Compton High School is beginning to build beyond moral victories, but after losing 20-3 against Moore League goliath Long Beach Poly Friday night, the Tarbabes are still fighting for second place.
Led by senior running back Johnny Toloumu, the Jackrabbits extended their league winning streak to 65 games. While Poly's margin of victory was wide, the game was close.
Compton opened the game with an impressive drive that ended with a fumble inside Poly's five yardline. After holding the Jackrabbits offense in check, Compton used its wing-t attack to march down the field on its second drive.
This time the Tarbabes would capitalize with a 28-yard field goal to take a three-point lead in the first quarter.
Poly would answer with the help of a pass interference call on the following series. The penalty extended a six play 50-yard drive capped off by Bryshon Nellum's leaping 13-yard touchdown reception over a defender. Poly would end the quarter ahead, 7-3.
Vulnerable between the tackles, the Jackrabbits would tighten its defense with a 5-2 front for the remainder of the game. Interesting, this change of scheme forced four-star cornerback Donovan Warren to act as the defense's free safety for most of the game.
"Well, I can play safety, but I don't know if that's what you would call it," laughed Warren. "We were playing a five-man front, 50-defense with three defensive backs, so I ended up playing the middle.
"I guess you could call it the free safety position. I actually like playing in the middle because I can make more tackles and see things better. Coverage wise, I liked it and I could see myself playing that position in the future."
Donovan Warren - Sr: Cornerback Donovan Warren played free safety for much of Friday night's game. And while Compton's offensive scheme didn't test Warren in coverage, it did test him in run support. True to his ranking, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound defensive back was aggressive and physical on the run. A quiet and confident leader, his speed in the open field is obvious.
Kenny Rowe - Sr:
Defensive end Kenny Rowe probably had the best game of any defender on the field. Compton didn't have much success running wide, and they had even less success running wide to Rowe's side. With his brother on hand watching, Rowe overwhelmed the Tarbabes line on several occasions. When Compton started to have success up the guy, Rowe countered by pinching inside and making the tackle. At 6-foot-3, 225-pounds, the four-star end really looks quick enough to be a four-star outside linebacker.
While Compton only threw three passes the whole game, the Tarbabes continued to have success pounding the football for much of the first half. Compton would end up rushing for 145-yards with senior tailback Anthony Wright getting most of the carries in the first half.
However, Poly's strength in numbers began to wear down Compton in the fourth quarter. Holding on to a 7-3 lead, linebacker Demetrice Parks would intercept a pass tipped by defensive end Kenny Rowe, who also has three tackles for losses.
Starting at the Compton 40-yardline, Gabriel Thomas would complete a long pass to Travionte Session down the right hash. Two plays later, Toloumu would score on a two-yard dive play with 9:44 to go in the fourth quarter.
Down 13-3, Compton would continue to fold with mental errors.
"The mind set coming into this game was to play physical football because they're a running team," said Warren. "We wanted to come in and smack them in the mouth from the first play, but it took us a while to get settled."
Poly's final score of the game came on a 30-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by senior defensive back Orlando Porter.
While Warren didn't score on the night, Friday's battle will help the Jackrabbits become a better team in the future.
"We're trying to get on track for the playoffs, and we know that everyone is going to have to contribute once the playoffs come around," said Warren. "You have to have depth in the playoffs and build that in league."
Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for exclusive interviews and video highlights from the game.