Tonight will mark the 14th time in the illustrious history of these programs that they’ll meet. This time will be in the PAC-5 semifinals — a game that can be seen on FOX Sports West at 7 p.m.
To call these programs “playoff rivals,” as each of their head coaches likes to suggest, is accurate, especially considering they only meet in the postseason.
Long Beach Poly head coach Raul Lara recalls his days as the Jackrabbits’ defensive coordinator and remembers having a love for competing against Mater Dei offensive coordinator Dave Money.
“He challenged you on the defensive side,” Lara said of Money.
The creative nature of Money’s play calling gets the Jackrabbits coaching staff “fired up.” Understandably, they expect to see a wrinkle, or two from Money and the Mater Dei offense on Friday night. Mater Dei, on the other side, expects the same as well.
The last few CIF championships for Long Beach Poly have been predicated on the smash mouth, ground-and-pound style of the Jackrabbits.
The Monarchs, on the other hand, enter with a ground-and-pound game of their own. Over their last three games, they’re averaging 47.3 rushing attempts per game.
They torched Oaks Christian for 332 rushing yards in their 28-17 first-round win.
How do they expect to contend with a stout Poly defense?
“I was hoping for the fog to roll in again,” Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson quipped.
As for Lara, the heavy rushing attack of Mater Dei is nothing new. He recalls Matt Grootegoed’s 33 carries for 244 yards in the 1998 final that was, surprisingly, won by Mater Dei, 33-26. It snapped Poly’s 27-game win streak, cost them a shot at a national championship, and has been called one of the greatest games and individual performances in CIF history.
The Monarchs are averaging 218.3 rush yards per game over their last three.
“Looks like the older Mater Dei, that’s all,” Lara said.