LONG BEACH, Calif — Former NFL linebacker Antonio Pierce is now in his fourth season as the head coach at Long Beach Poly High School, home to Florida QB commit Matt Corral.
This is Corral’s first year with the Jackrabbits and they’re off to a 7-1 start, with the latest win coming Friday in a 81-0 shutout against Jordan. Corral threw for 320 yards and 5 touchdowns in the first half.
“I thought Matt was good,” Pierce told SEC Country after the homecoming win. “New coordinator, new quarterback, new receivers, it takes a while to gel but I think these last couple weeks have helped us out.”
Corral was one of a few offseason transfers for the Jackrabbits, who also added 5-star wide receiver Jalen Hall to their team. After a 7-4 record last season, Corral & Co. have helped turn Long Beach Poly into a 2017 playoff contender.
“He wants to be the best in everything he does,” Pierce said when asked what stands out most about Corral. “If completions, if it’s stats, if it’s how he plays, if it’s how he handles a situation — just everything. He’s always trying to push the needle up there. He has that competitive drive.”
Long Beach Poly averaged 16.3 points per game through the first three weeks of the season and lost to Mission Viejo, 12-7. Since then, the Jackrabbits have averaged 54.2 PPG and outscored opponents 271-10 in the last five games.
“We’re trying to work on our timing with the receivers and get that ball out there as fast as we can from Matt,” Pierce said. “Obviously we’ve got a lot of talent around him. The quicker and the better they keep gelling and with the continuity, the further we’ll go in the playoffs.
“Everybody has a better feel for one another and understands the offense. You want to have that confidence, right? You want to make plays. You want to score points. You want to get in the end zone. That’s what we’re doing and it makes it fun.”
Following his senior season, Corral will enroll early at Florida and hopes to compete for playing time as a true freshman. Pierce expects the Elite 11 finalist to elevate his game in college.
“The sky is the limit for Matt,” said Pierce, who played nine seasons in the NFL. “He has to study the game. He has to become a better student of the game as far as understanding blitz coverages and knowing his hot reads, but that will come with time and as he gets coached up at the next level.”