May 22, 2022

Long Beach Poly football wins 20th CIF-SS championship in school history

View Original Notice ? Long Beach Poly football wins 20th CIF-SS championship in school history

LA CAÑADA >> It was Long Beach Poly’s toughest test of the CIF Southern Section football playoffs and the Jackrabbits would not have wanted it any other way.

However, Poly was able to run for nearly 400 yards on the way to a 38-7 against St. Francis in the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game Saturday night.

The victory gave Poly its 20th CIF-SS football championship in school history. It was the program’s first since 2012.

  • Long Beach Poly players celebrates after defeating St. Francis, 38-7, in the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Poly’s Jalen Johnson, center, and Dylan Willams, right, celebrate along with their team after defeating St. Francis, 38-7, to win the CIF-SS Division 4 championship title at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Poly’s Devin Samples (6) runs the ball into the end zone to score a touchdown against St. Francis during the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Poly’s Shea Kuykendall (5) tries to fire off a pass during the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game against St. Francis at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Poly’s Nicholas Kelly (13) races across the field during the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Poly head coach, Stephen Barbee, holds up the CIF-SS Division 4 championship title after defeating St. Francis, 38-7, at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • St. Francis??? Preston Jernegan (44) is brought down during the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game against Long Beach Poly at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • St. Francis’ Jett McCullough (27) looks for an open lane to run during the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game against Long Beach Poly at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Poly’s Devin Samples (6) across the field during the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game against St. Francis at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • St. Francis takes the field ahead of the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game against Long Beach Poly at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Poly’s Devin Samples (6) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against St. Francis during the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • St. Francis hold up their helmets as they sing after losing to Long Beach Poly, 38-7, in the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • St. Francis’ Max Garrison, right, is embraced after his team lost to Long Beach Poly, 38-7, in the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • St. Francis’ Myles Shannon (24) tries to shake off Long Beach Poly???s Malik Brown (9) during the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • St. Francis’ Maxwell Garrison (2) falls back as he makes a catch along the sideline during the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game against Long Beach Poly at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • St. Francis’ Jack Jacobs (16) tries to fire off a pass during the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game against Long Beach Poly at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • St. Francis fans cheer during the CIF-SS Division 4 championship game against Long Beach Poly at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

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“The mission stays the same,” said Long Beach Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “It’s not who we play but how we play.”

“It feels good to win. We haven’t won one in a long time so it’s a blessing,” said Poly junior running back Devin Samples, who finished the game with 38 carries, 220 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

“All my hard work is paying off,” Samples added.

Poly sophomore safety Timmy Tuiagamoa got the Jackrabbits defense going when he forced a fumble on the opening possession. The ball was recovered by Poly senior linebacker Malik Brown with 10:20 left in the first quarter.

Poly capitalized on the turnover on their first possession on offense. Samples scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to give Poly a 7-0 lead with 8:21 left in the first quarter. That would not be the last time Samples found the end zone against the Golden Knights.

Overall, Poly executed its game plan and kept the game simple, relying on its strong running game behind an experienced offensive line.

“You can’t overthink it. As a coach you need to understand you don’t need to run a bunch of plays, you need to be able to run the plays that work,” said Barbee. “If they’re not going to adjust to something or they’re going to play certain types of defenses, there’s always going to be offensive plays that will be there and work.

“You have to be consistent with that and be able to execute them.”

St. Francis was not deterred early in the game. After being down 7-0 it responded by taking advantage of missed tackles on a 20-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jack Jacobs to senior wide receiver Dylan Bell to tie the game at 7 with 6:07 left in the first quarter.

“We had some things we can improve on,” Barbee shared.

However, after that, it would be all Poly.

Samples finished the first half with 24 carries, 134 rushing yards, and three touchdowns, giving Poly a 21-7 lead at halftime.

“I put the team on my back, it feels wonderful,” Samples said. “The offensive line was amazing. I can’t thank them enough.”

“Our offensive line did an incredible job going from the first and second level. Our two running backs, Devin Samples and Joshua Cason, they were awesome,” Barbee added.

Cason, a sophomore running back who is also a starting linebacker, finished with 14 carries for 133 yards rushing and one touchdown.

THE CLASS OF 2022

Barbee said he’s very proud of his team, in particular his seniors, who helped hold St. Francis to 20 yards rushing in the championship game.

“Coming off our 2019 playoff loss, we showed up the next Monday at 6 a.m. working and we haven’t stopped working since,” Barbee said. “We felt we had a great spring but unfortunately for those seniors (Class of 2021) there were no playoffs, so it is great to be able to see seniors be in a position to not only be at the dance and at the table but take the whole thing.”

Poly’s season will continue into the month of December. The Jackrabbits will be in a Southern California Regional championship game next week, and if they win they advance to the state championships on Dec. 10-11.

“We’re excited to get another week of football with this group,” Barbee continued. “It’s another week to be able to get better, be able to execute, be able to plan for another team and play Long Beach Poly football in the California state regional game.”

Samples believes winning a CIF-SS championship is just a stop on the journey to winning a CIF State championship.

“The job is not done. We have regionals and a state championship to win,” he said.

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