WICKS CELEBRATES DEC. 1 WIN OVER MATER DEI
IT'S NOT THAT Long Beach Poly doesn't have a long-running track record of success on the gridiron. It's just that this season started out so abysmally that no one would have predicted where star back Gerard Wicks and his fellow Jackrabbits find themselves this week: Taking an 11-game winning streak into Friday's state title showdown with Granite Bay High out of Northern California.
Long Beach Poly started the season 1-3 and looked awful in the process, losing games in Weeks 3 and 4 by a combined score of 85-6.
And then the light went on, particularly with their running game, which includes some nifty wildcatting and direct snaps to the backs.
2013 COUGAR VERBALS
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Poly has reeled off 11-straight wins, capturing Southern Section and regional titles along the way, and now is poised for its first state crown since 2008.
They meet Granite Bay this Friday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson. Both teams are 12-3.
Poly's post-season run began in convincing fashion on Nov. 9 when Wicks rushed for 223 yards and two TDs as the Jackrabbits defeated Bishop Amat 40-25. Right after that win, Wicks spent the weekend at Wazzu on his official visit.
Then came a stunning, 21-16 upset of Mission Viejo, which came into the game undefeated and ranked No. 4 in the nation by the MaxPreps computer-based ratings system. Wicks ran for 76 yards and two TDs, and made a statement when he steamrolled Viejo's Max Redfield on one play. The bulldozing was head-turning for two reasons. First, Redfield is a four-star safety considered one of the top college prospects in California and widely believed to be headed to USC or Notre Dame in the fall. And second, Wicks is known more for speed and slash than brute power.
Following that big win, Poly defeated St. John Bosco, mighty Mater Dei and, last week, Clovis North out of Fresno.
In those three games, the 5-11, 190-pound Wicks rushed for a combined 280 yards and two TDs.
Those numbers pushed his season totals to 1,501 rushing yards and 19 TDs.
DON SASA: 1994 FIRST-TEAM ALL-PAC-10, 1995 3RD-ROUND NFL DRAFT PICK.
For insight into just how formidable Poly's offense is, consider that Wicks' partner in the backfield, fullback Manusamoa Luuga, has nearly identical stats as Wicks.
Wicks is rated 3 stars by Scout.com and ranked the No. 79 running back prospect in the nation in the 2013 recruiting class. He verbally committed to WSU in June.
Long Beach Poly has produced more NFL players than high school in the nation. Among those on the list is old Palouse Posse mainstay Don Sasa, who went on to play four seasons in the NFL, mostly with the Chargers, after making his mark at WSU.
In May 2002, Cougar head coach Mike Price set an unofficial WSU (and maybe even NCAA) record when he extended scholarship offers to seven players from the same school in one day. The school was Long Beach Poly.