Four Long Beach teams made the CIF Southern Section playoffs and found out where they’ll play this week, with the release of the CIF-SS postseason brackets on Sunday.
Long Beach Poly (8-2) is the Moore League champion and will host Trinity League at-large entry JSerra (7-3) at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Friday at 7:30 p.m., in a game that will be televised on Fox Sports.
“It’s what we thought, we’ll face a tough private school,” said Poly coach Antonio Pierce. “We’re looking forward to it.”
The Jackrabbits lost to Serra 24-20 on Friday, but Pierce said he was happy for the wakeup call.
“Even with the bad taste in our mouth, hopefully that gets us hungry,” he said. “You get a false sense of reality in the Moore League and our guys needed the wakeup. To be at home on TV in the playoffs, that’s what these seniors wanted and that’s what we got.”
Long Beach Poly is led by quarterback Matt Corral, who is 118 for 189 (62.4%) for 2,200 yards and 25 touchdowns, with five interceptions. Corral has spread the ball around this year, as nine receivers have at least one score. The top targets have been Cam McDonald (8 TDs) and Darius Kryger (8 TDs) followed by Jalen Hall (5 TDs).
Wiley Purry (82 tackles) and Jermayne Lole (68 tackles) lead an opportunistic defense which shut out Serra in the second half last week. The Jackrabbis also have 11 interceptions this year.
If Poly wins, it would face the winner of Mater Dei and Vista Murrieta. The top-seeded Monarchs lost their coin flip with Poly, so if the Jackrabbits and Mater Dei both win, that quarterfinal game would be in Long Beach next week.
Wilson will have its hands full with the San Gabriel Valley League champion Paramount Pirates (9-1), who are seeded No. 2 in the Division 5 bracket. The Bruins travel to Paramount on Friday.
“We’re going to have to play our A-game,” said Wilson coach Mark Ziegenhagen. “This will give us the postseason experience this young team needs. These kids are coming into their own.”
Wilson (5-5) got into the playoffs as the Moore League’s third seed after a final-week win over Compton, in a nailbiter. Wilson made a semifinal run last year but moved up to Division 5 this year.
The Bruins are led by sophomore quarterback Ryan Pettway, who has thrown for 923 yards and seven touchdowns, as well as running back Ian Issa, who has 776 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground this year.
Senior Antonio Narez leads the defense with 81 tackles.
History will be made at DeHaven Stadium on Friday as Millikan (8-2) hosts Northview (7-3)—it’s the first home playoff game for Millikan in more than 30 years, since the Rams’ 1986 campaign. That season was also the last time Millikan had an 8-2 record in the regular season, as they did this year.
Millikan head coach Justin Utupo was happy his team got to make history.
"Our boys deserved it," Utupo said. "They've been playing really hard all season long and getting the chance to play the first round game at home is huge. Having home field advantage is going to be big time for us.”
Utupo took over a 1-9 team and turned them into an 8-2 squad in one offseason, during which they got no premier transfers and in fact lost their starting quarterback via transfer to Downey.
The Rams are hosting the two-seed from the Valley Vista League. Sophomore quarterback Qeanu Campbell-Caldwell leads Millikan with 2,108 yards passing and 25 touchdowns, while also throwing 13 interceptions. Malik Bradford has been his top target with 30 catches for 600 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Nik Lombardi has a team-leading 84 tackles this year while Jason Skinner is averaging a team-high 8.9 tackles per game, with a team-leading 20 tackles for a loss.
St. Anthony (7-3) is trying to defend last year’s CIF-SS title, their first in 70 years. They’ll open at home against Norwalk (7-3) after an up-and-down season that saw them defend their Santa Fe League championship; the Lancers are the three-seed from the Suburban League. Saints coach Mario Morales said his team is primed for another run.
“We’re ready to go for the playoffs,” he said. “We’re up to the challenge.”
The Saints sustained some injuries this year and have most of their team back together for the postseason.
“Fingers crossed, we have to get healthy,” said Morales. “Everyone’s in the same boat this time of year.”
St. Anthony is led by Deshaun Harvey, the QB with 895 yards passing and 563 yards rushing with 12 total touchdowns. On defense Noah Nieto leads the team with 88 tackles.
Long Beach Poly vs. JSerra (Veterans Memorial Stadium)
Paramount vs. Wilson
Millikan vs. Northview
St. Anthony vs. Norwalk