Video: Long Beach Poly 2017 previewJackrabbits will be loaded at the varsity level this fall.Long Beach Poly (Calif.)
football coach Antonio Pierce had only one reaction.
"It's sad," the former NFL player and Super Bowl champion told the Long Beach Press-Telegram
. "I don't have another word for it. It's sad."
And a little shocking.
The Jackrabbits, one of the most recognized football programs in America, will not field a junior varsity team this season for the first time in its 110-year history.
The reason: not enough players.
It's somewhat consistent with a small but steady national and regional trend of decrease in football players — 2.5 percent at national level and 3.0 in California. But according to Pierce, the Jackrabbits had 130 freshmen come out for the program six years ago. This year, fewer than 40 freshmen tried out for the frosh-soph team.
Known for its massive teams by California standards, Poly averaged about 200 players a year in its program, according to the Press-Telegram. This season it's just more than half that amount.
For years, the school has laid claim to producing more NFL players
than any high school in the nation with more than 60, including DeSean
Jackson, Willie McGinest, Marcedes Lewis and Winston Justice.
Still blessed with loads of talent, the Poly varsity is preseason No. 10 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 presented by the National Guard.