The Central Section will get another chance to defeat one of America's most storied high school football programs, as Central Section Division I champion
Clovis North (Fresno)
will travel to face Long Beach Poly
Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Earlier this season, Bakersfield (9-3) trekked to Veterans Memorial Stadium at Long Beach City College and stuck a 29-6 loss on Poly that moved the Jackrabbits to 1-3. Since then, Poly (11-3) has won 10 straight and the Southern Section's Pac-5 Division title, and it will have the home field advantage in the Division I CIF Southern California Regional Bowl Championship, as the game is at Veterans Stadium.
Clovis North (12-1) will look to ride the section's momentum that was provided by Washington (Fresno), last season's Division III state bowl champ. But to keep that momentum going, the Broncos will have to beat Poly in its own backyard.
The Broncos' sole loss this season was to local rival Clovis, 38-33. Aside from that game, they have wins over Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinalist Buhach Colony (Atwater) and Southern Section Northern Division semifinalist Atascadero, plus the 27-10 section title game triumph over Central (Fresno), which finished 11-3. They had waxed Central by a 50-7 count earlier in the season.
Poly's 1-3 start saw it lose to SoCal Open Division entrant Narbonne (Harbor City) by a 56-0 score, and to SoCal Division II entrant Serra (Gardena) by a 20-12 count. After ripping through the Moore League like it usually does, Poly then embarked on an epic run through the Southern Section's biggest bracket, dispatching Bishop Amat (LA Puente) 40-25, then-nationally ranked Mission Viejo 21-16, then-national No. 1 St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 13-10
and Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 35-17
Clovis North's offense runs through senior quarterback Christian Rossi
(6-foot-3, 220 pounds) and sophomore running back Bolu Olorunfunmi
. Rossi was efficient at 14 of 18 for 174 yards and two scores, and Olorunfunmi romped for 108 yards on the ground, according to the Fresno Bee
Coach Cory Hall, a former NFL safety,
told the Fresno Bee
"Christian's really good at dissecting. He goes to the line
like Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, making the right checks. He has
nice feet and (an) arm. I stand firm: He's the best quarterback in the
Poly's offense runs behind a solid offensive line and its senior
two-headed monster in the rushing attack. Washington State commit Gerard Wicks
has 188 carries for 1,334 yards and 17 touchdowns, while Manusamoa Luuga
has rushed 171 times for 1,219 yards and 12 scores. Luuga romped for 132 yards on 13 tries in the title game.
But the defenses were the stars for these teams in their title game victories. The Broncos outgained Central 263-22 and didn't allow a first down in the section title game win, according to the Fresno Bee, and in the end they only yielded three first downs. One of the touchdowns was set up by a lost fumble on the 1-yard line. They average 18.5 points per game allowed.
Poly stuffed Mater Dei to the tune of minus-14 rushing yards, and held St. John Bosco to a field goal (the touchdown was an interception return) the week before. The jackrabbits allow an average of 16.9 points per game and have done a stellar job of grabbing takeaways from opponents.
"Our defense played awesome today. We were freakin' messing it up for them, like
giving them a short field and they still couldn't get a first down in fourth quarter," Poly coach Raul Lara said.In the Freeman Rankings
, Clovis North is ranked No. 17 in the state and Poly is No. 2.
This will be Clovis North's first foray into the state playoff system, while Poly made it to the Open Division game in 2008, losing 25-20 to Grant (Sacramento).Watch more videos of Long Beach Poly football