2019 Loyola Spring Football Preview

Could the buzz surrounding Loyola football this spring be a harbinger of a dramatic upward trend for a program that has played in 12 CIF Southern Section Division I title games, won a National Championship, finished as the number two ranked team in the nation, had ten grid standouts acclaimed CIF Large Schools Player-of-the-Year, appeared in the state top-ten rankings with regularity, sent hundreds of players to the collegiate ranks and currently has multiple former players competing in the National Football League? Based on the 2019 squad's work to date, an affirmative answer could be coming in August. 

New head coach DREW CASANI ‘91, himself a former Loyola star (as an inside linebacker in 1990, he was named the CIF Southern Section Div. I Defensive Player-of-the-Year after the Cubs won their fourth of six D-I crowns), has brought palpable new energy and assembled an impressive staff of assistant coaches to aid in his reconstruction project which is focused on returning Loyola to its historical place among the top prep programs in the Golden State.

While depth is an issue, there appear to be enough pieces to the puzzle-some of which may prove to be priceless-for the 2019 Cubs to surprise the cognoscenti of the prep football world this fall. For that to happen, several components of Casani’s inaugural squad must perform at markedly improved levels. 

The unit most in need of upgrade is the offensive line, where things are trending in a positive direction. The defensive backfield was another position group which needed to raise the bar, and new secondary coach JERRY PHILLIPS has done an excellent job of ratcheting up the level of play of the defensive backs.   

The platoon which stands out as potentially elite is the wide receiver corps, which is coached by the PAC-12’s (Washington State) all-time leading pass catcher, GABE MARKS. First-year offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach MATTHEW HATCHETTE has the offense looking polished and fluid.

Senior TOMMY HATTON (6-1, 201) has made huge strides at the quarterback position. In addition to his strong arm and accuracy, Hatton brings Important intangibles to his game, the most noteworthy of which are leadership skills.

Hatton has a veritable wealth of riches in a group of exceptionally talented wide receivers. The Co-MVPs of last fall’s Mission League champion freshman team, JACOBY “CO” KELLY (6-1, 174) and PETE VANIS (5-10, 166) will form a sophomore receiving duo that will be hard to match by any sophomore pair in the Southland. Suffice to say, each is a brilliant receiver, and both possess a rare level of athleticism. Kelly just received his first major scholarship offer from Florida Atlantic University. It is believed he is the first Loyola player to be offered a scholarship as a freshman. Junior CEYAIR WRIGHT (6-0, 173) is a burner (10.84 100m and 20.74 200m this spring) who will see most of his playing time in the secondary, but will also strike fear into opposing defensive backfields whenever he lines up on the offensive side of the ball. Junior ALEX GIRALDO (5-10, 165) is another wide receiver with great hands who consistently gets behind the defense with sizzling speed. He missed his sophomore year because of injury, but his prodigious talent will combine with that of the other receivers to form a great group. Senior MICHAEL JONES (5-11, 170) is also coming on strong. 

Tight ends coach JORGE TORRES ‘99 has a pair of good ones. Senior BRENDAN PERNECKY (6-3, 241) is a gifted athlete who will also be targeted with success. Sophomore tight end JOE TAYLOR (6-2, 185) is fast and tough. 

Last season’s freshman team was one of the school’s all-time best. The squad fielded uncommon talent in virtually every position group. The two prime time ball carriers for the freshman title team were HARRISON ALLEN (5-9, 175) and TAHJ OWENS (5-9, 174). Both are fast, dynamic running backs, whose varsity debuts are expected to draw rave reviews. Running backs coach JOE VIVO ‘96 is looking forward to big production from that talented pair. 

The position group, under the tutelage of coaches RICK PEDROARIAS ‘84 and JOE MURRAY ‘78, which must perform at a significantly higher level this season is the offensive line, which brings back three seniors who started multiple games last season. The veterans are guard SAM DOMINGUEZ (6-2, 247), center NICK ANDERSON (6-0, 257) and tackle SHANE STROYKE (6-4, 304). Sophomore SAM YOON (6-4, 231) is currently the leader in the competition for the left tackle post. Senior HUNTER SAMUELSON  (6-4, 258) is making a run at left guard.

The defense, under the direction of defensive coordinator MIKE GILHOOLY ‘88, has a chance to be much improved. Two players who bring real mean streaks and leadership qualities to the ‘Wolfpack’ are senior outside linebacker CARTER LINK (6-1, 208) and senior inside linebacker STEVEN ARELLANO (5-11, 215). Both are hitters who set the tone, and each brings real passion and leadership qualities to the Cub stop unit. Senior DOMINIC BELISLE (6-1, 191) is a very athletic outside linebacker with ball hawking skills. He has been heralded as one of the most improved returnees. Senior inside linebacker NIKKO GONZALEZ (6-2, 210) is expected to contribute to the sound of thunder in the box.

Defensive line coaches ELIC MAHONE and CHRISTIAN GASCOU ‘93 are happy with the progress thus far of a group of rugged athletes in the trenches. Senior defensive tackle BARRET KELLY (6-1, 226) is the strongest member of the team-he lifts well over 1,400 pounds combined in the power clean, bench press, squat and dead lift. In addition to his impressive strength, Kelly is cat quick. Another weight room warrior who will wreak havoc on the defensive front is senior nose guard MARIANO UY (5-9, 226).  There is competition for the other tackle position. SAM DOMINGUEZ could see double duty, but junior HENRY KENNEDY (6-2, 242) possesses an impressive skill set.

Leading the way in the secondary at the corners are juniors CEYAIR WRIGHT and junior ZAKHARI SPEARS (6-3, 182). Wright currently has nine scholarship offers from FBS programs (Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, Cal, Illinois, Nevada. Ole Miss, Oregon and Utah). Spears has two offers thus far (Arizona State and Utah). You can bet those two will cover like blankets. Also in the mix at corner are senior EVAN THOMAS  (5-11, 170) and TAHJ OWENS.

The safety positions will be manned by a trio of hard-nosed, focused seniors, BLAKE NEITHART (5-9, 172), CHAD BAILEY (5-11, 182) and FINN O’ROURKE (5-11, 178).

Senior DIEGO BURGOS (5-11, 185) will handle the kicking duties.

In terms of preparation going into spring competition this Loyola team is way ahead of recent squads. That is in large measure the result of the voluntary practices that Casani instituted in January.

Things are looking up in Cubville. If the leaders continue to demand maximum effort from their teammates, and the weight room work ratchets up to the next level, Loyola just may surprise this fall.

Loyola spring practice underway - Loyola Gridiron Vanguard to host Barbecue on May 23

First year Loyola varsity head football coach Drew Casani welcomed a large contingent of Cub grid aspirants and returning veterans to the practice field on May 6, marking the official start of preparations for the 2019 Loyola football campaign.

There is a lot of positive energy surrounding the program, and a great deal of teaching is going on by some very positive, talented coaches. Casani ‘91, the 1990 CIF Southern Section Div. I Defensive Player-of-the-Year, exudes enthusiastic confidence, which is likely a harbinger of good things to come. The winter work outs and voluntary practices have propelled the Cub learning curve to a point where most of the team has learned and feels comfortable with the new playbook.

There are some impressive athletes who will represent Loyola this fall. More information on the expected key contributors will be forthcoming as spring practice progresses.

JOIN THE CUBS FOR A POST-SPRING BARBECUE ON MAY 23
Circle May 23 on your calendar. At 5:30 pm on the afternoon of May 23, the Loyola Gridiron Vanguard will host a barbecue on campus after the final spring practice. 

New varsity head coach Drew Casani makes four great staff hires

LOYOLA’S FIRST YEAR VARSITY HEAD COACH MAKES TREMENDOUS ASSISTANT COACH HIRES 

A legendary player in the hallowed annals of Cub Football, 1990 CIF Div. I Southern Section Defensive Player-of-the-Year Drew Casani has gotten off to a fast start in his role as the new leader of the program.

As the new head coach is working furiously to reestablish the winning ways and championship legacy of Loyola's football program, among the things Casani has accomplished in very short order is the hiring of four dynamic assistant coaches who bring stellar experience and impressive credentials to the varsity staff.

Here is a brief thumbnail sketch of each of the new Cub assistants who will assist at the varsity level:

MATTHEW HATCHETTE, Varsity Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks

Matthew Hatchette knows the game of football. A strong armed Ohio high school signal caller, Hatchette transitioned to the wide receiver position at Langston University, where his receiving exploits led him to be drafted by the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings in 1997. After a four year tenure at Minnesota, Hatchette played for the New York Jets, Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Following his retirement from pro football the lure of the gridiron was still in his blood. For the past ten years he has coordinated the offenses at multiple schools, including big name programs such as L.B.Poly, Orange Lutheran and Calabasas. He also coordinated the offense at Pierce College.

Aside from his football avocation, Hatchette is a successful movie producer and actor.

Coach “Hatch” does not try to fit square pegs into round holes. His offenses are built around the type of athletes he has on hand, so you will see an attack that features the strengths of the personnel. He is a top flight quarterback tutor. One of Hatchette's most recent protégés is the starting signal caller at Ole Miss.

Coach Hatch is doing a lot of detailed teaching during voluntary team activities as the squad prepares for Spring Practice in May. It is clear that his pupils are fully engaged.

JERRY PHILLIPS, Varsity Secondary

New varsity secondary coach Jerry Phillips brings 12 years of impressive training and coaching experience to his job as the man in charge of the Cub secondary. Last fall, Phillips served as the Defensive Coordinator at Village Christian in Sun Valley. He held the same post at La Verne Damien in 2016-2017. Phillips was a defensive coach at Crespi Carmelite in 2014-2015 and was the Defensive Coordinator at Palisades in 2013. Phillips did an initial tour of duty as the secondary coach at Crespi in 2011-2012.

Phillips earned the high honor of being selected as a USA Army All-American all star game coach in 2015. He began his football training business, Game Prep Academy Training, in 2008. Among the players he has trained are 2015 Loyola MVP Myles Bryant, who is currently a star defensive back at the University of Washington, and 2015 Cub All-American David Long ‘16, who will be entering the NFL draft in April after an All-Big 10 career at the University of Michigan. Phillips also trained USC defensive back Marvell Tell, a Crespi alumnus, who is expected to be a high NFL draft pick this Spring.

Phillips played collegiate football at Pittsburg State, and is a graduate of John Muir High School in Pasadena.

The Cubs will be big time ball hawks under Phillips’ direction.

