The Long Beach Jackrabbits Football Team

The Long Beach Polytechnic High School football team ranks among the best in the nation. Producer Desmond Ortega visits the Long Beach "Jackrabbits," and sends this postcard.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Fridays mean football at a lot of high schools around the country. The Long Beach Polytechnic Jackrabbits from right here in Southern California are considered one of the best teams in the country. People who follow high school football consistently rank them in the top 20. Producer Desmond Ortega(ph) dropped by a recent Jackrabbit practice session to see what makes them such a good team, and he sent us this audio postcard.

(Soundbite of football practice)

VINCENT JOSEPH(ph) (Long Beach Polytechnic Jackrabbits): My name's Vincent Joseph. I play corner-slash-receiver. Me being a defensive player, I like to go at the offense. So that makes the practice fun like a game type of--you know, game situation. So we're labeled as, you know, offenses vs. defense. And it brings out the best of us. You know, we just go at each other.

Unidentified Man #1: Get out there!

(Soundbite of football practice)

JOSEPH: If everybody plays together, if everybody just plays as a team, then we should win. You know, that's our philosophy. No arguments, no fighting, no nothing. That's my philosophy. That's the only philosophy I have.

Mr. HERMAN DAVIS(ph) (Coach, Long Beach Polytechnic Jackrabbits): Hey, next time you try to make a one-armed tackle, you're going to be grounded. That is not how you tackle. I don't know who taught you to do that.

Herman Davis. I coach defensive line. I've been coaching since '83. Sometimes I have to do the math. Twenty--that makes it--What?--22 years here at Poly? (Laughs)

(Soundbite of whistle)

Mr. DAVIS: All teams run the same plays, so I try to teach my kids how to read those plays and the things that are necessary to stop it. So basically my philosophy is stop the ball. You know, that ball cannot move.

(Soundbite of football practice)

Mr. KELVIN KENNEDY(ph) (Alumnus, Long Beach Polytechnic): My name is Kelvin Kennedy. I'm an alumni here. I graduated in the class of '72. Been following the program for years. Generally there's always a format; once we get to the playoffs, we usually run up against the better teams in Orange County, and that's where the rubber meets the road. That's where we know what we really have, when we meet those high-caliber teams. And we also have a secret weapon this year.

(Soundbite of football practice)

Unidentified Man #2: Let's go! Go! Let's go! Let's go! Let's go! Let's go. Come on, move, move.

Mr. RAUL LARA (Coach, Long Beach Polytechnic Jackrabbits): My name is Raul Lara. I'm the head football coach here at Long Beach Poly High School. I've been coaching for 16 years. This is my fifth year as a head coach. As a coach, you're always worried. You're never satisfied until you go out there on Friday nights and they're kind of doing it in the real game situation, then you will kind of figure out what's going on. We'll find out what we're really all about, and hopefully we're going to be a very, very good football team.

(Soundbite of football practice)

BRAND: The sounds of the Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits hard at work on the practice field. That audio postcard from producer Desmond Ortega.

(Credits)

BRAND: And DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News and slate.com. I'm Madeleine Brand.

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