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Mater Dei ready to resume rivalry with LB Poly
LONG BEACH – Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson issued a challenge Monday to Long Beach Poly as the teams gathered at the annual news conference and luncheon for this week's CIF-Southern Section football championships.
It was a simple edict that seemed to be received in the respectful spirit that was intended.
After introducing his captains, Rollinson calmly concluded his remarks with a raspy challenge: "Let's go, Poly."
Long Beach Poly coach Raul Lara smiled as the crowded ballroom at The Grand erupted in laughter and applause.
Rollinson's message was clear: It's time for Mater Dei (11-2) and Long Beach Poly (10-3) to resume their storied playoff rivalry.
The revival commences Saturday night in the Pac-5 Division final at Angel Stadium at 7:30.
"What I really like is," Rollinson said later, "the programs respect each other."
Rollinson fondly recalled a trip the programs made a few years ago to Oregon for a passing tournament. The players took the same flight, stayed at the same hotel and enjoyed being around each other.
"Just watch whoever wins or loses at the end of the football game, there will be a lot of hugging between the teams. It's a respected rivalry, but at 7:37 (on Saturday), it's going to be full-tilt boogie."
Mater Dei is seeking its first CIF title since tying Long Beach Poly, 21-21, in the ’99 Division I final.
In 1998, Mater Dei and two-way star Matt Grootegoed beat Poly, 33-26, for the Division I crown. But in ’97, the Jackrabbits beat the Monarchs, 28-25, in another Division 1 finale.
Orange County also was represented Monday by coaches and players for Friday's 7:30 p.m. Southwest Division final between Edison (12-1) and Villa Park (12-1) and Saturday's 2 p.m. Southern Division final between Corona del Mar (11-2) and Garden Grove (11-2). Both games will be at Angel Stadium.
MATER DEI INJURY UPDATES
Rollinson said he feels "80 percent confident" that rising sophomore wide receiver/linebacker Ben Humphreys (shoulder) will play Saturday.
Backup quarterback Ryan McMahon is out after having surgery on his wrist but should be ready for baseball season, Rollinson said.
EDISON-VILLA PARK PART II
In early September, Edison defeated Villa Park, 27-7, in a new nonleague pairing between the schools. Spartans coach Dusan Ancich is excited to get a second chance at the Chargers.
"I'm actually glad we're playing for the second time because the first time, we weren't familiar with them," Ancich said. "To me, (the first game) is a positive even though we didn't win the game. At least we have some kind of background. I'm sure so do they."
Villa Park was missing five starters, some of whom play two ways, for the Sept. 6 game. Standout lineman Nick Whitton was among the injured.
"But that's not an excuse," Ancich said. "We lost the game fair and square."
Said Edison coach Dave White of the sequel, "It's always hard to beat somebody twice in the same season. They're a lot better. They had some injuries that first game. It will be a good game. ... I think when they (Villa Park) beat Tustin, they got everybody's attention."
Edison was represented at the lunch by captains DE/FB Derek Baljeu, RB/LB Elijah Herrera, QB Alek Torgersen and FB/DE Garrett Garcia.
QB ON THE RISE
Ancich said Villa Park's players consider their junior QB, Dylan Osborne, the most improved player on the team.
"I think he's one of the most improved guys in all of Orange County," Ancich said of Osborne, who has passed for 2,246 yards and 19 TDs.
"We pulled him the first game. We pulled him the second game. Right around game three or four, the light switch went on and he's gotten better each week."
HIGH EXPECTATIONS AT GROVE
Garden Grove coach Willy Puga said his squad expected to be in the Southern Division final against Corona del Mar. It's the Argonauts' third appearance in the Southern finals in the past four years.
"We had a lot of guys who played last year back and we stayed healthy," he said. "This is why I'm coaching at Garden Grove and why these guys play football at Garden Grove - to get to this game."
The Argonauts were represented Monday by DE/TE Josh Huff (6-2, 230), LB/FB Bryan Quexel (5-6, 200) and QB Angel Martinez (5-11, 140).
EX-COUNTY COACH IN FINALS
Former Pacifica and La Quinta coach Guy Gardner has Palos Verdes in the Northern Division final against Bay League rival West Torrance on Saturday. PV started the season 0-3 but has won 10 straight.
Gardner guided Pacifica to a CIF runner-up finish in 2007 against Cypress in the Southern Division.
He left Pacifica for Palos Verdes to be closer to his home in Redondo Beach.