Power Shift: Serra Rocks L.B. Poly

Gardena Serra beat up Southland power Long Beach Poly in a nonleague game in Gardena. Photo: Dennis J. Freeman

Gardena-Long Beach Poly has sent more football players to the NFL than any other high school in the country. Philadelphia Eagles wideout LeSean Jackson is just one former Jackrabbit currently playing in the NFL. When you think of Long Beach Poly, you think of a tradition of excellence on the football field…Home of Champions and Scholars.

When you think of the Jackrabbits, you think of players like Gene Washington, Kirk Jones, Marcedes Lewis, Earl McCullouch, Tony Hill and Willie McGinest.

When you think of Long Beach Poly, you think of power, speed and supreme athleticism. When you think of Gardena Serra, you think of a small religious school trying to build a program that may one day rival that of Long Beach Poly High School.

When you think of Serra, you think of a nice surplus of talent that this beginning to come from the football program in the past few years.  When you think of Serra, you think of destined-to-the NFL wide receivers Robert Woods and Marquis Lee, now shredding defenses at the collegiate level. When you think of Serra, you think state champion on multiple occasions, a program on the rise to national prominence.

Long Beach Poly quarterback Anterio Bateman is about to feel the heat from Serra’s defense. Photo: Dennis J. Freeman

When you have Long Beach Poly meeting up with Gardena Serra in a nonleague matchup, well the atmosphere is sure to be electric. That’s what happened Friday night at Serra High School where the Cavaliers hosted the Jackrabbits in front of a standing-room crowd. It was a matchup of longtime tradition versus the sort of newcomer on the block looking to upstage the longtime Long Beach football powerhouse.

Serra punched Poly in the mouth right from the start. Two fumbles at the start of the game on consecutive series led to two Serra touchdowns, putting Poly in a 14-0 hole before the midway point in the first quarter. With the feel of a heavyweight fight, Serra put Poly on the ropes early, nearly knocking out one of the Southland’s premier football programs before the Jackrabbits could even get their feet set.

Poly wasn’t able to recover from those two blows, and subsequently looked flat and tentative the rest of the evening as Serra maintained control the game throughout the contest, despite the fact that the Jackrabbits outgained the Cavaliers in total yards. Serra quarterback Jalen Green, looking tentative at times, and indecisive at others, was able guide his team to the big win with three touchdown passes that offset the two interceptions he threw.

Eban Jackson, Poly’s starting quarterback, couldn’t get untracked all night, getting crunched on the game’s opening series, which led directly to Serra first points of the night. Jackson didn’t have a lot of time to throw the ball, completing just 13 of 24 passes for 114 yards with the one touchdown he threw coming late in the fourth quarter when Serra had already secured the game.

Serra flat out looked and played like they were the better team. Poly looked like a team playing off its storied reputation. A shift of power may have officially been passed.

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