It's only Week 2 of the high school football season, but the way Harbor City Narbonne systematically dismantled 18-time Southern Section champion Long Beach Poly on Friday night should send shock waves around the state.
With 17 starters back from its City Section Division I championship team, Narbonne (2-0) has legitimate aspirations of playing a 16-game season, and the Gauchos emphatically passed their first big test, routing the Jackrabbits, 56-0.
"That was domination," Narbonne Coach Manuel Douglas said.
Narbonne opened a 42-0 halftime lead. Poly (1-2) didn't get a first down until there was 1:36 left in the second quarter. Rarely has any opponent manhandled the Jackrabbits quite like Narbonne did on both sides of the ball.
"Narbonne kicked our butt," Poly Coach Raul Lara said.
Running clock was used in the fourth quarter.
"Unexpected," Narbonne quarterback Troy Williams said. "The tradition of Poly is so great I never thought this could happen. We had a great week of practice. We kept telling each other, 'Don't be intimidated by the name on the jersey.'"
Narbonne was ranked No. 13 by The Times and Poly No. 24. Poly outgained unbeaten Gardena Serra last week before losing, 20-12. But the Jackrabbits were never in the game, starting from the second play from scrimmage when Tony Gates ran 40 yards for a touchdown.
"I think Narbonne is the real deal," Lara said.
Williams, a Washington commit who had lost to Poly the previous two seasons, contributed touchdown runs of 16, 11 and four yards and passed 20 yards to A.J. Richardson for another touchdown. Johnell Jackson scored touchdowns on runs of 12 and 19 yards.
Williams is just grateful he doesn't have to face his team's defense.
"The defense is great," he said.
Narbonne's defense has 10 returning starters, and it's filled with speed, size and players who love to make big hits. There's tackle Pepe Lepua, 6 feet 3, 255 pounds, who's active, tough and doesn't let people push him anywhere. There are linebackers Keishawn Bierria and Marquis Lomax, who thrive on running down ballcarriers. There are cornerbacks Bruce Hicks and Kwentin Polk, who dare receivers to beat them. Polk had a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown.
In 2007, Lake Balboa Birmingham went 13-1 and won the City championship behind a starting defense that allowed just two touchdowns over the final 10 games. Narbonne's defense might be just as good.
As for Poly, players and coaches are going to need to do some soul-searching this weekend after perhaps their worst loss in 40 years.
Lara, in his 12th season, was classy afterward, staying to answer every question from the media. He understands the expectations for a program whose fans think they should never lose.
"We're not used to this," he said. "We've never had a running clock."