GABE MARKS, Varsity Wide Receivers

After obtaining spectacular results from a highly gifted group of freshman wide receivers who helped lead the 2018 Loyola freshman team to the Mission League championship during a campaign in which the squad averaged 46 points per contest, Gabe Marks has been promoted to the varsity level to coach the wide receivers.

Marks has an unbelievable resume. He is the Pac-12 Conference’s all-time receptions leader. He caught 316 passes during his career at Washington State. He is also the Cougars’ all-time receiving TD leader (37) and all-time receiving yards (3,453 yards) leader.

Bottom line, Marks will teach the detailed nuances of the wide receiver positions, and the results will be special.

Before his brilliant career on the Palouse, Marks was a star wide receiver at Venice High School. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Pepperdine University.

ELIC MAHONE, Defensive Line

A graduate of USC where he played for Trojan football teams that won the 1990 Rose Bowl game and the 1994 Cotton Bowl, Elic Mahone brings extensive playing and coaching experience to his new position as a defensive line coach for the Cubs. After his graduation from USC with a degree in Public Policy/Urban Development, Mahone played defensive end for the NFL's Washington Redskins for three seasons.

Beginning in 2005, Mahone answered the call to coach the sport he loves. He has provided his defensive prowess to his alma mater, John Muir High School of Pasadena, Pasadena Maranatha, and most recently Village Christian. He has taught at many prominent football camps across the country and was a highly regarded coach in the well respected Pasadena Trojans youth football organization. He was recently selected to coach an elite 7-on-7 travel team that competes throughout the Southland region.

Mahone is a licensed appraiser who manages the Western region that conducts commercial valuations for Wells Fargo Bank. Married with two children, Coach El enjoys restoring his Craftsman-style Pasadena home and classic car in his spare time.
 
The Cubs' new D-line mentor is excited to coach Loyola's defensive line and said he is committed to helping bring back the glory days of Cub Football. No doubt, the players under Mahone's direction will bring the wood. 

Loyola hires Drew Casani '91 as its Varsity Head Football Coach

Loyola hires legendary former Cub star Drew Casani to lead its football program

Shortly after Loyola won the 1990 CIF Southern Section Division I championship, it was written:

"The moment, more than any other, that defined Loyola's fourth CIF Major Division Football Championship season, that capsulized and characterized the spirit and strength of the 1990 Cubs, came late in the first quarter of the Division I title game at Anaheim Stadium on December 7. CIF Southern Section Defensive Player-of-the-Year, team captain, team leader and as tough an inside linebacker as you will ever see, DREW CASANI, fractured his leg. And he continued to play. To play for three more grueling quarters . . . for the pride, for the tradition, for the championship, for the Loyola Cubs."

On Monday, Loyola announced that Casani has been hired to take over the reins of the Cub Football program as Varsity Head Coach.

There is no question that Casani is a leader of men, as was exemplified by his heroic performance in the CIF title game at Anaheim Stadium 28 years ago, and which accorded him legendary status in the hallowed pantheon of star players in Loyola's storied football history. 

The game of football has been a central focus of Casani's life ever since his playing days as a Cub came to an end on that December weekend in 1990. He continued his grid career as a walk-on linebacker at Arizona State University until a back injury ended his playing days. Casani concluded his collegiate studies at Loyola Marymount University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in Business Management.

In his first foray into coaching, Casani served as the defensive coordinator for undefeated Loyola sophomore league championship teams in 1995 and 1996. The head coach of those squads was GEORGE PATON '87, the Cub MVP in 1986 and now the assistant General Manager of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings.

Following his inaugural coaching stint at his prep alma mater, Casani moved to the professional ranks where he served in various capacities for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, holding the titles of College Scouting Assistant, Player Personnel Assistant and Assistant to Director of Player Personnel/Draft Coordinator. Following his tenure with the 49ers, Casani worked with the St. Louis Rams as the organization's West Coast Area College Scout, a job that entailed the demanding task of evaluating over 500 college prospects every year in preparation for the NFL draft. Casani served as Loyola's varsity defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2008, in between his stints with the 49ers and Rams.

After a brief time in the business world, the lure of football called yet again. Casani was hired as UCLA's Director of Scouting in 2017, a job in which he oversaw the Bruins' Scouting Department, which was charged with the task of identifying and evaluating potential prep recruits. Following the departure of UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora after the 2017 season, Casani was called to duty once gain at Loyola in 2018. He served as the varsity's inside linebackers coach and College Recruiting Coordinator.

Casani's wealth of experience at the high school, collegiate and NFL levels, especially in the area of player evaluation, will be a significant asset in his role as the leader of Cub Football. The former Cub star describes his new job as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

While he immensely values the lessons he learned as a former player and coach under legendary Loyola head man STEVE GRADY (1976-2004, record :269-77-6), Casani acknowledges that the game has changed in many respects, as have the young men who compete, since his days as a player and young coach. It is noteworthy that Grady, one of Casani's most valued and esteemed mentors, earned CIF Southern Section AAAA Player-of-the-Year honors in 1962 as a tailback for the Cubs' undefeated CIF AAAA title team. Could that ironic coincidence be a predictor of successes to come under Casani's tutelage? Legions of Loyola supporters hope it will. Indeed Casani understands first hand what it takes to build - and sustain - a championship football program.

The charismatic Casani will be sure to focus on the heart of every player as he knows first hand that team building is as important as any aspect of coaching. Optimism abounds that Casani will lead the Cubs back to their status among California's all-time great football programs.

Casani has hit the ground running. His primary, immediate task is hiring a highly qualified offensive coordinator. He is very close to making a decision on some impressive candidates.

Casani loves Loyola. That is a perfect emotion with which to commence his exciting new undertaking.

New Year, New Leader.

CUB FOOTBALL WILL HAVE NEW LEADER IN 2019
Shortly before the Christmas break Loyola varsity head football coach Rick Pedroarias ‘84 announced that he would be stepping down as the man in charge of Cub Football after two seasons at the helm of the program, citing health and family reasons. It is anticipated that the school will name its new head coach within the next week. Coach Pedroarias is expected to continue working as a varsity line coach. 

NFL NEWS INVOLVING LOYOLA GRID GRADS
COLEMAN SHELTON ‘13, an All-Serra League lineman for the Cubs, had a superlative career at the University of Washington where he earned All-PAC 12 honors as a three year starter at multiple positions on the offensive line, ended up becoming a member of the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad after beginning his pro career with the San Francisco 49ers. It was just announced that Shelton has signed on to the Cardinals’ team roster . . . ANTHONY BARR ‘10 was selected to a fourth consecutive Pro Bowl as an outside linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings. The 6-5, 255 lb. All-Pro was the Serra League Offensive Player of the Year at Loyola and went on to earn first team All-American honors at UCLA in addition to winning the Lott Award as college football’s top defensive player . . . CHRIS CONTE ‘07, was having another strong campaign for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before an injury ended his eighth NFL season prematurely . . . DAVID LONG ‘16, an Army All-American, All-State and All-CIF Division I corner at Loyola, has decided to leave the University of Michigan early for the NFL after an All-Big 12 season at Michigan. Long started for the Wolverines in their bowl game against Florida. He is projected as among the best college corners in the upcoming NFL draft . . . There is speculation that former Cub All-State corner MYLES BRYANT ‘16, who has had a brilliant career at the University of Washington as a starting nickel corner may also pursue his NFL dreams after a stellar junior campaign. Bryant had a standout defensive performance for the Huskies in their 28-23 loss to Ohio State in Tuesday’s Rose Bowl . . . It is expected that STEFAN FLINTOFT ‘14, UCLA’s starting punter, could make an NFL roster this summer along with fifth-year starting USC offensive guard CHRIS BROWN ‘14, who was an All-State and All-CIF road grader for the Loyola . . . NICO EVANS ‘14, an All-CIF running back for the Cubs, will be playing in a senior all-star game on January 19 after an All-Mountan West campaign, in which he rushed for 1,325 yards in 2018 for the Wyoming Cowboys

Loyola could have as many as eight former players on NFL rosters as soon as next fall.

Loyola loses final 2018 contest, but there was no shame in the game for hard fighting Cubs

LOYOLA FIGHTS TO END IN CLOSE LOSS TO SERRA IN SEASON FINALE THAT FELT MORE LIKE A BEGINNING THAN AN END
Loyola’s varsity football team concluded a season marked predominantly by futility and disappointment on a cool, foggy evening in Gardena on Friday, falling to Serra, 21-14, in both teams’ final conference game.

Ironically, the effort put forth by the Cubs in their season finale had the feel of a beginning rather than an ending. For the first time since its season opening victory over outmanned Fairfax, Loyola found the offensive rhythm and production that had eluded it for eight consecutive, frustrating weeks.

It was the type of effort that gave reason for optimism. Unfortunately, there will be no further opportunities to compete for the 2018 Cub contingent. But the squad can hold its head high as it went out fighting rather than retreating against a talented opponent that was desperately trying to keep its playoff hopes alive.

Turnovers that have dogged Loyola throughout the campaign, a touchdown that was called back on a controversial official’s call, a questionable pass interference penalty against the Cubs on a fourth down play in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, and the Big Blue’s inability to recover a perfectly executed onside kick after the Cavaliers’ last TD, all contributed to the loss in a contest that was there for Loyola’s taking.

The Cub ‘Wolfpack’ defense forced Serra to punt on three of the Cavaliers’ six first half possessions, held Serra on downs on another possession and forced a kneel down with seconds left before halftime on the home team’s sixth possession before the break. The Cavaliers scored their lone touchdown before intermission on a short run with 4:25 remaining in the first quarter to cap a 55-yard drive. 

Two plays may have proved the ultimate difference in the outcome of the contest for Loyola. After mounting an impressive drive late in the second quarter which covered 65 yards a Cub fumble at Serra’s 12 yard line extinguished a critical scoring opportunity. The second fateful play came in the second quarter when Loyola senior running back HUNTER BALLARD caught a short pass in the right flat, collided with and ran over a Cavalier defender and raced 32 yards for an apparent touchdown. While the Cub sideline erupted in jubilation, the officiating crew huddled for what felt like an interminable amount of time. In a “can you believe this?” call, not only was the epic catch and run called back, but Loyola was assessed a 15-yard penalty for targeting. The officials ruled that as Ballard lowered his head after the catch, he targeted the head of the defender who tried in vain to make the tackle. That call was one for Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not.” In a word, unbelievable. Ballard’s nullified catch and run came just after a 40-yard sprint by senior running back SPEED FRY VI.

