Antonio Pierce

Four-year Long Beach Poly football coach Antonio Pierce confirmed Thursday afternoon that he’s stepping down from his post. The move comes just days after reports that new Arizona State coach Herm Edwards offered Pierce a position on his defensive staff next season.

“It was a great four years,” said Pierce. “I learned more about myself and how to coach and I created bonds with young men that I think will carry on for the rest of my life.”

Pierce is expected to take a job at the collegiate or NFL level next year.

“Long Beach Poly would like to thank coach Antonio Pierce for his four years of leadership, hard work and dedication to Long Beach Poly High School's football program,” wrote Poly boys athletic director Rob Shock in a statement. “We wish coach the best of luck moving forward.”

Poly went 35-11 on the field in four years under Pierce, but forfeit four games due to use of an ineligible player in 2015. The Jackrabbits reached the CIF-SS Division 1 semifinals in 2014 in Pierce’s first year, then missed the playoffs in 2015 and were eliminated in the first round in 2016. This year Poly went 9-3 and was eliminated in the quarterfinals by eventual national champion Mater Dei.

Pierce said the part of his record that was most important to him was the fact that 52 Poly football players signed scholarships in his four-year tenure.

“It’s a special place and the kids are great, the best thing about Long Beach Poly is the student-athletes, they’re incredible people,” said Pierce. “Watching those kids go to college, seeing families smile on signing day, I’ll never forget that.”

Pierce said that he’ll help with the search to replace him and aid the team’s next coach in any way possible.

“It starts with the district and administration being supportive,” he said. “You’re in the lowest income area of any school in Division 1, and you have to deal with a lot as a result—raising money, getting community involvement if you want to remain competitive.”

The team has a good amount of returning talent on the roster, including twins Kejuan and Keon Markham, and sophomore-to-be quarterback Jake Garcia, who’s one of the top slingers in the 2020 class.

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."

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