RELATED: Week 1 Top 25 Scoreboard
Crenshaw of Los Angeles was supposed to be down after losing serious firepower off a team that reached the L.A. City Section Division I final. The Long Beach Poly coaching staff, however, wasn’t taking anything for granted. They knew is veteran Shaw coach Robert Garrett agreed to play the Jackrabbits, that Crenshaw had some serious talent.
Indeed the Cougars did and when quarterback Ajene Harris beat Poly’s Elijah Moody to the corner of the end zone on a 2-point conversion scamper after a two-yard touchdown run by RB Jacob Knight, the score was 15-15 with 10:30 remaining in the game. Poly, the state’s No. 6 ranked team in the preseason, answered with two scores, both receiving touchdowns by Christian Pabico, to pull out a 28-15 win over a team every bit as good as its preseason No. 45 ranking indicated.
With 9:09 remaining in the game, Poly QB Tai Tiedemann (12-23, 144 yards, 2 TDs, 1 Int) hit Pabico on a 11-yard fade route in the right corner of the end zone to make the score 21-15 as the extra point was missed. After Poly (1-0) got the ball back, Tiedemann fouled a wide-open Pabico in the middle of the field and he raced 41-yards for the clinching touchdown with 6:12 showing on the clock. The extra point was converted by Killian Turley, the daughter of Poly defensive coordinator Jeff Turley. It’s believed to be the first points ever scored by a female in Poly football history.
The key to Poly’s offensive surge down the stretch, according to head coach Raul Lara, was switching potential Student Sports All-American John “JuJu” Smith to running back. He finished with 38 yards rushing and 66 yards receiving, but more importantly, gave Poly a shot in the arm it needed. The Jackrabbits don’t have much depth on the defensive line and two starters went down with injury. Both Smith and junior defensive back Iman Marshall will go both ways extensively, so Lara and his staff are trying to develop some dependable depth at the skill positions.
Marshall did not play in the second half to a shoulder injury that has been bothersome for the preseason all-state DB since last season.
Crenshaw (0-1) standouts included Harris, who was a much bigger factor than his final stats indicate (6-19, 117 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT) and Knight, who displayed good acceleration and toughness. On defense, all-LA City pick Corey Walker is The Shaw’s best player and the Poly coaching staff was also impressed by senior OLB-S Davien Risher.
Crenshaw’s non-league schedule includes three more CIFSS Pac-Five opponents, plus Edison of Fresno, and the Cougars will be a tough out for all four of those opponents.