At the 7:47 mark of the third quarter Serra’s running back bolted up the middle for a TD to cap an 86-yard drive. The Big Blue was undaunted. Ballard, whose muddy uniform evidenced his player-of-the-game effort-he also started at corner-caught a contested 25-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback NATHAN PRIESTLEY with 11:51 left in the game. Senior kicker NICHOLAS BARR-MIRA’s PAT kick drew the Cubs to within 7 points, making the score 14-7 in favor of the Cavaliers. Serra answered in short order with a 15-yard TD spint on the ensuing possession to up its lead to 21-7 at the 7:54 mark of the fourth quarter.

Loyola refused to fold. Priestley threw a 29-yard TD strike to junior tight end BRENDAN PERNECKY, who made a spectacular catch, with 4:59 left in the final stanza. Barr-Mira’s kick made the score 21-14. The Cubs elected to try an onside kick following its score. A perfectly executed bouncer by BARR-Mira was up for grabs for what seemed like an eternity, but Loyola was unable to corral the ball.

It appeared that the Cubs would have one last chance to start a potential game winning drive with over a minute to play. The Cavaliers faced a fourth down-and-14 situation when it’s 6’ 5” quarterback threw a well defended pass into the end zone. A delayed flag was thrown for pass interference, once again straining credulity. Serra thereafter ran out the clock and, in turn, Loyola’s most disappointing season since 1972.

The Cubs played with impressive resolve in the loss. And, yes, it felt like a beginning for Loyola, but unfortunately there are no games left to play for a team that could have thrown in the towel but refused to do so.

Loyola plays final game of season tonight at Garden Serra - Will it be redemption or swan song for Cubs?

Loyola's varsity football team will travel to Gardena Serra (4-5, 1-3) tonight to take on a frustrated Serra squad in a game that has desperation written all over it for both schools. For the Cavaliers, a win would keep them alive for possible inclusion in the CIF Division 1 playoff field which will be announced by the Southern Section on Sunday. For the Cubs, a victory would provide a modicum of redemption for a squad that has struggled since its season opening win over Fairfax. A win also would keep Loyola out of the Mission League cellar and end what has been a grim campaign for the Big Blue on a high note. 

Both squads need a triumph in the worst way. The Cavaliers are their usual athletically gifted selves, but bad circumstances, including injuries, have conspired to force Serra, considered a conference title contender before the season, to veer off course. In league, the Cavaliers were shut down by Notre Dame (28-7), Bishop Amat (35-14) and Chaminade (45-28). In non-conference play Serra fell by a point (27-26) to L. A. City Section champion favorite Narbonne and lost to San Diego Section contender Cathedral Catholic (43-21). The Cavaliers notched wins over San Mateo Serra (41-22) of the CIF Central Coast Section, L.B. Poly (29-25), and Cathedral of Los Angeles (21-19) in their other non-league battles and defeated Alemany (26-15) in their lone conference victory.

The Cubs are in a word, reeling, after suffering a 41-7 blowout loss to rival Bishop Amat at home last Friday. Loyola (1-8, 0-4) has been beaten in its four conference defeats by an average score of 33-8. The biggest shortcoming afflicting the Cubs this year has been their inability to generate offense. Serra has a porous defense. The Cavs have relinquished an average of 35 points in four conference contests. On the offensive side, Serra has only scored an average of 19 points per outing in the Mission League.

The key to defeating the Cavaliers is slowing down 6' 5", 200 lb. junior quarterback Doug Brumfield, who has thrown for 2,714 yards and 20 TDs at a 61% completion clip on the season to date.

No doubt, Loyola will hold nothing back in its final contest of 2018 tonight. An upset of Serra is possible, and while it wouldn't make the season a success, it certainly would conclude it on a redemptive note.

Cubs in college update, Loyola grads to watch on TV tonight and tomorrow
Former Loyola linebacker, TEDDY GALLAGHER '16, who played on the 2015 Cubs' squad that finished the season with a 9-3 record and ranked 17th in the state, is playing linebacker for Coastal Carolina of the Sun Belt Conference. Gallagher had a breakout game against UMass last week with a forced fumble, a sack, and a game-saving tackle, earning him a captaincy for the Chanticleers' game against Georgia State on Saturday (11:00 a.m. PDT an ESPN 3). Gallagher is the first Loyola graduate to play for Coastal Carolina.

NICO EVANS '14, an All-CIF tailback for the Cubs in 2013, leads the University of Wyoming with 803 yards (6.6 yards per carry) on the season to date. The Cowboys' game tonight against Colorado State will be televised on CBSSN.

You can watch a number of former Loyola stars tomorrow. UCLA (starting punter STEFAN FLINTOFT '14) plays Utah tonight at 7:30. TV: ESPN.

Washington (starting nickel MYLES BRYANT '16) plays Cal tomorrow at 3:30. TV: FS1.

USC (starting DE CHRISTIAN RECTOR '15 (Defensive MVP), starting offensive guard CHRIS BROWN '14 (All-CIF/All-State) hosts Arizona State tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. TV: ESPN2.

LOYOLA OPEN HOUSE ON SUNDAY FROM 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M.
Please encourage all prospective students and their families that you know to attend Loyola's annual Open House this Sunday, October 28. The Open House is from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Loyola bombed by Amat, has shot to end campaign on high note

CUBS DRUBBED BY BISHOP AMAT ON SENIOR NIGHT, BUT HAVE CHANCE TO END SEASON ON HIGH NOTE


As rivalry games typically go-where you throw out the records and disregard comparative scores-the Cubs did not get the script on Friday night on Smith Field when they hosted longtime nemesis Bishop Amat before a large crowd. The temperature was warm, but Loyola was not, as it dropped its eighth consecutive game, falling to the Mission League favorites, 41-7. The Lancers opened the game with an 80-yard drive, capped by a 12-yard Lancer run at the 6:06 mark of the first quarter. 

The Cubs’ first offensive possesssion ended in a punt. Loyola’s ensuing six possessions concluded as follows: punt, interception, punt, kneel down before halftime, punt, interception. Finally, with 6:17 remaining in the contest, the Cubs got on the board when senior captain NATHAN PRIESTLY hooked up with fellow senior captain HUNTER BALLARD on a five-yard swing pass to cap a 72-yard drive against the Amat reserves. Loyola was down 41-0 before the scoring drive began in the fourth quarter with the ignominy of a running clock.

The Lancers scored on each of their five first half possessions to take a commanding 35-0 lead heading into the break.

On the Cubs’ final possession senior JALEN McALPIN made a nice first down catch, but there was not enough time left with the running clock to put more Loyola points on the board before the clock hit 0:00.

Strong defensive performances for the Big Blue were turned in by senior defensive linemen MARCUS AGUILAR and SCOTT KASE, both of whom are team captains. Senior linebackers CHASE BRANIGAN and DAVID ANAWALT made some big hits as did junior linebacker STEVEN ARELLANO.

Entering the final week of what has ended up being a train wreck of a season there is hope for the Cubs as they prepare for their final contest against Serra in Gardena on Friday. The struggling Cavaliers were rocked by Chaminade on Friday, going down to the ascending Eagles in a 45-28 defeat, the same point differential by which Chaminade vanquished Loyola. Serra is 4-5 overall and 1-3 in conference competition.  A Cub victory over Serra would eliminate the Cavaliers from CIF DIV. 1 playoff consideration.

The best way for Loyola to approach its final contest would be to treat it as a playoff game. A victory would certainly wrap up the season on a high note.

MISSION LEAGUE CHAMPIONS! Loyola freshmen pummel Bishop Amat, win 2018 Mission League Championship

LOYOLA FRESHMEN ROUT BISHOP AMAT, CUBS WIN MISSION LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
On a hot afternoon that morphed into a warm early evening Thursday at Smith Field on the campus at Loyola, the Cub freshman football team dominated arch rival Bishop Amat in the much anticipated 2018 Mission League heavy weight title bout, and came away with a 44-20 victory which was not as close as the final score.

The beat down of the Lancers was the first freshman victory over Bishop Amat in a long, long time, and the manner in which Loyola dispatched its nemesis was particularly gratifying to a group of ninth grade Cub players who have a bright future down the road in Loyola's storied football program.

Much has been written about the standout star athletes who have made spectacular plays throughout the course of the season, but the untold story of the team's march to its first conference title in well over a decade can be found in players such as 5' 7", 150 lb. (both may be generous numbers) center/nose guard HENRY KUPIEC, who has battled against much bigger opponents all season, not only holding his own but winning most of his play-by-play match ups with many players who outweighed him by 100 pounds, and in some cases more than 150 pounds. 

Kupiec is one of many undersized players on a Cub squad that was just plain tougher and more physical than every team it has played during the course of its nine game campaign. Suffice to say the linemen on both sides of the ball are a big reason Loyola is wearing the championship crown. Then, there is the story of starting offensive guard WILLIAM BLAIR, a backup linebacker, who through sheer will and perseverance, seized a starting position and helped open holes and kept opposing pass rushers at bay so the stars could make their plays.

On Thursday the Cubs wasted no time getting on the board against the Lancers in front of a large crowd, including a number of Loyola alumni who came out to see the team for the first time in its league title showdown.  The Cubs drove 64 yards in four plays on their opening possession which was capped by a six-yard scoring pass from quarterback JOE TATUM to running back TAHJ OWENS. JACKSON SHEA's PAT kick put Loyola up 7-0 less than two minutes into the contest.

The Cub lead was extended to 14-0 at the 2:08 mark of the first quarter when Tatum hooked up with wide receiver PETE VANIS on a perfectly executed pass play. Loyola's 'Wolfpack' defense put forth its usual outstanding effort, highlighted by a goal line stand in the early seconds of the second stanza.

Cub running back HARRISON ALLEN, who had a monster day running the ball with over 200 rushing yards, sprinted through traffic for a 24-yard touchdown at the 8:17 mark of the second quarter to put Loyola up 20-0. The Lancers finally answered with a four-yard TD pass on a fourth-and-goal play with a minute left before halftime, making the score, Cubs 27, Bishop Amat 7. Starting the ensuing drive with just 49 seconds left on the clock, Loyola ran a perfectly executed hurry-up offense, which included a long double pass completion from Tatum to Vanis to JACOBY KELLY, that ended with another beautifully thrown 23-yard TD toss from Tatum to Vanis. For all intents and purposes that was the dagger that ended the Lancers' hope for a comeback. The Cubs entered the halftime break with what proved to be an insurmountable 27-7 lead.

