Video produced by Jonathan Harper. Article by Julio Nievas.
Long Beach Poly junior wide receiver Richard Smith gave it his all as he had eight receptions for 184 yards, but it wasn’t enough to give the Jackrabbits the win as the Mater Dei Monarchs ended Poly’s season with a 26-10 loss at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
The Jackrabbits struggled offensively as junior quarterback Chaiyse Hales threw three interceptions and no touchdowns; two of them consequently resulted in touchdowns by the Monarchs. He did throw for 227 yards, but the interceptions were the biggest factors in the game and ultimately guided the Jackrabbits to a loss, though head coach Raul Lara believed the running game was the most ineffective.
“We were really trying really hard to run the ball,” said Lara. “They did a great job at stopping us against the run.”
Lara’s words were accurate as Poly’s leading rusher, Keltain Malveaux, ran for only 36 yards. Malveaux did have a 47-yard run, but it was erased by a holding call suffered by Poly.
It wasn’t all bad for the Jackrabbits. Smith was the most effective player on the field, and the Monarchs’ secondary had no answer against him as he averaged 23 yards per reception. Smith started Poly’s first drive with a 57-yard reception. His elusiveness not only helped Poly’s game tonight, but has been the primary skill that has guided the Jackrabbit’s season.
“We should have given Richard the ball more,” said Lara. “They started scheming us a little bit and it just didn’t work out.”
Lara did praise the Monarch’s defense. The Monarchs converted on three turnovers, all interceptions, and forced two fumbles that the Jackrabbits recovered.
“You just can’t turn the ball over against these kind of teams,” said Lara. “It was a focus we talked about along with being physical. We can’t turn the ball over and we discussed that, obviously it didn’t work out.”
Though the Jackrabbits finished their season on a bad note, Lara was optimistic about next season and praised his quarterback. Hales did have three interceptions, but as a junior Hales has space to learn and improve from his mistakes.
“This is a learning experience for him, these are the kind of games he hast to go through,” said Lara. “These are the games that will make him an elite quarterback. When you make mistakes against stiffer competition, you have to know what they’re doing to make yourself better.”
Poly ends their season atop of the Moore League, but eliminated from the playoffs. Only the Lakewood Lancers advance in the playoffs from the Moore League as Long Beach Jordan, Long Beach Wilson, and Poly lost.