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| A Major Threat

Long Beach Poly Is Hungry for Defense of Top Football Title


Long Beach Poly's football team intends to accomplish something that has not been done in 15 years.

No school has won consecutive Southern Section major division titles since Anaheim Servite in 1982 and '83. The last public school to win back-to-back championships was Huntington Beach Edison in 1979 and '80.

Poly, the defending Division I champion and winner of 24 consecutive games, continues its quest for a second straight title Friday night when the Jackrabbits play Huntington Beach in the first round of the playoffs. Championships will be awarded in 13 divisions this season, one more than in 1997.

"I think we want it even more because no team has repeated for a while," Poly quarterback Chris Lewis said. "It's about time."

The Huntington Beach matchup is an interesting one for Jackrabbit Coach Jerry Jaso, who lives in the Orange County city and whose son attends the school.

"They play good defense and they try to play smash-mouth football," Jaso said. "They try to hold onto the ball and keep the score down to beat you.

"They run well, but not like we do."

Few teams are as fast as Poly, which features defensive back Darrell Rideaux and wide receiver Kareem Kelly, the defending state champions in the 100 and 200 meters, respectively. Both players recently committed to USC.

Here is a look at the 13 divisions:


Long Beach Poly (10-0) is the favorite in a division that includes 10 teams with one loss or none. The Jackrabbits will not have an easy road if they defeat Huntington Beach (6-3-1). Up next: the winner of the game between Loyola (8-1-1) and Fontana A.B. Miller (9-1).

Second-seeded Los Alamitos (10-0), led by quarterback Ryan Hanson and wide receiver Keenan Howry, plays Lakewood (5-5). Senior linebacker/fullback Kevin Mitchell leads third-seeded Santa Ana Mater Dei (9-1) against Fountain Valley (7-3), which lost by one point to Los Alamitos and two points to Anaheim Esperanza. Senior running back Michael Wagner is the main threat for fourth-seeded La Puente Bishop Amat (9-0-1) against Redlands (7-3), which was battle-tested in Citrus Belt League play against A.B. Miller, Fontana and Rialto Eisenhower.


Chino (10-0), winner of Division IV last season, is the top-seeded team and takes a 23-game winning streak into its game against Downey (5-5).

Second-seeded Diamond Bar (9-1) would seem to be getting a break against Mira Costa (6-4), but Mira Costa won the Division IX title last year and comes out of a very competitive Bay League. Running back Adimchinobe Echamandu leads third-seeded Hawthorne (8-2), the Bay League champion, against Glendora (2-8). Fourth-seeded Palos Verdes Peninsula (8-2), the defending Division II champion, finished second to Hawthorne in the Bay League. The Panthers open against Upland (5-5).


Quarterback Kyle Boller has passed for 3,711 yards and 46 touchdowns for top-seeded Newhall Hart (8-2), which plays Highland (3-7).

Golden League champion Littlerock (10-0) is the second-seeded team and plays Encino Crespi (5-5). Third-seeded Arcadia (8-2), led by running back Quincy Williams, plays Saugus (3-7) and fourth-seeded Mission Hills Alemany (7-3), coached by former UCLA quarterback Jim Bonds, plays Pasadena (4-5-1).


Quarterback Nick Czernek, who has passed for 2,675 yards, leads top-seeded Newbury Park (7-2) against Ventura (4-5-1) in a division that includes five teams with losing records. Second-seeded Arroyo Grande (7-2), last season's Division III champions, plays Channel Islands (1-8-1). Third-seeded Thousand Oaks (5-4-1) meets Lompoc (5-5) and fourth-seeded Hueneme (5-4-1) plays Righetti (4-6).


Mt. Baldy League champion Alta Loma (9-1) is the top-seeded team and plays Murrieta Valley (5-5) in its opener.

Second-seeded Riverside J.W. North (8-2) plays Corona Centennial (3-7), third-seeded Jurupa Valley (9-1), led by senior wingback Kendall Edwards, plays Riverside Poly (3-7) and fourth-seeded Corona (8-2) meets Riverside Arlington (6-4).


Irvine Woodbridge (9-0-1) and Irvine (8-1-1) of the Sea View League are seeded first and second, respectively. Santa Magarita (7-3), the two-time Division V champion, is seeded third, Villa Park (4-5-1) fourth.


Hacienda Heights Los Altos (8-1) displaced neighbor Wilson as the top team in its division. The Conquerors open against Whittier La Serna (5-4). Almont League champion Bell Gardens (9-1) is second, Covina Charter Oak (6-2-1) is third and El Monte Arroyo (8-2) is fourth.


Sunkist League champion Temescal Canyon (9-1) is the top-seeded team. Second-seeded Cathedral City (9-1) features running back Royce Boone, who has gained 1,827 yards and No. 3 San Bernardino Pacific (8-2) has running back Joe Weber, who has rushed for 1,927 yards. Brawley (8-2) is the fourth-seeded team.


Running back Mike Lemon, who has gained 1,761 yards, leads top-seeded La Mirada (10-0). Brea Olinda (9-1), La Verne Bonita (9-1), Garden Grove Pacifica (7-3) are the other seeded teams.


Running back Akil Harris has gained 1,757 yards for top-seeded Monrovia (9-0), which played in the Division IX final last season. Ocean League champion West Torrance (8-1-1) is No. 2, Morro Bay (7-3) No. 3 and Santa Ynez (8-2) is fourth.


Top-seeded Orange Lutheran (8-1) is led by running back Oscar Meza, who has gained 1,260 yards and scored 26 touchdowns. Ventura St. Bonaventure (7-3) is the second-seeded team, Cerritos Valley Christian (7-3) is third and Playa del Rey St. Bernard (6-3) fourth.


Lancaster Paraclete (9-1), the Division XI champion last season, is the top-seeded team. Riverside Notre Dame (9-0-1), surprising Salesian (8-2) and Cathedral (9-1) are also seeded.


Top-seeded Boron (10-0) recorded five shutouts. Brentwood (7-2) is second seeded, Ambassador Christian (8-2) is third, Linfield (7-2) fourth.

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