After the 'Wolfpack' held Amat for the third time on a fourth down try, Loyola took over at its 21 yard line early in the third quarter. On the second play of the drive Tatum threw a short pass to Kelly, who sprinted 82 yards down the home team's sideline to make the score 34-7 in favor of the Cubs. Following yet another Lancer punt, Shea converted on a 19-yard field goal to extend the league champions' lead to 37-7 with 5:22 left in the third quarter.

The Lancers scored on a 55-yard pass play at the 3:46 mark of the third stanza, but missed the two point conversion attempt, making the score 37-13. Loyola answered in short order, driving 84 yards, capped by another TD toss from Tatum to Vanis, this one from 20 yards out to make the score 44-13. With 1:33 left in the game, Amat scored on a 20-yard pass, making the final score, 44-20 in favor of the Big Blue.

As the final seconds were counting down, Cub head coach LEVI LINE was drenched with a bucket of ice water by his jubilant squad. The post game revelry was filled with joy as the Loyola players and coaching staff soaked in the magnitude of their triumph. One of the most noteworthy positives of an incredible season is the special team chemistry that helped propel this Cub team to greatness.

It appears that the final league game against Gardena Serra will not be played as scheduled next Thursday because there reportedly are not enough eligible Cavalier freshmen available to field a team. It is not known whether Loyola will be able to find another opponent for a tenth game.

The Cub freshmen, through nine games, have maintained an average score of 46-15. That is believed to be an all-time freshman football school record.

Keeping up with Cubs in College Football - preview of Friday’s tilt - Loyola frosh play for title Thursday

Loyola alum David Long '16 leads Power-5 Conference Cornerbacks in fewest yards allowed
The University of Michigan is ranked sixth in the latest Associated Press College Football poll, and the Wolverines defense is the second best overall in the FBS after seven games.

Playing a major role on Michigan's suffocating defensive platoon is junior cornerback DAVID LONG ' 16. An Army All-American, first team All-State, and All-CIF Southern Section Division I defensive back at Loyola in 2015, Long, according to Pro Football Focus, leads the Power-5 Conference football teams in fewest yards allowed per coverage snaps at 0.15.

Former Cub star Myles Bryant '16 having another stellar year for the University of Washington
MYLES BRYANT '16 was Loyola's MVP in 2015. He starred as a wide receiver, corner and special teams standout for the Cubs. In his junior year at the University of Washington, Bryant is currently the Huskies' third leading tackler with 40 stops, including 25 solos. A Stratton’s nickel corner, Bryant is second on the squad in both passes broken up and sacks, and is third in tackles for loss.

Loyola grad Stefan Flintoft '14 is currently sixth in nation in punting average
UCLA's starting punter STEFAN FLINTOFT '14, a Ray Guy Award Finalist, currently holds the sixth best punting average (46.67 yards per punt) in major college football. He was a special teams star for the Cubs in 2013. Loyola has five graduates on UCLA's current football roster 

Cub grads getting it done for USC
REUBEN PETERS '14 was an All-League linebacker for Loyola in  2013. He walked on at USC where he was converted to fullback and earned a scholarship. As a fifth year senior Peters is back at his old linebacker post. He had six tackles last Saturday in the Trojans’ win over then undefeated Colorado.

Former Cub All-League defensive end CHRISTIAN RECTOR '15 is starting on the defensive line for USC, while CHRIS BROWN '14, an All-CIF lineman for Loyola in 2013, starts at offensive guard for the Trojans. There are six former Loyola players on USC's football roster.

Former Cub center TY MAHAR starts for Colby College
As a freshman, former Loyola center TY MAHAR '18, is the starting center at Colby College of the New England Small Colleges Athletic Conference. Mahar is one of 37 former Cub grads who are currently playing college football. Mahar is the first Loyola grad to compete at Colby, which is one of the nation's top rated liberal arts colleges.

Tolbert twins lead University of San Diego secondary
Twins DANIEL and DAVID TOLBERT '16, who were members of Loyola's incredibly talented 2015 team, rank first and sixth, respectively, in tackles as starting defensive backs for the University of San Diego. Daniel has recorded 38 stops, including 26 solos. He has broken up four passes for the Tereros and has one interception. David has 29 total tackles to his credit, including 22 solo stops. He has also broken up eight passes.

Former Cub star Nico Evans '14 leads Wyoming in rushing
Former All-CIF Cub running back NICO EVANS '14 is the University of Wyoming's leading rusher, despite missing two contests because of injury. Evans has amassed 634 rushing yards in five games (134 yards per game). He has scored four TDs. Evans’ longest run covered 75 yards. The former Loyola star running back is averaging an impressive 7.0 yards per carry for the Cowboys.

This week's varsity game:
Bishop Amat Lancers (7-1)

Amat, state’s ninth-ranked team, is balanced on offense, tough on defense and deep

A look at the Lancers
Steve Hagerty is in his eleventh season as the head coach at his alma mater, Bishop Amat, and might have one of his best squads this season.

The Lancers were ranked ninth in the state heading into last weekend’s lightning-delayed game against Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks, which was completed on Saturday with a decisive 28-14 Lancer triumph. Bishop Amat’s lofty ranking is well deserved. The Lancers (6-1) lost by just a point,21-20, to JSerra of the Trinity League. JSerra is ranked sixth in California. Amat lost its opener to defending national champion Mater Dei, but because the Monarchs used an ineligible player, the defeat became a forfeit victory. It remains at the number nine spot in this week's rankings.

The Lancer offense is led by savvy, veteran field general Blake Archuleta (6-2, 190). The senior QB had completed 64% of his passes for 1,140 yards, threw for ten TDs and just one interception heading into last week’s contest. His top targets are senior wide receivers Jaden Allen (5-10, 165, 23 receptions, 375 yds., 16.3 ypc) and Daniel Garcia (6-0, 155, 19 catches, 176 yards).

Amat’s balanced offense has a strong rushing component led by senior tailback Kenny Collins (5-9, 170). The speedster scored eight touchdowns and gained 615 yards in seven games with a 5.1 yards per carry average. He also is dangerous as a receiver out of the backfield. The depth laden Lancer offense rolls behind a big, powerful offensive line.

On the defensive side of the ball, Amat has players who wreak havoc. The big stopper is senior middle linebacker Fidel Cabral (5-10, 190). Through seven games Cabral was second on the squad with 51 tackles, including 38 solos. Senior defensive back Deven Jarvis is the tackle leader with 59 and also has a team-leading two interceptions. Junior outside linebacker Elijah Ponder (6-4, 195) had five sacks in seven games and defensive end Ethan Rodriguez (6-4, 225) had recorded 6.5 sacks.

Outlook
The Lancers pay a physical brand of football on both sides of the ball. To have a chance for an upset win the Cubs will have to match the Lancers’ physicality and corral Archuleta.  If they can't slow down Amat's veteran field general, it could be a long night. Loyola will also have to score points, which has proved difficult since game one. The Cubs probably have an advantage in the punting and kicking games. CalPreps' computer picks Amat to win 35-0. The Cubs have different ideas.

The series
The one league team that has historically had Loyola’s number is Bishop Amat. The teams first played in 1968, with the Pat Haden and J.K. McKay pass-catch combo leading the Lancers to a 29-13 win. One of the most exciting games in the series was played at Amat in 1997, when All-CIF Southern Section DL Michael Long made a critical stop on fourth-and-short late in the game to preserve a 3-0 Cub win. Loyola finished the season 12-1.

Huge game at Smith Field on Thursday as Loyola freshmen play for Mission League title
If you can take an early break from your work schedule on Thursday, the place to be is Smith Field at 4:00 p.m. as Loyola's outstanding freshman football team will take on longtime nemesis Bishop Amat, whose level of physicality has been unmatched by any of the Cubs' other eight opponents. It promises to be an exciting battle for the 2018 Mission League crown. Both squads are undefeated in conference competition.

No quit in Cubs as they fight to finish against Chaminade - Freshmen play for league title on Thursday

Loyola defense fights to the end, but Cubs do not generate enough offense to pull out win against Chaminade
On Friday in a Mission League tilt against Chaminade in West Hills, Loyola's 'Wolfpack' defense made some bone-jarring hits and a determined goal line stand-which along with a 58-yard scoring pass, was one of the Big Blue's biggest plays-on a night which brought thunder, lightning and some heavy downpours. The most positive takeaway for the Cubs from the 27-10 loss to the Eagles was the grittiness displayed by a team which could have slid into a deep funk after losing its first two conference games. Loyola came to play and battled to the end.

Chaminade connected on a short field goal less than three minutes into the contest. On Loyola's ensuing possession the Eagles intercepted a Cub pass. On a short field, Chaminade put a drive together which culminated in a 13-yard run for a touchdown. The PAT kick put the Eagles up 10-0 at the 7:00 mark of the first quarter.

Another interception on Loyola's first play from scrimmage ended the Cubs' second offensive possession. Just when it looked like the flood gates would open for Chaminade, junior outside linebacker BRENDAN PERNECKY recovered an Eagle fumble at the Loyola's 28 yard line. The Cubs failed to convert on a fourth-and-one play near midfield following the fumble recovery and Chaminade kicked another field goal less than a minute into the second quarter to give the Eagles a 13-0 lead.

Loyola returned the ensuing kickoff to its 28 yard line. Shortly after converting a first down, Loyola senior captain NATHAN PRIESTLY threw a perfectly executed screen pass to sophomore wide receiver CEYAIR WRIGHT who raced 58 yards for a touchdown at the 8:59 mark of the second quarter. NICHOLAS BARR-MIRA's extra point kick drew the Cubs within six points, but a one yard TD jaunt by Chaminade just over five minutes later made the score 20-7 in favor of the Eagles heading into the break.

Barr-Mira kicked a 44-yard field goal at the 7:58 mark of the third quarter, making the score 20-10. Chaminade scored another TD late in the third stanza to increase its lead to 27-10. The Eagles had a first-and-goal opportunity at the Loyola three yard line, but a ferocious never-say-die effort by the Cub 'Wolfpack' stuffed Chaminade on its fourth down scoring attempt at the one yard line.

The fourth quarter was scoreless, and the home squad came away with its first Mission League victory.

Loyola will host longtime archrival Bishop Amat on Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Smith Field. The Lancers soundly defeated Notre Dame, 28-14, in a lightning delayed game that was concluded on Saturday. Conference favorite Bishop Amat is 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the Mission League.  The Cubs need to keep on fighting. The contests against the Lancers are invariably hard fought by both teams.

