Playoff pain and heartbreak

Ouch.

One week you’re riding high, covering three local high school football teams marching through the playoffs, the next week you’re… working 20 hours a day on basketball and soccer previews because the Fall season ended unceremoniously.

That describes our situation after Long Beach Poly, Wilson and Lakewood were all knocked out in the Southern Section’s quarterfinal round last Friday.

Poly lost to Rancho Cucamonga on the road in a Fox Sports game that saw the Jackrabbits outgain the Cougars by more than 100 yards but come up short in a 21-7 defeat.

Wilson lost in one of those games that makes you realize how little high school sports really matter in the grand scheme of things, but also how much they do. The Bruins were on the road at West Ranch, a school in the same district as Saugus High, where a deadly shooting had taken place the day before the game.

That night’s football game was the first big event in the area since the shooting and West Ranch came out with the Saugus High flag waving in front of them, with #SaugusStrong banners everywhere and a wild and raucous student section.

Wilson ended up losing, 57-56, when West Ranch went for two and got it to take the lead with a minute and a half left in the game. The Bruins had another chance at it but a potential game-winning field goal went awry.

As sportswriters who cover kids almost exclusively, you end up developing a lot of connections with the people you cover. Especially when it’s a historic team with championship aspirations, like Wilson. There’s nothing harder than seeing a group of kids you enjoyed covering heartbroken, except, of course, there are harder things than that. It’s hard not to be heartbroken alongside the Wilson kids, and it’s hard to not be happy for the West Ranch and Saugus kids who got to celebrate that night.

Game of the Week

With all the football, volleyball and water polo teams done for the year, there are only two teams left in the fall: the Long Beach Poly and Wilson boys’ cross country teams which advanced out of last week’s prelims to run in this Saturday’s CIF Southern Section Cross Country Finals.

The Finals are being held in Riverside and we’ve been asked by several people if we’re going to cover the early morning race.

Well, last week we were in Bakersfield, Chatsworth, Valencia and Rancho Cucamonga covering Long Beach teams, so… no. We’re going to skip this drive, but good luck to the Jackrabbits and Bruins as they try to advance to State (that’s in Clovis Thanksgiving weekend, wouldn’t bet on a drive up there, either).

Rachel Glenn

The most fun part about covering high school sports is when kids sign scholarships to play at the next level. Championships are great, exciting games are, too, but those things exist at every level of sports. There’s something really unique about high school sports, though, watching kids compete and then sit down a few days later to sign a scholarship that could change the future for their family.

One of our favorite kids in Long Beach, two-time CIF State champion track superstar Rachel Glenn, had a Signing Day celebration Tuesday afternoon at Wilson, narrowing down a list of offers that included Texas, UCLA, Oregon and others to announce that she’s signing with South Carolina. Congratulations to Rachel and her family.

Winter Is Here

The winter high school sports season is upon us, which means we’re leaving behind football and volleyball for basketball and soccer. We’ve got previews for all the winter sports going up this week at the562.org, and we’ll take a look at some of the top storylines in next week’s column for the Post.

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Mike and JJ go together like mac and cheese: they’re best friends, business partners and Long Beach sports experts. They’ve been working together for over a decade covering Long Beach local sports and now run the562.org, a community-funded nonprofit media outlet.
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