Football Long Beach Poly

Football: Long Beach Poly Draws Los Al In Division 1 CIF-SS Playoffs

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 Long Beach Poly football team will play in one of the biggest games of the year in California, November 11 against Los Alamitos at Veterans Memorial Stadium in the Division 1 quarterfinals. The Jackrabbits were part of a ten-team Division 1 bracket, seeded No. 5. The top six teams will get a bye through the first round, with the Jackrabbits and Griffins both getting two weeks to prepare for their game a week from Friday.

It’s a marquee game for a Jackrabbits program that won the CIF-SS Division 4 title last year, then earned a No. 22 national ranking this year as they posted the program’s first undefeated regular season in 15 years.

“This feels good, we’ve felt for the past week or so that we’d be playing them, it’s really no surprise to us,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “They’re a great team. We’re excited to play them and rekindle this local rivalry.”

Barbee said when he took the job at Poly five years ago that there was something special about the program and the opportunity to coach it. While the team rightly celebrated its D4 title last year, beating St. Francis was not that “special” something he referred to five years back–games like a televised D1 quarterfinal against Los Al are.

“That’s why people want to be a part of this program, you want to play on the big stage in these big games,” he said. “Historically speaking it’s been a great rivalry, you look at the players and rosters now and it’s star-studded on both sides. It’s exciting to get to be in such a high-profile game with great players on both sides of the ball.”

A variety of Division 1 scenarios were bandied about in the media over the last week or two, including 12 and 16 team brackets that could have seen Poly playing this week, or seen them playing this week while Los Alamitos had a bye. The CIF-SS office’s bracket gives both teams an even playing field ranked No. 4 and 5, with what is practically a neutral site game since both teams play at Vets.

“It all shook out well,” said Barbee. “We knew we had no control over it so it was whatever CIF decided–we’re excited to be in the top tier and working towards Veterans Day at Veterans Stadium. All of Long Beach is showing up for that one–this is why as a young man growing up in Long Beach you want to come play at Poly.”

Both teams feature All-Americans and tons of Division 1 talent, and the game is sure to be televised and viewed as the top game in the state next week. The winner will almost certainly see Mater Dei in the Division 1 semifinals.

We’ll have much more on this game including previews, matchup breakdowns for both sides of the ball, features, and a ticket link in the next two weeks.

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.