Loyola freshmen will play for league title on Thursday after 42-16 demolition of Chaminade
The story line about the exploits of Loyola's talented freshman team has been focused on an explosive offense that is averaging 45 points per game going into the last two weeks of the season, but just as important to the success of the Cub yearlings has been a stalwart defensive unit that has relinquished an average of just 14 points per contest.

In the Cubs' 42-16 victory over Chaminade last Thursday in West Hills, Loyola's defensive prowess was exemplified with 24 seconds remaining before halftime when an Eagle player fumbled just short of Loyola's goal line. Cub corner RAMAN ENIGBOKAN picked up the loose ball and sprinted 95 yards up the home team's sideline for a touchdown to put Loyola up 35-0. Enigbokan, a track phenom, helped lead his Junior Olympic 4X100 relay team to a third place finish in North Carolina this summer. He is just one of the speedy athletes who lead the Cubs' 'Wolfpack' defense.

Among the many other defensive players who contribute to Loyola's stop unit are inside linebacker PATRICK SODL, and defensive linemen HARRISON MILLS, HENRY KUPIEC, JOE TAYLOR and SAM YOON. Offensive stars JACOBY KELLY, TAHJ OWENS, PETE VANIS, HARRISON ALLEN and NOLAN AHDERS are standouts in the secondary.

On Thursday, Loyola scored on its first possession as quarterback JOE TATUM hooked up with "CO" KELLY on a 60 yard catch and run at the 4:32 mark of the first quarter. JACKSON SHEA's PAT kick put the Cubs up 7-0. After Loyola's defense forced an Eagles' three-and-out, running back TAHJ OWENS raced 28 yards for a TD with 2:24 left in the first quarter. Shea's PAT kick made it 14-0 in favor of the Cubs.

Loyola safety PETER VANIS took a pick six back 90 yards just 15 seconds into the second quarter. It is one of several interception returns to pay dirt by the exceptionally talented Vanis this season. Shea's PAT boot upped the Cubs' lead to 21-0.

After the Cub defense forced another three-and-out, Tatum threw a second TD pass to Kelly, who made another of his patented spectacular catches, to extend Loyola's lead to 28-0. Enigbokan's 95-yard interception return padded the insurmountable Cub scoring margin to 35-0.

Tahj Owens turned on the jets on Loyola's first possession of the second half, this time sprinting 44 yards for his second rushing touchdown of the game just over three minutes into the third stanza. Owens' score and Shea's PAT gave the Cubs a 42-0 lead. The Big Blue reserves played the remainder of the contest. The home team went on to score a pair of TDs and converted on both two-point PAT attempts to make the final score, Loyola 42, Chaminade 16.

This Thursday at Smith Field at 4:00 p.m. the Cubs will host Bishop Amat in a game that will determine the 2018 Mission League championship. You can throw out the records and comparative scores (both teams are undefeated in conference play) in this battle. The Lancers will undoubtedly be the most physical squad Loyola has faced this season. The Cubs (7-1, 3-0) will need to play a nearly flawless game to emerge from the title decider with the Mission League crown.

There is no doubt that a huge crowd will be on hand for Thursday's showdown, including Loyola supporters who have yet to see one of the best freshman teams in Loyola's storied football annals. 

Loyola probably needs to win each of its three remaining games to make the CIF Div. 2 playoffs

There was a hue and cry by Loyola alumni and supporters when, under the new competitive equity formula implemented in 2015, the Cubs were designated as a Division 2 team this June when the playoff divisional placements were announced by the Southern Section.

Loyola moved down to the Division 2 playoff pool for the first time in school history.  As the season has played out, the Cubs are looking more like a Division 3 squad than a Division 1 aspirant. With three Mission League contests remaining on the slate, it looks as though Loyola will need to win out to earn a Division 2 playoff invitation.

The Division 2 schools, listed in order of the preseason competitive equity formula rankings (after the 18 Division 1 teams) are as follows:

19. Upland
20. Norco
21. Tesoro
22. Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks
23. Edison
24. Heritage
25. Calabasas
26. La Habra
27. Cathedral
28. Alemany
29. Great Oak
30. St. Francis
31. Westlake
32. San Juan Hills
33. Rancho Verde
34. Los Alamitos
35. Redlands East Valley
36. Loyola

Two Division 2 teams will not make the playoffs as only sixteen teams will fill the bracket. As things stand, only Great Oak of Temecula and Loyola have 1-6 records among the Division 2 designees. Great Oak is unlikely to win another game based on its results thus far and the Wolfpack's remaining Southwestern League schedule.

The Cubs are not favored in any of their remaining conference tilts against Chaminade (0-2), Bishop Amat (2-0) and Gardena Serra (0-2). Unfortunately for Loyola, none of the other teams in Division 2 currently look to conclude their conference campaigns in worse than third place in their respective leagues (a third place finisher in five and six team conferences are usually guaranteed a spot in the playoffs). So even if the Cubs were to run the table, and finish 3-2 in league play and 4-6 overall, it is possible they could end up in third place (or even fourth place if there were a tie), and then it could come down to another third place team vying with Loyola for the last opening. And with a losing record there would be no guarantee for the Cubs. Each of Loyola's three remaining foes are in the Division 1 field, so three consecutive wins over Division 1 opponents would help in the strength of schedule equation.

Looking at the Mission League
At the beginning of the season, most prep experts figured that Chaminade, Serra and Bishop Amat would vie for the conference title. No one expected Notre Dame and a young Alemany team to be in the thick of the battle for conference supremacy.

After the first two weeks of Mission League contests, Bishop Amat (6-1, 2-0), Alemany (6-1,2-0) and Notre Dame (5-2, 2-0) are each undefeated in conference play, while Chaminade (2-5, ), Loyola (1-6, 0-2) and Serra (3-4, 0-2) are winless.

Chaminade has Loyola, Serra and Notre Dame remaining of its league schedule. The Cubs play Chaminade on the road, Bishop Amat (at home) and Serra (in Gardena) to finish out the regular season. Serra hosts Alemany this Friday, plays at Chaminade on October 19 and hosts Loyola on October 26. The playoff brackets will be announced by the Southern Section on October 28

If the Cubs can find a way to jump start their offense, they could be in the hunt.

Loyola Freshmen and Sophomore teams are in thick of Mission League title races
Loyola's freshman team is among the best the school has ever fielded. The frosh Cubs are 6-1, with their lone setback coming at Vista Murrieta in a contest that was marred by multiple questionable penalties. Loyola's average score to date is 45-14. The total-points-scored side of the Cubs' ledger would be much higher if the first string had played more after intermission in five of its contests. The freshmen play Chaminade on Friday at 3:30 p.m. in Mission Hills before the varsity game, which kicks off at 7:00 p.m.

Loyola's sophomore team is 1-0-1 in Mission League play. It has improved significantly since the first game of the season. The Cubs will host Chaminade's JV team at Smith Field on Thursday at 4:00 p.m.

Loyola is the only school in the Mission League that plays a JV schedule exclusively with sophomore players.

Offensive futility continues in loss to Notre Dame

LOYOLA FAILS TO MUSTER NEEDED OFFENSE IN SECOND DISHEARTENG MISSION LEAGUE DEFEAT
Loyola dropped its second Mission League game on Friday night, falling to Sherman Oaks Notre Dane, 28-7, at Smith Field. Offensive futility continued to hamper the Cubs’ quest for a victory. Loyola’s skein of ineffectiveness on the offensive side of the ball culminated in a sixth consecutive defeat.

Since their season opening win, the Cub offensive platoon has scored just 15 points (a field goal against St. Augustine, a TD against Alemany and another touchdown against an average Notre Dame squad). Defense and special teams put the other 24 of 39 total points on the board since the season opener. Loyola’s offense has averaged just 2.5 points in its last six outings. Suffice to say it has been the worst offensive drought in a six game span in decades.

The lone touchdown scored by the Cubs (1-6, 0-2) against the surging Knights (5-2, 2-0) came at the 6:26 mark of the fourth quarter when senior quarterback and team captain NATHAN PRIESTLY scampered 16 yards to the left corner of the end zone.

Aside from its woeful offensive struggles, the nadir of the night for Loyola came with 13 seconds left in the first half when the Cub defense looked like it expected Notre Dame’s quarterback to take a knee, only to watch the 6’ 3” sophomore signal caller race 63 yards untouched for a touchdown. The ensuing PAT kick upped the Knights’ insurmountable lead to 21-0 as the teams headed to their locker rooms.

Early on in the contest, it appeared as though Loyola might make a game of it against Notre Dame which entered Smith Field following a resounding 38-7 drubbing of Serra in its Mission League opener on September 28. The Cubs’ ‘Wolfpack’ defense forced the Knights to punt on their first possession. But according to exasperating form that has become habitual, Loyola’s initial offensive possession ended in a punt. Notre Dame faced a third-and-fifteen situation at its 35 yard line on its next possession, when the Knights’quarterback threw a quick screen to his tailback, who raced 65 yards for a TD at the 3:27 mark of the first quarter.

The Cubs’ next three possessions ended in a punt, interception and another punt. Notre Dame missed a 42-yard field goal and was held to a three and out by the ‘Wolfpack’ before scoring on a 25-yard pass with 5:45 left in the second quarter. It looked as though Loyola would still be in it going into halftime thanks to a scrappy effort by its defense. Then mind numbing disaster struck with 13 seconds left before intermission. Deflated would be too mild a word to describe the Cubs’ emotions at the break. 

The Knights’ scored on a fumble return set up by a sack late in the third quarter, to extend their lead to 28-0. In the search for positives in yet another disheartening defeat, one can hang his hat on Loyola’s defense pitching a shutout after intermission. Unfortunately, without help from the offense, the Cub stop unit cannot be counted on to carry the load. Having scored just two offensive touchdowns in 24 quarters, there is little reason to anticipate different results going forward. With three games remaining, Loyola will have to find a magic elixir to cure its offensive woes. 

The Cubs will travel to West Hills next Friday to take on Chaminade (2-5, 0-2), which fell to Alemany (6-1, 0-2), 31-14, on Friday.

Loyola Freshmen continue to roll - Cub Sophs tie undefeated Notre Dame

LOYOLA FROSH PUMMEL NOTRE DAME 49-6
The Cub freshman football team routed Notre Dame’s frosh squad, 49-6, on Thursday at Smith Field to improve its record to 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the Mission League. Loyola rolled to a 35-0 halftime lead. After its first offensive series of the third quarter, which culminated in a TD, the Cub first string gave way to the reserves. As been the case in multiple contests thus far, the fourth quarter was played with a running clock.

