Jerry Jaso, the first-year co-head coach at Poly High School, calls it "a whale of a football game," and perhaps that speaks for a lot of longtime Long Beach residents who remember what it's like at the annual meeting between Poly and Wilson High.
The 53rd renewal of the intracity rivalry will be Friday night at 7:30 at Veterans Stadium.
For Jaso, the game has special meaning. A 1968 graduate of Poly, he played on teams that suffered back-to-back losses (in 1966 and '67) to Wilson.
"It means less to me from the standpoint that I lost to them (Wilson) several years ago," he said. He added that the real meaning of the series centered around his feelings for Wilson Coach Al Taylor, who was the defensive coordinator at Poly when Jaso was first hired there.
"I learned a lot from Al," he said.
After losing the series lead in the early '70s, Poly has rebounded and now leads, 28-21-3. Wilson (4-2 overall and 0-2 in the Moore League) has not beaten Poly since 1976 and will have a hard time doing it this time.