Long Beach Poly.
An ominous task considering the Jackrabbits entered the CIF Southern
Section Division I championship game averaging 41 points and 385.2 yards
But for four quarters, Grady's squad met the challenge.
Long Beach Poly's only regulation touchdown came as a result of a
blocked punt, the Cubs forced three Jackrabbit turnovers and held them 67
yards below their season average.
But sometimes even the best defenses can't do it all.
Because as impressive as Loyola's effort was to limit Long Beach
Poly's big-play ability, the Cubs didn't receive much support from their
offense, which wound up being their biggest obstacle.
"I was getting frustrated because they were just so fast and they knew
our offense so well," said Loyola quarterback Matt Ware, who finished
with 53 yards passing and only 19 yards rushing in 17 carries.
"We had that game, but they took it away."
Indeed, Grady's squad did. The Cubs led, 10-7, with 1:12 remaining in
regulation, but watched the Jackrabbits march 59 yards in 66 seconds,
with the help of a tipped pass that resulted in a 37-yard completion.
"If we knock that pass down, then they probably don't have a chance at
the [game-tying] field goal," Grady said. "They were out of timeouts and
we kept pressure on them, but they managed to make the plays when they
Something Long beach Poly has been doing for many years.
The Jackrabbits earned their third Division I title in the past four
seasons -- including a co-championship with Mater Dei in 1999 -- and
their 14th overall, a CIF Southern Section record.
But Loyola did nothing to tarnish its tradition as one of the elite
programs in the state.
Sure, the pain will take a while to subside. But the Cubs will be back
in 2001, once again searching for their fifth CIF title.
And as always, Grady's defense will be asked to lead them to it.