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Sunday, December 09, 2007

LB Poly takes Southern Calif title for 17th time

So Long Beach Poly won another title, which makes it sound easy. It wasn't. Ranked as high as fifth in the nation pre-season, the team lost its opening game, 20-7, and was thereafter unranked and underestimated. Though always feared.

Following from afar, distracted by more pressing matters, I still was gratified to check in on Sunday mornings by reading the LA Times and the Long Beach Independent Press Telegram for the score of the previous night's game. I saw Poly marching on. Getting stronger, playing defense more cohesively, relying on a ground game as is the Jackrabbit tradition.

Last week Poly took on Orange Lutheran, who'd they lost to last year by a missed extra point with seconds left. On a rain soaked field, Orange was forced to punt on its first possession. The snap went over the kicker's head, into the end zone, where the punter ran it out for a safety. 2-0 Poly, with two minutes gone.

Orange, averaging 30 points a game, never scored. Poly pulled off two goal-line stands, in the last seconds of the first half and at the end of the game. Final score, 2-0.

In the final game, last night, Poly defeated Crespi 13-3, in the rain. That's 3 points allowed in two championship games: congratulations to coach Raul Lara and defensive coordinator Jeff Turley. These were tense games (Poly led Crespi by 6-3 at half and through most of the third and fourth quarters). High school kids playing without a letdown in the biggest show of their lives.

Thanks to Poly for allowing me to wear my colors - green and gold - on a cold wet Sunday in New York, far from Long Beach, Calif. Below are some game stories:

Stars pass along winning tradition
Article Launched: 12/08/2007 11:41:42 PM PST

As impressive as Long Beach Poly High's championship football legacy may be, it's the continuity of the program that leaves one marveling.

One attends a cold, wet CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division title game at Home Depot Center in 2007 and memories of past stars pop up in the course of Poly claiming its unprecedented 17th CIF title, 13-3 over Crespi before 14,898.

Vaughn Telemaque dives here for one interception, and dives there perfectly parallel to the ground for another, and then clinches the game with a leaping interception in the end zone on Crespi's last gasp drive.

He threw a virtual shutout of Crespi's Notre Dame-bound tight end Joseph Fauria, and it's almost impossible to not think of Mark Carrier, the former Poly and NFL standout. Or Marques Anderson, Chuckie Miller, Marquez pope, Omar Stoutmire and Darnell Bing, because Telemaque may be as good as any.

He certainly was the difference Saturday, on a defense that deserves credit for this title more than most. The Jackrabbits allowed just 106 points all season in a 13-1 season, and just 24 in four playoff games.

The lone touchdown Santa Margarita scored in the first playoff win came on a fumble return.

Newport Harbor scored a touchdown on a short drive set up by a turnover, and their last versus the second team. In the semis and finals, Poly allowed one field goal.

Then on the other side of the ball there was Melvin Richardson, a stout, quick 5-10, 195-pound junior running back who is reminiscent of former Georgia standout Herschel Walker in size and style, but for Poly fans will now join the same company as Herschel Dennis, Kirk Jones, Willie Brown and Dee Andrews as a classic difference-maker.

Richardson turned a run to the left into a 69-yard touchdown on Poly's first offensive series for a 6-0 lead, and then carried for gains of 7, 6, 19 and the scoring play of four yards in the fourth quarter to give Poly a 13-3 lead and the game.

That doesn't even include the 50-yard run that would have made it three touchdowns and a larger margin called back by a penalty. Richardson finished the night with 148 rushing yards.

Poly's 17th title is the third for Raul Lara since becoming Poly's head coach in 2001, adding to the titles he claimed in 2001 and 2004. He moves closer to the cr me of Poly lore, one behind Orian Landreth, who won four in 1929, 1930, 1934 and 1936, and one behind Jerry Jaso (1985, 1997, 1999, 2000), the first coming as co-coach with Thomas Whiting.

Dave Levy won back-to-back titles in 1958 and 1959. Ed Kienholz (1919), Art Schuettner (1923) and Jim Barnett (1980) also won titles, and Poly also claimed a lower weight CIF title in 1927.

Of course, nothing comes easy for Poly. As good as they are and as stout as the program may be, they always seem to take the rockier path to championships.

