry and Malau’ulu.

A quarter of the game down, Poly had scored four touchdowns and had three takeaways on defense; Compton had gained just 10 yards.

After a long punt return by freshman Julius “JuJu” Johnson, Poly got another score in the second quarter (with the clock running) on a pass from Curry to linebacker and Oregon commit Dylan Williams. Poly’s final score of the first half was a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown by Smith, making it 42-0 at halftime.

Compton chewed up all of the third quarter and the first three minutes of the fourth with a touchdown drive that saw freshman Nate Willard take in Compton’s lone touchdown. Willard ran hard all night and finished with 64 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Poly would cap the scoring on a touchdown run by backup QB Deuce Jefferson in the fourth quarter.

In addition to Curry’s big night, Smith had the TD reception and TD punt return, and Malau’ulu had three catches for 80 yards and two scores.

The seniors honored pregame filled the entire field, stretching from one end zone to another with their families. The group has only lost two games in their last 20 contests and went 4-0 against Mission Viejo and Serra. There were lots of stories in that long line, including Luke Buggs, who walked with his father Andrew holding a picture of his mother, Mary, who passed away in 2019. Buggs was accompanied by the Poly girls’ flag football seniors, since he volunteers his time as an assistant coach with the Jackrabbits’ girls’ team.

Curry said it was an emotional night for all the seniors.

“I was just thankful to have everybody, all my loved ones by my side,” he said. “Time flew by. It’s crazy.”

Poly (8-1, 5-0) will close the regular season at Jordan on Thursday while Compton will host Lakewood.

VIDEO: Long Beach Poly vs Compton Football
PHOTOS: Long Beach Poly vs Compton 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.