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Is Compton in the house? Without a doubt, because that’s where Friday’s game of the week is despite two other big games on the horizon.
Some might be more interested in watching the No. 1 team in the state, Mater Dei, play Orange Lutheran. Maybe you care for the East L.A. Classic between Garfield and Roosevelt. But around here, that takes a backseat to Long Beach Poly playing at Compton.
In boxing terms, it’s the battle-tested defending champion against the young upstart who has demolished all opponents so far but has yet to prove himself against a big name opponent.
First off, there’s Poly, winners of 71 straight Moore League games and 26 of the last 27 league championships. If you’re counting at home, they have not lost a league game since 1994.
After falling to Birmingham early in the season and narrowly escaping Lakewood in their league opener, the Jackrabbits (7-1) are back on track as one of the best teams in the state. Currently they are ranked No. 3 in the Sentinel’s Top 10 as well as in the Top 10 in several polls around the region.
Then there’s the challenger, Compton. Ranked No. 1 in the Sentinel’s Top 10, the Tarbabes (8-0) are off to their best start under coach Calvin Bryant’s watch.
Their running game has been their strength behind the combo of two 1,000-yard rushers: senior Donald Green (1,676 yards) and junior Curry Williams (1,095 yards).
Throw in tomorrow night being the Tarbabes’ homecoming game and expect a large crowd to fill Compton’s stadium. Advice to everyone: Show up extra early because you don’t want to be left on the outside looking in.
But questions abound for both teams. Before last week against Millikan, Compton has played a favorable schedule where every team currently has a losing record. Against Millikan, the Tarbabes had a 34-7 lead in the third quarter before giving up 21 unanswered points and barely escaping with a six-point victory.
For those who wonder if the Tarbabes have benefited from an easy schedule, this game will be a worthy measuring stick as Compton’s high-powered offense takes on the best defense they’ll see all year, led by defensive back Vaughn Telemaque and defensive lineman Jurrell Casey.
On Poly’s side, they have struggled with their passing game although quarterback Morgan Fennell has played well the last two weeks. They also have had a tendency to turn the ball over too often which a tough defense like Compton could take advantage of.
As good as they have been, the Jackrabbits have not been as dominant as in years past and although they may be the favorites coming into Friday’s game, some think the Tarbabes have a good chance to spring an upset here.
There is lot more riding on this game that just clinching at least a share of the Moore League championship and jockeying for a favorable playoff position. For Poly, after starting the season slowly, a strong performance would reaffirm their status as one of the state’s best as well as a huge lift as the playoff picture becomes clearer.
For Compton, it would not only be one of the biggest victories in recent memory, but it would prove they are a legitimate contender for a CIF title as well as erase any doubts in people’s minds about their talent.
It’s youth versus experience tomorrow night in the city of Compton and there is no doubt it will be one of the best games of the year.