Mater Dei, Poly renew rivalry

Manusamoa Luuga of Long Beach Poly, shown in 2011 vs. Santa Margarita, welcomes a renewed rivalry with Mater Dei. Tom Mendoza / For ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- No one expected either of them to be here, but here they are.

After opening the season by losing three of its first four contests, Long Beach Poly (10-3) flipped the script in dramatic fashion, rallying as a team and returning to old-school Jackrabbit football in time to grind out nine straight victories.

Mater Dei (11-2) didn't even make the playoffs a year ago -- the first time that had happened since 1986 -- but having refocused their attention in the offseason, the new-look Monarchs have peaked in the playoffs, thanks to a swarming defense and a balanced offensive attack.