Only one of the titles since 1997 - they've won six in 11 years - came by a significant margin, the 21-6 win over Los Alamitos in 2004 that was also won in the final quarter like Saturday's. Poly beat Mater Dei by three in 1997, earned a co-title with a 1999 tie, and beat Loyola by three points in overtime in 2001.

The losses were close, too - a touchdown loss to Mater Dei in 1998, a one-point loss to the Monarchs in 2002, and a four-point loss to Loyola in 2003. Last year's semifinal loss to Orange Lutheran was by a point.

Poly couldn't have begun the game with more momentum. Richardson found a seam in the Crespi line and then split two defenders on the way to a 69-yard touchdown run just 64 seconds into the game.

But despite several opportunities and good field position, most of them coming courtesy of Telemaque, Poly was unable to build on that early score.

For starters, Jonathan Heinze's kick after Richardson's score hit the post so the lead was just 6-0.

Telemaque followed with two diving interceptions of Crespi quarterback Brian Bennett on the Celtics' first two possessions, the first setting Poly up at midfield, but the Jackrabbits went three-and-out.

Telemaque's second pick, a full out dive in front of Fauria, put Poly on the Crespi 30. Four runs later, Poly had a first-and-goal at the four, but Richardson lost the ball when hit at the two and Crespi recovered.

Poly drove into Crespi territory again on their next possession, and a 29-yard screen pass to fullback Iosefo Mikaele should have put the ball on the Crespi 15. But a holding penalty away from the play pushed Poly back to the 29, and another penalty put them further back, and Heinze's 50-yard field goal attempt was short.

Crespi went on their best drive of the night from there, converting six first downs to set Christian Nastos for a 32-yard field goal. The drive was aided by a third down holding penalty by Poly deep in Crespi territory.

Poly had the ball for only eight minutes in the first half but held a 6-3 lead.

But despite the squandered chances, Poly's defense never broke. After a bad punt snap set Crespi up at the Poly 34, the defense fought off the Celts and forced a field goal attempt. Romeo Robinson blocked a potentially game-tying field goal that wasn't ever going to reach orbit.

After Poly made it 13-3, Sheldon Armstrong and Telemaque broke up passes on Crespi's next drive. By the time Crespi got the ball again, there was just four minutes to go and it took almost all of the time for Crespi to get close - at which time Telemaque stepped up again with the game-clinching pick.

And 17th title, and more memories for the Poly vault.


Players' future also a priority for Poly
By Bob Keisser, IPT

Walking through the Poly gym to the office of head coach Raul Lara provides the atmosphere of a blue-collar museum, every nook opening to a different location for the football team.

Film room. Meeting room. Locker room. Plastered on the walls are championship plaques and pictures of former Jackrabbits now performing in college or the NFL.

Then you get to the room adjacent to Lara's office, and sitting there is Lara's assistant, Monica, with all kinds of collegiate stuff on her desk, and a white grease board behind her with the name of every Poly player.

It doesn't list them by position. It has columns indicating what SAT or ACT test they've taken, written in code and different colors to indicate when the student passed the test or when he's due to take it. Then there's another column indicating what schools have made earnest contact with Poly players about a scholarship.

As the season comes to an end after tonight's CIF Southern Section Pac-5 title game against Crespi at the Home Depot Center, and perhaps a state title game next weekend, that board will begin to fill up with more numbers, codes and names as colleges come Jackrabbit hunting.

"It's been a great asset," said Lara, who was on the phone talking to a college coach about a player when I walked in his office Wednesday. "Having an aide who handles all of this is such a great resource for me and the kids."

A former Poly standout made it happen. Lara was attending an NFL Summit for high school coaches and heard Gene Washington, the former Poly, Stanford and NFL standout and now one of the NFL's top execs, talk about the league's Play It Smart program.

This is the program. The league helps set up schools with the essentials to run its own academic clearinghouse and help steer kids to college.

I can remember how Jerry Jaso always had a clipboard in his desk with a list of players and notations on test scores and what schools were interested. He would often get on the phone and start calling smaller schools looking to get some of his lesser-known or smaller players an opportunity.

This system makes it much easier for everyone. It also underscores that for all of our fascination for Poly athletics, the school's motto about "academics" is taken seriously in the gym and on the field.

Eric Sondheimer: LA Times

Poly beats Crespi for Pac-5 title

Defense again is the key for the Jackrabbits as Richardson's running and Telemaque's three interceptions lead the way.