The Knights went three-and-out on their first possession of the game. PETE VANIS returned Notre Dame’s punt to the visitors’ 28-yard line. HARRISON ALLEN’s four-yard run for a score at the 7:23 mark of the first quarter, followed by JACKSON SHEA’s extra point kick, put Loyola up 7-0, and the rout was on.

Vanis, who had a monster outing on offense, defense and special teams, returned the Knights’ second punt of the afternoon for six points. Shea’s PAT kick put the Cubs up 14-0. An unbelievable 50-yard broken tackle run by running back TAHJ OWENS with 8:10 left in the second quarter extended Loyola’s lead to 21-0. 

Nose guard HENRY KUPIEC’s fourth down sack of Notre Dame’s quarterback at the Knights’ 31 yard line put the Cubs on a short field. Allen powered into the end zone from the one yard line at the 3:50 mark of the second stanza. Shea’s PAT boot made the score 28-0.

JACOBY KELLY made an incredible long distance circus catch of a JOE TATUM pass to set up a 17-yard touchdown run by Tatum, which put the Cubs up 35-0 at the break.

Loyola’s first possession of the second half covered 60 yards. It was culminated by an Allen 12-yard TD sprint, which extended Loyola’s lead to 42-0 with 8:42 left in the third quarter.  The Cub reserves took over for the remainder of the game. Quarterback JACK WYNPERLE’s two-yard TD run made the score 49-0 at the 7:16 mark of the final quarter. The Knights’ finally scored with 2:26 left in the contest.

it was another dominant performance by the Cubs, whose next Mission League battle will be against Chaminade in West Hills next Friday at 3:30 p.m. Loyola averages 45 points per outing to its opponents’ 14 points.

CUB SOPHS TIE UNDEFEATED NOTRE DAME
Loyola’s sophomore squad traveled to Sherman Oaks on Thursday to take on Notre Dame’s undefeated JVs. The Knights came into the game with a 6-0 record, averaging a 45-6 winning score per contest, with their offense scoring 60 or more points in two games (61-0 versus Moorpark and 60-0 against Birmingham).

A tie is never as good as a win, but in this case it almost was, given the talent of the opponent and playing on the road. 

Down 27-14 at halftime the Cubs outscored Notre Dame after intermission, 20-7, showing great grit and resolve. The squad is definitely improving week to week, which is a testament to the great job the all-alumni staff is doing.

Important game on tap this week - All-alumni Sophomore staff imbuing Cub ethos

Loyola has big game on Friday
Coming off a one-sided loss to Alemany last Friday, the Cubs' are in desperate need of wins to keep their playoff hopes alive. The challenge Loyola faces this Friday is formidable as they will host the Notre Dame Knights, one of the hottest teams in Division 2. The Knights are coming off an impressive 38-7 win over Gardena Serra.

Kickoff on Friday is at 7:00 p.m.at Smith Field.

A LOOK AT THE KNIGHTS
Head coach Kevin Rooney’s Knights got off to a relatively slow start to the season, losing their first non-league contest to CIF Central Coast Section powerhouse Mountain View St. Francis, 23-12, in the Bay Area, followed by a heartbreaking 35-34 setback to Moorpark in game two. There was no shame in those defeats. St. Francis is ranked thirty-first in the state by MaxPreps, and Moorpark has a 5-1 record.

In its three non-league tilts heading into last Friday’s Mission League opener against Gardena Serra Notre Dame outscored Lancaster Paraclete, San Fernando and Lake Balboa Birmingham by the cumulative score of 160-26 (average score 53-9). It was each of those teams’ worst losses of the season.

Last Friday, the Knights made a resounding statement in crushing Gardena Serra, 38-7, in their Mission League opener in Sherman Oaks.
 
Notre Dame is run-oriented. It was averaging over 240 rushing yards per game going into last Friday’s contest. Senior speed back Christian Grubb (5-11, 170) leads the running crew with an eye-popping 10.8 yards per carry. Powerful sophomore Anthony Spearman III (5-10, 193) is the second leading back with a 7.2 yards per carry average. The team’s per game rushing average is a robust 7.7 yards per carry.
 
Sophomore dual threat quarterback Cooper Meek (6-3, 185) can fling it. He has a 59 % completion rate (15 yards per completion) and averages 6.7 yards per carry on the ground. Meek’s favorite target is 6-0, 188 lb. receiver Mckel Brossard. Spearman averages 18 yards per reception out of the backfield. The Knights’ offense is led by a powerful offensive line spearheaded by senior Daniel Fitzmorris (6-2, 285).
 
Sophomore linebacker Jacob Moore (6-1, 195) leads a stout Notre Dame defense with 67 tackles through the first five games. Junior inside linebacker W. M. Johnson (5-11, 207) had notched 37 tackles and junior defensive back Justin Horton (5-11, 160) recorded 28 stops heading into the Serra contest.
 
OUTLOOK
The Knights are sold on both sides of the ball. One of the keys to the game for the Cubs will be holding Meek in check, as he is as capable hurting teams with the run as the pass. Last Friday he had 103 yards passing and 74 rushing yards. Loyola’s offense will probably need to score at least four touchdowns if the Cubs hope to notch a win.
 
THE SERIES
Loyola and Notre Dame (founded in 1947 by The Congregation of the Holy Cross) first met on the gridiron in 1950. Led by two-time All-CIF running back Frank Layana ’52, the Cubs vanquished the Knights in the teams’ inaugural meeting, 37-14. Loyola, the Catholic league champion under head coach Jack Bouchard, advanced to the CIF Southern Section Large Schools playoff semifinals that season. The Cubs’ two largest margins of victory over Notre Dame were in 1963 (46-0) and 1975 (46-7). Loyola was undefeated (12-0) and won a second consecutive CIF Southern section AAAA title in 1963. The Cubs were CIF AAAA and National Champions after a 13-0 campaign in 1975.
 
Loyola leads the series with a 33-18 overall record.
 
2018 Notre Dame Record (4-2)
St. Francis (Mtn. View)    23   NOTRE DAME   12
Moorpark                         35   NOTRE DAME   34
NOTRE DAME                55   Paraclete              7
NOTRE DAME                56   San Fernando      7
NOTRE DAME                49   Birmingham        12
NOTRE DAME.               38   Serra.                   7

Loyola sophs down Alemany JVs 45-28; coached by all-alumni staff
Last Thursday, Loyola's sophomore team ran roughshod over Alemany's JV squad by a score of 45-28. The going has not been easy for the Cub sophomores who have been playing JV teams which include upperclassmen. The experience of playing older opponents will only make the players better prepared for the next level.

Loyola's sophomore coaching staff is manned entirely by dedicated Loyola graduates, each of whom has been instilling the Cub ethos of toughness and accountability.

Head coach ANTHONY HOLLY '87 (RBs, DL, Offensive Coordinator) was an All-CIF nose guard on Loyola's 1986 team which finished with a 9-3 record. Holly is one of the toughest players to have ever donned Cub Blue.

Assistant coach Fred Sainz '83 (Defensive Coordinator, WRs, Inside Linebackers) was a bruising, ball-hawking All-CIF safety on Loyola's 1982 squad that finished 9-2-1 and advanced to the CIF playoff quarterfinals. Assistant NICOLAS COTTON (QBs, DBs, Special Teams Coordinator) quarterbacked the Cubs to an 8-3 record in 2011. JEROD ADAMS '15 (RBs, Outside Linebackers) played outside linebacker for the varsity in 2013 and 2015. He is the son of longtime head basketball coach JAMAL ADAMS '90.

Offensive and Defensive Line coach JOE MURRAY '78 was an offensive tackle on Loyola's nationally ranked CIF AAAA semifinalist squad in 1977. He earned All-CIF AAAA accolades and was also named a Parade All-American. Murray was awarded a football scholarship to USC, where he started for the Trojans as an offensive lineman. After his graduation from Troy, Murray played professionally for the NFL's Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts. Murray travels daily from his home in South Orange County to coach the Cub linemen.

Loyola's sophomore squad is fortunate to have these dedicated Cub grads teaching them the Big Blue way to compete.

Keeping tabs on Cubs in College Football
Former Loyola MVP MYLES BRYANT '16, who dominated at multiple positions for the Cubs during his brilliant three year varsity playing career, is replicating his Loyola exploits at the University of Washington as the Huskies' starting nickel corner. Bryant, a junior, was named Washington's defensive Player of the Week after his standout efforts in the 'Dawgs 35-7 victory over previously unbeaten BYU on Saturday.

Second half of league opening loss shows promise - Loyola freshman win thriller

LOYOLA ROUTED BY ALEMANY, BUT SECOND HALF EFFORT COULD SIGNAL IMPROVEMENT AHEAD
High school football teams play four twelve minute quarters in a game. Since the conclusion of Loyola’s 51-7 shellacking of Fairfax in the season opener on August 24 the Cubs had not scored an offensive touchdown in 227 minutes and four seconds of game action until junior quarterback DAVIS WARREN passed to senior running back and team captain HUNTER BALLARD in the right flat for an 11-yard touchdown at the :56 mark of the third quarter in their league opener against Alemany on Friday night.in Mission Hills. The successful venture into paydirt ended a painful 18 quarter offensive touchdown drought. 

Davis was inserted into the lineup behind center to start the second half. His quick release and accurate passes, often under pressure, seemed to energize the entire Loyola operation. Even the moribund running game found life with the passing game suddenly showing rhythm. An inspired effort by the Cub ‘Wolfpack’ defense was highlighted by a tackle of Alemany’s quarterback in the end zone to notch a safety, allowing Loyola to outscore the Warriors 8-6 in the second half.

There was optimism in the Cub camp heading into the first conference contest based on the sterling performance of the defense against Vista Murrieta the week before. Loyola had held the 29th ranked squad in California to just two field goals. Unfortunately, the Cubs fell victim to a veritable landslide of Warrior passing yards in the first half. Alemany’s quarterback threw for a staggering 385 yards in the first two quarters, helping the Warriors roll to a 28-0 lead before intermission. 

The change behind center allowed Loyola to build momentum in the second half on both sides of the ball. An offense that had been woeful for the four previous games suddenly showed promise. The ‘Wolfpack’ allowed only 62 passing yards in the second half. Whether there will be carry over as the Cubs host red hot Sherman Oaks Notre Dame next Friday remains to be seen, but the energy created by a promising second half effort against Alemany provides hope for the remainder of the Mission League campaign. The final 34-8 score does not look good, but the final 24 minutes of inspired effort did.

