Long Beach Poly football coach Stephen Barbee had a good time celebrating his team’s overtime thriller against Orange Lutheran last week in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs–for about thirty seconds. As his team was still celebrating with their fans on the field at Veterans Memorial Stadium, Barbee was getting updates on their quarterfinal opponent.
To nobody’s surprise, the winner on the other side of the bracket was Rancho Cucamonga–the Jackrabbits (8-3) will travel to face the Cougars (8-3) on Friday at 7 p.m.
“They’re really good, they have the best quarterback we’ve faced all year obviously,” said Barbee. “We’ve got to get pressure up front and keep their receivers contained.”
The Cougars are led by CJ Stroud, the winner of the Elite 11 and an All-American signal-caller who’s expected to commit to Ohio State. Stroud has thrown for 3,458 yards and 45 touchdowns this year, leading a juggernaut Cougars offense that relies on multiple formations with seemingly endless shifts to throw defenses off.
“They do a good job of spreading the field out and making it easy for him to read,” said Barbee.
The Cougars also have something Poly does not: experience. Rancho Cucamonga’s best players, including Stroud and receivers Jayden Dixon-Veal and Silas Bolden are all seniors.
The Jackrabbits’ young team got a big boost from last week’s win over Orange Lutheran, and are hungry for Friday’s test against the Cougars.
“Our guys are fired up, they’ll be ready,” said Barbee.
The game will be live streamed on Fox Sports’ Prep Zone app.