December 9, 2007

On a rain-drenched field at the Home Depot Center, Encino Crespi and Long Beach Poly engaged in an all-out defensive struggle, each team daring the other to find a way to succeed.

Poly junior running back Melvin Richardson took on the challenge and delivered, scoring on touchdown runs of 69 and four yards to help the Jackrabbits defeat Crespi, 13-3, to win the Pac-5 Division title Saturday night.

It was the 17th Southern Section championship for Poly (13-1), which last week also used its defensive superiority to defeat Orange Lutheran, 2-0, in the semifinals. Richardson finished with 157 yards in 17 carries. Senior defensive back Vaughn Telemaque had three interceptions.

Now it's up to the 10 section commissioners from the California Interscholastic Federation, high school's governing body, to decide at a gathering today in Carson which six schools will be selected for the CIF state championship bowl games next Saturday at the Home Depot Center.

The toughest decision involves trying to choose the Division I representative from Southern California. It's a likely choice between City Section champion Lake Balboa Birmingham and Inland Division winner Corona Centennial.

Birmingham defeated Poly during the regular season, so the Patriots are hoping a victory over the newly crowned Pac-5 champion sways the voters. But Centennial owns a win over Crespi, a team Birmingham lost to.

Eric Sondheimer: LA Times

Long Beach Poly: secondary to none

December 7, 2007

Long Beach Poly has produced more NFL players than any high school in California, and the position that college coaches count on for the Jackrabbits to deliver a top prospect every season is defensive back.

Former Poly defensive backs are scattered around the nation, from Donovan Warren at Michigan to Vincent Joseph at USC, from Rodney Van at UCLA to Byron Davenport at Washington.

In the past, there was Mark Carrier, Darnell Bing, Marquez Pope, Marques Anderson, Anthony Cobbs, Omar Stoutmire, Darrell Rideaux. . . .

"We can go on and on," Poly Coach Raul Lara said. "We can probably name 30 guys."

So it should come as no surprise that as Poly (12-1) prepares to take on Encino Crespi (11-2) in the Southern Section Pac-5 Division championship game Saturday night at the Home Depot Center, defense remains the Jackrabbits' specialty.

Their senior safeties, Vaughn Telemaque and Herman Davidson, form the best safety duo in the Southland. Telemaque has offers from USC, Michigan and Oregon. Davidson is being recruited by Michigan, North Carolina, Mississippi and San Diego State.

Telemaque could be a better safety prospect than Bing, who was a standout at USC. The senior is 6 feet 1, is fast and hits people with tremendous ferocity.

"The bigger he is, the harder he falls," Telemaque said of his upcoming assignment: stopping 6-8 Crespi tight end Joseph Fauria.

Both safeties have six interceptions. And Poly's two senior cornerbacks, Jeffrey Johnson and Sheldon Armstrong, can more than hold their own.

The Jackrabbits pulled off one of the most memorable goal-line stands in school history last week in the second quarter of their 2-0 semifinal victory over Orange Lutheran.

Four times the Lancers tried to score from the one-yard line on running plays. Four times they were stuffed inches short of the goal line.

"It's got to be right up there at the top of anything I've ever seen," Poly defensive coordinator Jeff Turley said.

Then, in the final 30 seconds, Poly came up with another goal-line stand from the one, recovering a fumble to preserve the victory.

There's so much pride Poly players have when they wear their green jerseys.

"That green is golden," Telemaque said. "It really means something when you put on the Poly uniform."

Then there's the tradition established by the all-star players of the past from a school that has won 16 Southern Section football championships.

"We want to live up to everybody," Telemaque said. "We love the tradition."

It's no secret why Poly's secondary is good on a yearly basis. Players show up with lots of athletic ability, and the coaches do the rest.

"We're fortunate to get great athletes at that position and they get college coaching," Lara said. "They're sound, technique-wise."

Of course, with so much talent come high expectations, and Poly is probably the only team in the Southland whose fans expect to win every game no matter the opponent.

"It's a lot of fun," Telemaque said. "At the same time, it's a challenge."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Long Beach Poly & De La Salle Footballers in NFL

The Magnificent Seven?

When Long Beach Poly played Concord De La Salle in 2001, it was billed as a mythical high school football national championship game. Today, seven players from that contest are in the NFL, which raises the question: Was Poly-DLS the most talent ever arrayed for a non-all-star game?

