Poly Clinches Moore League Title With Big Win Over Millikan • Long Beach Post

POLY SWARM TWO

Millikan was stifled by Poly’s marauding defense until very late in the game. Photos by Matt Cohn


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On one side last Friday night, there was the Poly Jackrabbits–a team so good, scoring any points against them at all is considered a moral victory. On the other, the Millikan Rams, 2 – 28 over the previous three years but currently enjoying an exciting comeback season. The winners of this game were the spectators, who not only got to witness a textbook performance from Poly–one of the greatest football programs in American high school history–but also saw Millikan rally in the final minute to score a touchdown to make the final score 49 – 6 and deny Poly sole possession of the Moore League fewest-points-allowed record, which the Jackrabbits now share with the ’73 Millikan team.

With the win, Poly takes sole possession of 1st place in the Moore League. Cabrillo secured 2nd place and a playoff spot by beating Wilson on Friday. The 3rd playoff spot will be determined next Friday.

Millikan got behind the eight-ball early against Poly when they opened the game by attempting an onside kick. The ball didn’t travel the required ten yards, so Poly got great field position and quickly took advantage. By the 2: 20 in the 1st quarter the Rams were down 20 – 0.

Things quickly got worse for Millikan. Two senior linemen, Jacob Tyra and Fernando Viramontes, were seen weeping on the sidelines, each with a knee wrapped in ice. It was a tough moment for the team, and for two players who just minutes earlier were introduced on the field with their families as part of Senior Night.

Poly’s ferocious defense, spearheaded by defensive end Scotty Logan Fao, shut the Rams’ running game down and forced two interceptions. Poly’s multi-dimensional offense was on full display: Quarterback Tai Tiedemann connected on a 45-yard TD pass to Christian Pabico, Jeremy Calhoun caught a screen pass and made a beautiful cut-back to find the end zone, and Iman Marshall and James Brooks also ran for TD’s. By halftime Poly was up 37 – 0.

During his halftime talk, Poly head coach Raul Lara admonished his team not to get “loosey-goosey” and take the huge lead for granted. The ending of the game seemed academic, but interest remained high: Could Millikan score and protect that vintage record set by their predecessors from ’73?

Lynne Amyx Nikoletich CROPPED

Lynne Amyx keeping a family tradition alive at Millikan.

“We talk about that record in my family,” said Lynne Amyx, an ’82 Millikan grad, mother of two current Millikan athletes, and treasurer of the Ram Bench Boosters, as she worked the t-shirt booth under the Millikan grandstand. Lynne’s maiden name is Nikoletich and her brother, Bart, was a member of the ’73 team. “We don’t want that record to go away because Poly has enough glory!” she said, laughing.

Poly continued to dominate throughout the second half. Finally, in the waning moments of the 4th quarter, a key roughing-the-passer penalty by Poly and a series of pass completions by Millikan sophomore QB Jordan Lawton got the Rams into scoring position. On a 4th down play, with 33 seconds left in the game, star running back Donald Gordon took a direct snap and ran 10 yards up the middle for a touchdown of great significance.

Millikan then had a chance to kick an extra point and secure ownership of the points-against record for another year, but the attempt sailed wide left.

Post-game, coach Lara was stern with his team, even in the wake of a 49 – 6 victory. He reminded his team of last year’s one-point loss to Granite Bay in the state championship game, and stressed the importance of “finishing.” Clearly, shutting out the league was one of Poly’s goals this year.

Millikan is now hoping that Wilson can put up some points against Poly next week in their Moore League finale, thus returning sole possession of the points-against record to the Rams. Millikan’s final league game next week is against archrival Lakewood, and is huge: Whoever loses that game will be eliminated from playoff contention. Given these scenarios, next Friday night promises to be an intriguing one for Moore League football fans.

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