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Long Beach Poly Girls Win Nike Flag Football Challenge, Playoffs Up Next – The562.org

Mike Guardabascio

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management.

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.

The historic Long Beach Poly girls’ flag football team is already in the record books for being the first girls’ football team in the city, and one of the first in the State. Last weekend at the College football Playoffs, they made a little more history by bringing home the first trophy of the sport’s infancy in California. The Jackrabbits participated in the Nike/CFP Girls’ Flag Football Challenge and brought home the top prize after winning several individual events to compile the highest team score.

“Nike, the Rams and the Chargers have been great in supporting this program and pushing it to the forefront and bringing a lot of exposure to it,” said Poly co-head coach Rob Shock, who is also the Jackrabbits’ boys’ athletic director. “It’s on a bullet train for notoriety, it’s climbing very quickly. With it being an official CIF sport next year it’s going to blow up. With the NFL supporting it we’re hoping we’ll see more college institute it for their young ladies and keep the support going.”

Poly’s team was the first locally but others are already hiring coaches and beginning recruitment and practice for next year when the sport will debut across the city, region, and state at the CIF level. With Poly’s deep history in the sport as California’s all-time wins leader, a 20-time CIF-SS champion, and the most NFL alums of any school in the country, it’s only appropriate that they got a jump on the competition, and that they’re already bringing home hardware.

The Nike/CFP Girls’ Flag Football Challenge was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center as part of the festivities surrounding the NCAA championship game, hosted at Sofi Stadium in Los Angeles. Poly was one of eight teams competing and the Jackrabbits saw some of their standouts from throughout the season excel.

Quarterback Lauren Zwerner won the long toss competition, Misha Hebert won the sprint competition, Aniah Wilson won the shuttle competition, and the Jackrabbits dominated the team tug of war despite missing their top lineman, Jendell Moe. 

“The girls’ performed really well, we were happy to come home with the trophy,” said Shock.

Next up for the Jackrabbits is the playoffs, which will be held at Redondo Union on Jan. 29. They were originally scheduled for before the holidays but were rained out, necessitating the move. The Jackrabbits and the host Sea Hawks both enter the playoffs at 8-0 and will be the favorites to bring home the League of Champions Super Bowl trophy, with reps from Nike and both of SoCal’s NFL teams on hand.

The Jackrabbits are co-coached by Shock and by Poly football head coach Stephen Barbee, who both volunteered to coach the team this year to help get it off the ground.

“We both know a lot of the kids and you can’t say no when you’re asked to help out with something like this,” said Shock.

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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