SEPT. 28, 2007 -- One Great Game (Atria, paperback 2005; hardback 2003) chronicled a modern high school football national championship game that took place in 2001, but the repercussions aren't over yet.

The long tail of a remarkable sporting event continues with the announcement by USA Football that the two schools involved, Long Beach Poly and Concord De La Salle, each have the most players in the NFL this season--six.

*Of the 12 players, 7 played with or against each other in that one "great game," which tested the marketability of televised high school football to a national audience. Today high school games are routinely screened coast-to-coast.

*The odds are this may have been the greatest number of potential pros on a high school field at one time for a non-all-star game. (In addition to the 7, at least one other player in the game has played an NFL season.)

*Two of the stars of the game have endured setbacks and hardships that scouts and fans could never have predicted.

The quarterback of the winning team, Matt Gutierrez, never lost a high school game during four years as a starter at De La Salle. He went to Michigan, where he never started a game or played a significant role. Yet this year he is a member of the New England Patriots, backing up all-pro Tom Brady--whose uncle was Gutierrez's high school principal.

The star of the Poly team, Hershel Dennis, was part of USC's shared national championship team but suffered two knee injuries in succeeding seasons. After the NCAA granted an almost unprecedented sixth year due to hardship, Dennis is a senior at USC and one of a half-dozen all-star tailbacks. This season he has carried 4 times for 15 yards.

*Long Beach Poly, also credited with having the most NFL players from any high school, was selected California's "School of the Century" in 2000 for overall excellence.

*De La Salle owns the record for most consecutive victories by any football team at any level: 151. It was broken by Bellevue High School on Sept. 4, 2004.

Contact: Don Wallace at


Two High Schools Share Lead for Most NFL Players; California Leads All States; Miami Tops Hometowns

USA Football Staff
Two California high schools –– De La Salle in Concord and Long Beach Polytechnic in Long Beach -- top the list of high schools with the most 2007 NFL players with six each.

The totals are based on the 1,693-man 2007 NFL Kickoff Weekend rosters (September 6, 9-10).

NFL players from Kickoff rosters hail from 1,384 high schools in 48 states and the District of Columbia, three foreign countries and one U.S. territory (American Samoa).

Two high schools –– DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Maryland and Dillard in Fort Lauderdale, Florida –– had five players apiece on Kickoff rosters.

De La Salle, Dillard and Long Beach Poly have traditionally been among the annual leaders in NFL alumni. This is the first time that DeMatha Catholic has had players in the top two positions since 1998, when NFL high school rosters were first computed.

The NFL players from the most productive schools have fond memories of their high school days, and respect for how the schools’’ football programs are run:

•• JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS QB QUINN GRAY (Dillard): ““The big thing about going to Dillard was the tradition. It started back when my dad was a coach there from 1979-90. He started a real tradition as far as winning football games and excellence in the classroom. It was a pleasure to go to the school and be a member of the football team at Dillard. You had guys like ISAAC BRUCE, CHRIS GAMBLE and people like that who played there. The tradition continues because you have guys coming out of there now going to college and then to the NFL. They will continue to do that.””

•• CLEVELAND BROWNS LB WILLIE MC GINEST (Long Beach Poly): ““Long Beach Poly means a lot to me. The school is a melting pot of ethnicity, and you not only got a great education, but you also learned about life. The coaches and administrators made sure you focused on your schoolwork. It is not a surprise to me that so many people who went to Poly have gone on to do great things. They prepare you for the next phase of your life.””

•• NEW YORK GIANTS WR AMANI TOOMER (De La Salle): ““The thing I learned from high school football was the focus it takes to be successful. We had a very successful run at De La Salle and what I remember most about it was that everybody was really focused about playing every week. It was just a good feeling that you knew the guy next to you was going to try his hardest to be the best and you could trust him. The other thing that was great was working with a coaching staff that consisted of really good people -- people who really wanted you to do well. It’’s just a good feeling to have their support and have people behind you who want to get the best out of you.””

•• PHILADELPHIA EAGLES RB BRIAN WESTBROOK (DeMatha): ““My high school coach (WILLIAM MC GREGOR II, the 2004 NFL High School Coach of the Year) continues to be an inspiration and source of support for me.””


