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Football Long Beach Poly

Football: Long Beach Poly in Division 2 Playoffs, Earns No. 2 Seed

The562’s coverage of football in 2023-24 is sponsored in part by the MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center Foundation and Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Foundation

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly is sponsored by Bryson Financial.

Long Beach football fans had a burning question all Fall long–will Long Beach Poly end up in Division 1 or Division 2? That question was answered Sunday morning with the release of the CIF Southern Section playoff brackets, which have the Jackrabbits seeded No. 2 in Division 2, with a 9-1 record.

Poly will open at home on Friday at Veterans Memorial Stadium at 7pm against Vista Murrieta.

The Division 2 placement will surely divide Jackrabbits fans, some of whom are prideful and want to be in Division 1 in all sports, and some of whom look at powerhouses like St. John Bosco and Mater Dei and want to see Poly placed in a more competitive division.

For Poly coach Stephen Barbee, he’s done his best to block out all the projections and speculation.

“At one point we were five in the section,” he said. “All we’ve done is win. Going into the last week we were number seven and would have been in Division 1. We win our last game 56-14 and we drop three spots. It is what it is. It’s a very good bracket.”

Barbee pointed out his team played a schedule he thought would put them in Division 1.

“Our only loss is to Bishop Gorman, who some people have ranked No. 1 in the nation,” he said. “We played a state champion from Hawaii and two perennial top ten teams in the state in Mission Viejo and Serra. We did everything we could, the placement is out of our gasp.”

The CIF Southern Section office opted for an eight-team Division 1. That meant that Poly at No. 10 is the two-seed in Division 2, with Rancho Cucamonga seeded No. 1.

With only eight teams in Division 1, the Division 2 bracket is packed with talent and historic powers, with the Jackrabbits joined by Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Serra, Upland, Bishop Amat and others. It feels like an old school top divisional bracket, with great games in every round and a genuine question as to who will make the championship and win it. Barbee and Poly feel they’re in a good part of their team’s arc to start the playoffs.

“Our kids are healthy, they’re all excited to play this week,” he said. “They understand what’s in front of us.”

One downside of the new playoff format is less familiarity between opponents. Barbee acknowledged he didn’t know much about Vista Murrieta prior to the bracket draw being released.

“What do I know about them? They’re the Broncos, Michael Norman and Su’a Cravens went there, and they’re going to be at Vets on Friday,” he joked.

Click here for the entire Division 2 bracket.

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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.