A LOOK AT THE MISSION LEAGUE
The race for the Mission League championship and three guaranteed playoff berths is wide open after the first week of league competition. Title favorite Bishop Amat (5-1, 1-0), ranked eleventh in the state, scored a late TD in North Hills to notch a nail biting 28-27 victory over Chaminade (2-4, 0-1), which probably played the CIF Southern Section’s toughest non-league schedule with games against state number two-ranked St. John Bosco, fifth-ranked Oaks Christian and sixth-ranked Folsom. Notre Dame (4-2, 1-0) walloped Gardena Serra, 38-7, notching a victory over the athletic Cavaliers for the first time since 2007. To make the Div. 2 playoffs Loyola will have to find a way to notch at least two wins in its final four contests.

LOYOLA FRESHMEN DEFEAT ALEMANY IN THRILLING LEAGUE OPENER
Loyola‘s freshman football team travelled to Mission Hills on Friday afternoon for a showdown game against undefeated Alemany, which came into the contest with an average winning score of 39-9. The Warriors are huge up front with several linemen tipping the scales at over 300 pounds, a 6-5 wide receiver/ defensive end and another 6-4 defensive lineman. In addition to incredible size, Alemany possesses better speed than any squad the Cubs had faced in their first five games. But, as has been the case all season, Loyola was not intimidated by the apparent advantages possessed by the host squad.

Following an interception by Cub outside linebacker JACK WYNPERLE on the Warriors’ first possession, Loyola drove 63 yards, scoring on a 1-yard pass from JOE TATUM to TAHJ OWENS with 4:09 left in the first quarter. 

At the 6:01 mark of the second stanza the Warriors returned a punt 50 yards for a TD. A two-point conversion attempt was stuffed by the Cubs, making the score 7-6 in favor of Loyola.

With 2:29 left in the half, Owens, who had a huge afternoon running and catching the ball, powered into the end zone from six yards out. Alemany came storming back, scoring on an 11-yard pass just before halftime. The two point conversion attempt succeeded, tying the score at 14-14 as the teams headed to the locker room.

The Warriors scored first after intermission, connecting on a 33-yard pass on a third-down-and-23-yards-to-go play with 4:47 left in the third quarter, making the score, Alemany 20, Loyola 14.
 
JACOBY KELLY, who had an incredible outing, put the Cubs back in the lead, 21-20, with a spectacular catch of an 18-yard Tatum pass with 1:29 left in the third stanza. 

Suspense continued to build in the taut, hard hitting see-saw contest entering the final quarter. The Warriors scored on a 16-yard pass with 10:50 left on the clock. A successful two-point conversion attempt put Alemany up, 28-21.

Undaunted, Loyola came back with a vengeance, scoring on a perfectly executed 15-yard double pass with Tatum throwing to slot receiver PETE VANIS, who then connected with Kelly. The PAT kick tied the score, 28-28, with 7:33 remaining in the game. 

The tension on the field was palpable when, with just over three minutes remaining, the Warriors went for it on fourth-and-short at the Cub 48 yard line. Loyola’s defense held as the huge momentum swing turned in the Cubs’ favor. Loyola was driving successfully before an interception seemingly looked to end the Big Blue’s chances.

Shortly thereafter, though, Alemany attempted a deep pass which was intercepted by Vanis, another star of the day, setting the Cubs up with one more propitious opportunity near midfield with just over a minute remaining on the clock. The key play on the drive was another double pass, this time from Tatum who threw a lateral aerial to Vanis, who in turn threw the ball down the middle to a wide open Tatum. With 4.9 seconds remaining in the contest, and the ball on the Warriors 16 yard line, JACKSON SHEA nailed a 26-yard field goal to win the game for Loyola, 31-28.

The entire offensive line should be lauded for its effort, especially tackles  SAM YOON and JOSEPH TAYLOR. It would be difficult to name a player of the game for the Cubs, as it was a spectacular, gutsy effort by the entire TEAM which continues to impress everyone who is fortunate enough to see them compete with uncommon focus and intensity week after week. Loyola (5-1, 1-0) will host Notre Dame’s freshmen on Thursday at 4:00 p.m.

Old Dominion reminds that anything is possible as "new" season begins

Loyola's "new" season starts Friday - anything is possible in wide open Mission League  
The Washington Post headline in Sunday’s Sports Section read, "From Norfolk to eternity: Old Dominion springs a glorious upset for the ages" after the winless Monarchs of Conference USA not only upset Virginia Tech, the nation's number 13th-ranked team, but poured it on the Hokies to the tune of a staggering 632 yards of total offense in a 49-35 victory that can only be described as a seismic event in FBS football. Old Dominion lost to lowly Liberty, 52-10, three weeks ago. Since their lone victory over the Monarchs, the Liberty Flames were outscored 85-21 by Army and North Texas.

What made the epic upset all the more compelling was that Old Dominion was struggling on offense until last Saturday's veritable total yardage explosion against one of the best defenses in major college football.

What does a college football game played in Norfolk, Virginia before a small crowd on a late September Saturday have to do with Cub Football? Well . . .everything. It proves that any team can get off the mat when down and turn around its fortunes notwithstanding what projections of further futility might indicate.

This Friday at Mission Hills, Loyola (1-4) will travel to Alemany (4-1) to kick off the 2018 Mission League campaign. The league is somewhat down compared to recent seasons, and the races for the conference title and playoff berths are wide open.

The Cubs have a chance to change the trajectory of their season as a "new" campaign commences this Friday. 

Below (in alphabetical order) are thumbnail sketches of each of Loyola's Mission League opponents after the non-league portions of their schedules were concluded.

ALEMANY (4-1)
The Warriors average 232 yards per game passing and 114 yards per game rushing. Sophomore quarterback Miller Moss (6-2, 190) has completed 60 per cent of his passes for 1,141 yards. Alemany’s top runner is freshman Floyd Chalk (5-9, 185), who is averaging 7.8 yards per carry. Senior DL Trevor Oioh (6-3, 240) leads the team in tackles with 31.

Most noteworthy result: 56-14 loss to Oaks Christian.

Average score: 31-16

BISHOP AMAT  (4-1)
The Lancers average 154 yards per game passing and 131 on the ground. Their top runner, Damien Moore, is lost for the season due to injury. Senior QB Blake Archuleta (6-2, 190) has completed 62 per cent of his passes for 762 yards. Senior running back Kenny Collins (5-9, 170) is averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Senior defensive back Deven Jarvis (6-2, 180) leads the team in tackles with 46.

Most noteworthy results: 42-14 season opening loss to Mater Dei (was a forfeit win due to MD’s use of an ineligible player), one point loss to state top 20-ranked JSerra (21-20), 42-21 win against Cathedral.

Average score: 34-21

CHAMINADE (2-3)
The Eagles, who along with Amat, have played a tough non-league schedule, average 181 rushing yards per game and 112 yards through the air. Senior QB Ryan Stevens (6-1, 180) has passed for 665 yards (58%). Alex Okuribido (6-0, 184) averages 6.5 yards per carry. Cal-bound senior linebacker Blake Antzoulatos (6-2, 202) leads Chaminade with 46 tackles.

Most noteworthy results: lost to state number six-ranked Folsom 70-34, lost to state number two-ranked St. John Bosco 56-20

Average score: 28-33.

NOTRE DAME (3-2)
The Knights average 241 yards on the ground and 112 passing yards per game. Sophomore signal caller Cooper Meek (6-3, 185) has completed 59% of his passes at a 14.9 yards per cometion clip and averages 6.7 yards per rush. Senior running back Christian Grubb (5-11, 170) averages a whopping 10.8 yards per carry. Sophomore RB Anthony Spearman III (5-10, 193) averages 7.2 ypc. Sophomore middle linebacker Jacob Moore (6-1, 195) leads the Kights with 69 tackles.

Most noteworthy result: lost 23-12 to St. Francis of San Mateo of the CIF Central Coast Section.

Average score: 30-17.

SERRA (3-2)
Serra averages 298 passing yards per game and 72 yards rushing. Junior quarterback Doug  Brumfield (6-5, 200) has completed 60% of his passes for 1,480 yards (14.2 yards per completion). Six foot-three inch senior receiver Justin Lockhart is averaging 102 receiving yards per game. Running back Jaylon Armstead (5-11, 215) is averaging 6.0 yards per carry.

Most noteworthy results: lost to San Diego Cathedral Catholic 41-22, defeated L. B. Poly 29-25, lost to Narbonne 27-26.

Average score: 28-27.

Cubs in college football update
Former Loyola punter STEFAN FLINTOFT '14 was named the Ray Guy Award punter of the week as he averaged 48.8 yards per punt, with a long of 70 yards, in UCLA's game against Fresno State on September 15. Flintoft is on the Ray Guy Award Watch List. The award is bestowed on the best punter in college football at the conclusion of each season.

Time to wipe the slate clean

LOYOLA DEFENSE STOUT AGAIN, OFFENSE STRUGGLES IN LOSS TO VISTA MURRIETA
In its final non-league contest of the season, the Cubs traveled to Murrieta on Friday to play Vista Murrieta on the Broncos’ homecoming night. Before a capacity, highly vocal home crowd Loyola’s ‘Wolfpack’ defense put forth an impressive effort for the second consecutive week, holding the home squad to just two field goals. Unfortunately, the Big Blue’s offense was once again staggeringly ineffective. 

Unofficially, on fourteen offensive possessions the Cubs punted eleven times (with one being blocked). Two other possessions ended with interceptions, and the last time Loyola had the ball the clock ran out. Putting on a punting clinic was not what the Cubs had in mind as they took the 90 mile bus ride to the Temecula Valley.

Loyola’s offense has now failed to score a touchdown in 20 consecutive quarters. That might be the longest skein of futility in the annals of the program. Against the Broncos, the Cubs were only able to muster a handful of first downs as the scoring drought continued. Unfortunately, changes in approach developed during the week leading up to Friday’s final non-league tilt did not transform the woebegone inefficiency of the Big Blue offense.

The ‘Wolfpack’ stop unit played with great intensity throughout the fray, allowing only two field goals against a team that rolled up 34 first half points against the CIF San Diego Section’s fourth ranked team in its preceding outing. With even a scintilla of production from the offense, Loyola could have easily notched a victory. The only points relinquished by Loyola’s defense in the first half came on a 30-yard Vista Murrieta field goal at the 1:21 mark of the first quarter.