High School, Town, State Number NFL Players
De La Salle, Concord, CA 6 Matt Gutierrez, NE; Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX; Derek Landri, JAX; Amani Toomer, NYG; Demetrius Williams, BLT; D.J. Williams, DEN
Long Beach Polytechnic, Long Beach, CA 6 Winston Justice, PHI; Marcedes Lewis, JAX; Willie McGinest, CLV; Samie Parker, KC; Pago Togafau, PHI; Manuel Wright, NYG

Two high schools have five players each:

High School, Town, State Number NFL Players
DeMatha Catholic, Hyattsville, MD 5 Jacob Bender, NYJ; Quinn Ojinnaka, ATL; John Owens, NO; Brian Westbrook, PHI; Josh Wilson, SEA
Dillard, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 5 Isaac Bruce, SL; Chris Gamble, CAR; Quinn Gray, JAX; Jovan Haye, TB; Stanley McClover, CAR

Sixteen high schools have four players each in the NFL this year. Twenty-nine high schools boast three NFLers, while 185 schools have two players:

High School, Town, State Number
Angleton, Angelton, TX 4
Aplington-Parkersburg, Parkersburg, IA 4
Blanche Ely, Pompano Beach, FL 4
Crenshaw, Los Angeles, CA 4
Deep Creek, Chesapeake, VA 4
Glades Central, Belle Glade, FL 4
Glenville, Cleveland, OH 4
Hazelwood East, St. Louis, MO 4
Lower Richland, Hopkins, SC 4
Miami, Miami, FL 4
Miami Beach, Miami Beach, FL 4
Norland, Miami, FL 4
Provine, Jackson, MS 4
Ruston, Ruston, LA 4
Tustin, Tustin, CA 4

HOME STATES: California topped the list of states with most NFL players in 2007 (209), followed by Texas (184) and Florida (178):

State NFL Players State NFL Players
California 209 Virginia 53
Texas 184 Alabama 51
Florida 178 Michigan 49
Ohio 92 Pennsylvania 49
Georgia 77 Illinois 43
Louisiana 71 Mississippi 43
South Carolina 53 North Carolina 43

HOMETOWNS: Miami, Florida heads the list of hometowns with the most NFL players (37), followed by Houston (32), Detroit, Los Angeles and San Diego (13 each).

Subject: Long Beach Poly boasts six former players in the NFL
Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2007 11:30:49 -0700 (PDT)

Long Beach Poly boasts six former players in the NFL

School is tied with Concord De La Salle among high schools nationally with the most representatives in the pro league, according to a report by USA Football.

By Lauren Peterson
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

September 28 2007

Perennial high school football powerhouses Long Beach Poly and Concord De La Salle are making an impact on the sport that reaches well beyond the prep level, according to figures released Thursday by USA Football, the sport's national governing body.

The complete article can be viewed at:,1,3872346.story?coll=la-headlines-sports

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nude Beach in Central California

The big question is, how do you tell these guys that this is a Family Beach and they're, like, you know, ruining it for those of us who don't have, like, perfectly carved washboard abs and buns of steel?

In the case of the Salty Blogger, all we could do was lift our shirt and give them a dose of their own medicine. Not pretty, but at some point you just have to draw a line in the sand--even at a nude beach.

We'll let you guess (if this photo ever returns to its previous state of living color) who won this little showdown.

Location: Central California north of Cambria. January 7, 2007.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Los Coyotes Diagonal at the Olive Pit

This is the Olive Pit, where our house band sets up and hosts musicians and sessions. It has been going since 1964! Most of the equipment you see here is of more recent vintage, but we still have a few tube amps, etc. Only now, instead of an 8-track reel to reel recorder, my brother Alex has a computerized mixing board and records digitally.

One of the many lineups to play here is Los Coyotes Diagonal, which is me, Alex, Carlos Cooper, Ana Ipanema and Sean "Rocketman" Wallace, our 16-year-old Swedish Death Metal speed guitarist (who, however, would let it be known is against any and all "mindless shredding"). As soon as I can figure out how to upload an audio clip, I will.

We will be releasing our own CD soon, whether or not the world is ready for such songs as "I Soiled Myself," "She Carries the Gene," and "Black Widows in the Mexican Room." All original, by the way.

I've been trying to write a Yachting Song that will come up to the standards of "My Captain" by Grand Funk Railroad but the rest of the band keeps laughing at me.