Football Long Beach Poly

PREVIEW: Long Beach Poly at Upland, CIF-SS Football Quarterfinal

Long Beach Poly hits the road this evening for a CIF Southern Section Division 4 quarterfinal, as they visit Upland at 7 p.m. The Jackrabbits are trying to advance to their first semifinal game since 2014, and if they succeed they’ll host the winner of Bonia/Cypress at Veterans Memorial Stadium next week.

“Upland is well-coached, they make big plays and play good defense, and they can change momentum on special teams,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “We’re going to need great line play on both sides of the ball to execute our gameplan. That’s something we did for the most part last week, and we need to be consistent. We’re trying to practice that way because we know we’re going to need to be ready on Friday.”

The Jackrabbits put up a complete performance in their playoff opener against Trabuco Hills last week, leading 56-13 after three quarters. The top-seeded Jackrabbits face a tougher test in 7-5 Upland this week, especially for their offense. Poly got whatever they wanted offensively last week, with Devin Samples rushing for four touchdowns and QB Shea Kuykendall throwing for four.

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This Highlanders team plays a stingy, physical defense with a lot of size up front. They held St. Paul to 13 points last week and in their seven wins average less than 10 points per game given up to their opponent. Bishop Blakely and Vincent Maculoso have been leading the way for Upland–they both have 90+ tackles on the season with 10 tackles for a loss each.

If Poly can handle the Highlanders big front, it will give them options for how to attack. If not, they’ll need to air it out and hope that Kuykendall’s connection with Jason Robinson Jr. and Tyson Bordeaux remains sharp.

Defensively, it’s another week where the Jackrabbits will focus on the run. Upland is a 2-1 run to pass ratio with 380 carries on the season to 168 passes. QB Sean York is only completing 50% of his passes this year and has eight touchdowns to six interceptions.

What Upland wants to do is pound the rock, with an old school power attack that also features some fly sweeps and other misdirection. The workhorse has been Richard Allen, who has 205 carries and nearly 1,000 yards on the season.

If Poly can shut down Upland’s rushing attack and force them to throw, the Jackrabbits defensive backs could have a big game.

Fans making the trip and looking for tickets will need to buy them digitally, which can be done at this link. No tickets will be sold at the door.


Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.