On the Broncos’ first drive of the second half Cub junior inside linebacker STEVEN ARELLANO and senior linebacker CHASE BRANIGAN combined on a jarring tackle to cause a Vista Murrieta fumble, with Arellano picking up the loose ball and returning it to Loyola’s 32 yard line. It was another frustrating three and out for the Cubs, squelching the momentum created by the turnover. After Loyola’s defense forced another Bronco punt, the Cubs took over on their 14 yard line. Another three and out ensued, and disaster struck as the punt was blocked and rolled out of the end zone for a safety as Vista Murrieta players frantically tried to corral the ball. The safety increased the Broncos’ lead to 5-0 late in the third quarter.

The teams exchanged punts three times before Loyola secured favorable field position only to have an interception returned all the way to the Cubs’ 18 yard line. Vista Murrieta kicked a 36-yard field goal with 5:21 left in the fourth quarter to make the score 8-0.

The Broncos fumbled a Loyola punt following another three and out by the Cub offense. Set up for a potential game tying drive, a Cub interception quickly followed, ending the scoring opportunity. The Big Blue offense got the ball one more time with a little over a minute remaining in the game. With no time outs left, Loyola notched one first down before the clock expired.

Senior defensive lineman MARCUS AGUILAR had several sacks to pace the impressive effort of Loyola’s defensive platoon. The Cubs’ stop unit forced the Broncos to punt seven times and stuffed their lone fourth down attempt. The six points scored by Vista Murrieta wer 22 points below its season average.

TIME TO WIPE THE SLATE CLEAN

Yes, the Cubs are 1-4 and struggling mightily on the offensive side of the ball, but a new season gets underway on Friday as Loyola will travel to Mission Hills to take on Alemany in the first contest of its five game Mission League schedule  The Cubs have an opportunity to erase their non-league struggles, regroup and figure out a way to move the ball on offense. While there is a lot to work on, opportunity abounds nonetheless. Some players need to step up and every member of  the team needs to make a decision that there are still plenty of goals for which to play.

Cub freshmen suffer first loss with significant aid from officials

Loyola freshman team loses heart breaker to Vista Murrieta with shocking help from officiating crew
Going into Thursday's road game against Vista Murrieta the Cub freshman team had yet to play an opponent that gave it much competition. By the middle of the first quarter of Loyola's final non-league contest against the Broncos on a hot, windy afternoon in Murrieta, it became patently obvious that the Cubs were not only playing against a depth-laden team with 90-plus members, but also against an officiating crew that clearly had an agenda that favored Vista Murrieta to the point of incredulity.

Drive-ending penalty flags were thrown against Loyola with regularity and penalties were called with equal frequency against the Cubs, keeping numerous Bronco drives alive. Approximately 14 flags were thrown against Loyola in what was the most blatantly biased officiated football contest this writer has watched in over 50 years. The Cub coaching staff was aghast at the phantom penalties conjured up by what proved to be striped-shirted opponents. Using bad official calls as a legitimate excuse for losing does not normally stand up, but in this particular case the sheer volume and times the flags were thrown left no doubt that the officiating crew had a direct impact on the outcome of the contest.

To be sure, the Broncos were the best coached opponent Loyola has played thus far this season, and the size, strength and depth of their offensive and defensive lines trumped the prowess of the Cubs' trench men in each of those categories. Without the officials' contribution to the outcome, though, a four point loss would have been another victory for Loyola, despite several costly miscues and breakdowns.

Running back HARRISON SMITH raced 69 yards for a Cub touchdown just 39 seconds into the game, and the 'Wolfpack' defense forced a three and out on the Broncos' first offensive possession. Loyola punted on its next possession after flags were thrown, and then Vista Murietta went on a flag-assisted 82-yard drive, capped by a 10-yard TD jaunt to tie the score. On their ensuing possession the Cubs coughed up the ball on their own 29 yard line, and the Broncos scored on a short run with 1:43 left in the first quarter. The Broncos missed the PAT kick to make the score 13-7 in favor of the home squad.

Loyola overcame several flags on their next possession, driving 71 yards with a 17-yard scoring pass from JOE TATUM to wide receiver PETE VANIS capping the march. A blocked PAT made the score 13-13. What would turn out to ultimately be the difference-making play of the game-when not considering the officials' role-came on the ensuing kickoff which was taken 80 yards to paydirt by Vista Murrieta's diminutive starting running back. The PAT kick made the score 20-13 in favor of the Broncos. It was looking like the bottom was falling out for Loyola when Vista Murrieta blocked a Cubs' punt on the Big Blue's next possession, with the Broncos taking over at the Loyola 30 yard line. Another officials' assisted drive ended in a Vista Murrieta TD. The Cubs' blocked the Broncos' PAT kick attempt to make the score 26-13 in favor of Vista Murrieta.

With 1:30 left in the second quarter the Cubs seized the momentum with a perfectly executed double pass for a touchdown that covered 70 yards. Tatum threw a lateral to Vanis who turned and threw a perfect pass to a streaking JACOBY KELLY. An aerial to tight end WILL ALLEN on the extra point try closed the gap to 26-21 just before halftime.

A big sack by Loyola on the Broncos' first drive of the second half forced a field goal try that was short. At the 2:15 mark of the third quarter, after several drive-interrupting flags, Tatum threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Harrison Allen. Tatum's two point conversion on a run around right end put the Cubs in the lead 29-26.

Aided by several flags, including two on fourth down plays, Vista Murrieta scored on a four yard run to pull ahead, 33-29.Loyola could not answer with barely over a minute left in the game.

The Broncos were physical up front and shuffled in talented line back-ups as the game progressed. Meanwhile, with several Cub linemen who were going both ways Loyola began to wear down during the latter stages of the second half.

A beautifully executed 70-yard touchdown sprint by Loyola running back TAHJ OWENS was one of the many huge plays nullified by penalties.

The loss stings, but the caliber of opponent is just what the Cubs (4-1) needed before embarking on the Mission League portion of their schedule next week.  Loyola fought gallantly until the end and showed great resolve throughout the contest. No predictions can be made as to how the Cubs will fare in conference play, but one thing is certain, they will be compete with uncommon physicality in each of the remaining five games.

tough schedule ahead for Loyola

EVERY TEAM REMAINING ON LOYOLA’S SCHEDULE IS STATE-RANKED, CUBS HAVE TOUGH ROW TO HOE
Loyola’s varsity football team is in search of an elixir for what has been a dreadful 1-3 start to the 2018 season. And the silver bullet needs to be found in a hurry as the Cubs are preparing to make a 180 mile round trip on Friday to play surging Vista Murrieta (2-2) which routed the fourth-ranked team in San Diego County last Friday. The Broncos led Madison 34-0 at halftime en route to a 34-6 victory. The impressive win propelled Vista Murrieta to the number 29 spot in this week’s CalHi Sports state rankings.

Following the long trek to Murrieta, Loyola will begin its arduous march through the treacherous Mission League on September 28 with a trip to Mission Hills Alemany (4-1). Each Mission League team will be a favorite when it meets the Cubs if the rankings stay the same as they are this week. Loyola is not among California’s top 79 teams as ranked by CalHi Sports.

After drubbing Cathedral, 42-21, a team to which the Cubs lost by 23 points, league favorite Bishop Amat (4-1) rocketed up from the number 20 to the number 12 position in the state Top 25. The Lancers lost to Mater Dei by a lopsided score (but MD forfeited the win for using an ineligible player) and lost a heart breaker by a single point to number nine-ranked JSerra of the Trinity League.

Serra of Gardena (2-2) is ranked number 35 in the latest state poll, and Chaminade (2-3) is slotted at number 45, but two of the Eagles’ losses were to state top five-ranked teams, Folsom and St. John Bosco. Both Alemany and Notre Dame (2-2) are listed by ClaHi Sports among the other 29 teams receiving consideration after the top 50.

There are 18 teams in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoff eligibility field, and 16 of those squads will receive playoff invitations. Loyola will have to win at least two games in conference play to be considered for a playoff invitation. Somehow the Cubs have to find a way to get the arrow pointing up, and this Friday’s final non-league contest will provide an opportunity to get the Big Blue back on track.

A LOOK AT VISTA MURRIETA
The Broncos (2-2) appear to be hitting on all cylinders after their impressive victory over highly regarded San Diego Madison last Friday. Vista Murrieta is averaging 180 yards per game on the ground and 111 yards through the air. Senior quarterback Michael Jimenez (6-2, 200) is a talented field general. The Broncos’ run game is powered by the threesome of senior Theo Gearring (5-9, 175, 6.7 yards per carry), who was named the Player of the Game against Madison; junior Robert Coleman (6-0,180, 5.7 yards per carry); and junior Raqueal Wagstaff (5-8, 195, 7.6 yards per carry).

The Broncos ‘ top wide receiver is blazing fast senior Alex Hill (5-8, 170, 20.1 yards per catch). Senior wideout Rickie Johnson (6-3, 175, 14.4 yds. per reception) is a tall, reliable target.

Among the standout players on Vista Murrieta’s defensive platoon are senior outside linebacker Samuela Mo’unga ((6-0, 215), who leads the Broncos with 38 tackles; senior OLB/DL Nathan Bolton (6-3, 215, 24 tackles); and senior outside linebacker Brock Berry (6-0, 195), 23 tackles). Junior corner Tyreese Shakir (5-10, 170) is one of the best athletes the Cubs will see for the remainder of the campaign.

In addition to the Madison win, the Broncos have an impressive 38-35 victory over Los Alamitos. Vista Murrieta lost 42-17 to an outstanding Orange Lutheran squad and fell to powerhouse Norco 30-27 before last Friday’s demolition of state-ranked Madison.

OUTLOOK
The Cubs do not match up very well with the Broncos on either side of the ball, at least based on what has transpired in the last three games for Loyola. It is imperative that the Cubs establish a running game. If Loyola cannot control the clock and play solid defense the prospects for a celebratory bus ride back to Los Angeles do not look promising. Vista Murrieta is talented, disciplined, fast and physical. It is probably the best team the Cubs have faced to this point. That being said, the Big Blue might just need a trip away from home to spark a turnaround.

THE SERIES
Loyola and Vista Murrieta have never met in football. The Broncos have won CIF titles at lower divisions, and are chomping at the bit to defeat a storied program from Los Angeles in the schools’ first encounter.