Devin Samples’ runs help Long Beach Poly beat Gardena Serra

For a running back with mighty standards, Devin Samples’ first-week effort for Long Beach Poly against Clovis was forgettable.

Sure, he picked up a couple touchdowns. But he ground his way to just 33 yards in 11 carries. Coach Stephen Barbee didn’t think it was indicative of anything — he had a couple running backs in Karon Green and Josh Cason who’d get more looks.

“I don’t need to run him 20, 30 times a game,” Barbee said of Samples early this week.

Thirty-three carries later in a 17-3 win in Friday night’s rivalry matchup with Gardena Serra, so much for that.

The bigger the game, Barbee said, the bigger Samples’ performance. There are few games bigger than Friday night’s — and time and time again, the Jackrabbits turned to Samples to simply run the ball down Serra’s throat. He finished with 177 yards and a touchdown.

It was a new year, Barbee said. Completely new team. Gone are the four-year faces at quarterback for each program, Serra’s Maalik Murphy and Poly’s Shea Kuykendall.

Yet Jackrabbits players haven’t forgotten Serra knocking them out in the Southern Section Division 1-A finals last season, or their 28-27 loss to the Cavaliers in that season‘s opener.

“We can’t let them do this three times in a row … we gotta go out there with a different mentality this time for sure,” quarterback Darius Curry said Tuesday.

On the Jackrabbits’ first drive Friday, Curry looked rushed, nearly throwing a pick on his first pass and struggling to move the ball. So the very next drive, Barbee turned to a hurry-up offense and just kept force-feeding Samples, who chugged for 78 first-half yards in 14 carries.

“He’s got the biggest heart once he gets that ball in his hands,” Barbee said after the game.

Four yards. Eight yards. Six yards. Eight yards. Hardly a blink went by, and Curry was handing off to Samples, the 5-foot-6 back’s powerful legs churning for another chunk of yardage. Finally, after Samples brought the ball to the 36, the field opened up for Curry, the quarterback launching a spiral deep into the night at Veterans Memorial Stadium to find sophomore Jadyn Robinson for the game’s first touchdown.

Robinson tallied 68 yards and the touchdown, leading a receiving corps that Barbee called the deepest in his five years coaching the program.

“We got dogs all over the field,” Curry said earlier in the week.

One of those standouts was linebacker Ikenasio Mikaele, who picked up back-to-back sacks of Serra quarterback Jason Mitchell late in the second quarter and then scooped up a fumble on the Cavaliers’ first drive of the third quarter. The Poly defense kept Mitchell off balance all night, the safety-turned-quarterback misfiring on his first seven throws.

With Poly clinging to a 10-3 lead at the end of the third quarter, Samples took a handoff and burst through a hole down the left sideline, a 43-yard gain that marked his first carry of more than 15 yards. Snap after snap on the drive, the ball found his trusty hands, and he kept digging for short gains until he found paydirt on third and goal with a one-yard push.

Sure, Barbee might not need to run him 30 times — but in the biggest of games, the workhorse is a special luxury.

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.