The 2012 meeting of the Jackrabbits and the Lancers wasn’t the Moore League Super Bowl. In fact, it may have signaled the end of one of the area’s most exciting high school football rivalries. From the 2008 CIF Semifinal meeting to the 2009 streak-busting win by Lakewood, there has been plenty of reason to look forward to this matchup each and every year.

But this time, the Jackrabbits proved themselves as the unquestioned top dogs in the Moore League, pulling away for a dominant 42-3 win last Friday night at Vets. Here’s a look at the five key plays that defined the game and led to the Poly romp.

4:31 1st Qtr, Lakewood Ball, 4th & 5 on the Lakewood 49: Poly 0, Lakewood 0


Photo by Matt Guardabascio

After their second drive of the night stalled near midfield, the Lancers lined up to punt with a chance to pin Poly back in their own end. Instead, the snap went to upback Kendal Rodgers on a fake punt attempt. He looked for teammate Jared Joseph to his left, but Poly’s Jaylen Massengill was there in air-tight coverage. Rodgers was then hit by Jeremy Calhoun and immediately swarmed under by a group of pink jerseys.

The decision to go for the fake showed Lakewood had an underdog’s mentality; a team that needed to make something weird happen with a trick play on special teams. With the game still scoreless, and with the chance to keep field position in their favor, the Lancers swung for the fences and came up empty.

8:55 2nd Qtr, Poly Ball, 4th & 4 on the Lakewood 26: Poly 7, Lakewood 0


Photo by Jim Cayer

Trying to stop the Jackrabbits on fourth down, the Lancer defense was victimized by its own aggressiveness. The “Red Swarm” brought six defenders up to the line of scrimmage and rushed them all, playing perfectly into Poly’s play call.

Quarterback Tai Tiedemann rolled to his right to draw the pressure, then turned and lofted a pass over three unblocked defenders into the waiting arms of tight end David Drummer, wide open on a screen pass. Drummer would gain 22 yards to set up Poly’s second score of the night just one play later.

8:43 2nd Qtr, Lakewood Ball, Kickoff Return: Poly 14, Lakewood 0

Following that touchdown, the Lancers needed a spark, and got it on the ensuing kickoff from senior X’avier Shepherd. The Utah-bound wide receiver took the kickoff and raced through the Poly coverage team out to the 37-yard-line, showing some of the speed and explosiveness that Lakewood has missed from him in recent weeks.

Lakewood had moved the ball a bit through the air to that point with quarterback Chris Bell, and appeared poised for a response to Poly’s second touchdown.

Instead, Lakewood went to the ground game with three consecutive running plays by Rodgers, picking up respective gains of zero, two, and three yards. The Lancers were then forced to punt, never building on the momentum of Shepherd’s return.

11:54 4th Qtr, Poly Ball, 2nd & 10 on Lakewood 27: Poly 21, Lakewood 3


Photo by Jim Cayer

On the second play of the fourth quarter, the Jackrabbits put the game away with a touchdown run from Washington State commit Gerard Wicks. The hole opened up behind blocks from left guard Drew Ho and fullback Manusamoa Lu’uga, allowing Wicks to get through the line and show off his speed getting to the edge.

“I saw the defender with his weight on his inside foot,” Wicks said after the game. “So I broke to the outside and attacked his off foot.”

As the highlight video at shows, Wicks was able to tiptoe along the sideline twice, staying inbounds both times by mere inches.

4:29 4th Qtr, Lakewood Ball, 1st & 10 on Lakewood 13: Poly 35, Lakewood 3


Photo by Matt Guardabascio

If Wicks ended the game, linebacker Jayon Brown may have ended the rivalry on this play. After walking up and down prior to taking the field, promising the Poly sideline a pick-six, the UCLA-bound linebacker read the first play of the Lancer drive perfectly, dropping back into coverage to intercept Bell’s pass at the 20-yard-line and cruising into the endzone for the game’s final score.

“We talked about it not being a rivalry game, but just another Moore League game,” Brown said later.

Poly head coach Raul Lara was of a similar vein, unconcerned with the verbiage surrounding the game.

“Rivalry, not a rivalry, we could care less about what people call it,” said Lara.

Decades of Poly dominance in the Moore League yielded to some parity over the past five years, but with last week’s result, it appears that the Jackrabbits might be a few paces ahead of the pack once again.

That is, until one great game starts a rivalry all over again.

Sports Guy Mike Guardabascio has been writing professionally for a decade, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards and is the author of the historical book "Football in Long Beach."

(1) comment

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No rivalry here. Poly rules and always been the best program in the Moore League. Now Coach Lara and his staff need to get back to ruling the Pac-5. Remember no coach has won more top level So Cal Cif titles than Lara since he became the head coach. But the past three years are not up to Poly standards and change needs to come quickly. Winning the Moore League is just not enough when you have a storied past like the Jackrabbits.

-lbp fan

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