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Lakewood hopes to end Poly streak

October 03, 2008|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

In the Moore League, it's not Long Beach Poly and everyone else; it's pretty much the Jackrabbits and no one else.

Heading into today's 7 p.m. league game at No. 19 Lakewood, Poly has won a state-record 73 consecutive Moore League games. No other league team has won a Southern Section title since Long Beach Millikan in 1979.

Winning has become so routine that former Poly offensive lineman Jason Jones remembers neither the opponent (Millikan) nor the score (56-0) of the game that started the Jackrabbits' winning streak on Oct. 28, 1994.

Yet Jones possesses nearly total recall when it comes to the last league loss, a 28-0 drubbing by Long Beach Jordan the previous week. And what sticks with him about that evening was the way the Panthers partied as the Poly team bus rolled off the Jordan campus.

"It was like it was the greatest win they ever had," Jones said. "Those guys were so ecstatic to not only beat us but embarrass us."

The Jackrabbits, who are 3-0 and The Times' No. 2-ranked team, have done all of the humiliating since. Fifty games during the streak have been decided by more than 30 points, with 20 being decided by at least 50 points.

Jones ascribed the Jackrabbits' success to a multitude of magnet programs that draw students from across the Southland and an unparalleled athletic tradition.

"In Long Beach, everyone grows up wanting to play for Poly," said Jones, who covers the Oakland Raiders for the Sacramento Bee.

Jackrabbits Coach Raul Lara, who inherited the league winning streak from Jerry Jaso in 2001, said there's no special formula besides utilizing his talent to do "whatever it takes to win the game, and right now we're running the ball more."

Lara estimated that his team, which features a grind-it-out attack led by tailbacks Melvin Richardson and Daveon Barner, runs 80% of the time. The pair combined for 330 yards rushing last week in a 14-0 victory over Carson.

Some years, Lara said, the Jackrabbits have won without the best talent. That appeared to be the case in 2004, when Lakewood's defense featured linebackers Luthur Brown and Adrian McCovey, both top college prospects, and yet the Lancers lost to Poly, 22-9.

The Jackrabbits' closest calls during the streak have come against Lakewood, the only league opponent to come within two touchdowns. A 13-6 loss to Poly last year still rankles Lancers Coach Thadd MacNeal because his team committed a turnover deep in Jackrabbits territory and surrendered a touchdown on a third-and-long play.

The Lancers forfeited their four victories this season for using an ineligible player, and they'll be without running back Allie Lone, who suffered a broken shoulder during practice Tuesday. Still, they possess a balanced offense that includes quarterback Jesse Scroggins and running backs Eric Hayes and Octavious Tate.

"Our kids feel like they can win," MacNeal said. "They have a pretty good attitude about knocking them off, not . . . in an arrogant way."

The pick: Poly.

No. 6 Santa Ana Mater Dei (3-1) vs. No. 11 Huntington Beach Edison (3-1)

Tonight at Orange Coast

College, 7

* Both teams are seeking a signature victory, and this would certainly qualify. Mater Dei's defense has struggled in three of four games, surrendering 43 points against Carson and putting the Monarchs in a 20-0 hole last week against L.A. Jordan before running back Jaron Hytche scored four touchdowns to spark a 49-32 victory. Edison quarterback Matt Viles nearly led the Chargers to a comeback victory against Anaheim Servite last week, passing for 280 yards before a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions secured the Friars' 29-17 victory. Mater Dei has defeated Edison in each of the last two years; the Chargers logged a 24-21 triumph over the Monarchs in 2005 but later had to forfeit the victory for using an ineligible player.

The pick: Mater Dei.

--

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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