Loyola to face another ranked team on the road Friday

The Cubs (1-2) will take the road up to the Santa Clarita Valley this Friday to play Valencia (2-1), yet another highly ranked opponent. The Vikings are 19th in this week's Los Angeles Times' prep football top 25 rankings.

Valencia defeated Arcadia, 60-7, and Silverado of Victorville, 69-19, before being upended by 14th-ranked Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, 28-10, last Friday in Granada Hills. The Vikings probably possess the most physical offensive and defensive lines Loyola has faced thus far this season. The battles in the trenches will likely determine the outcome of what promises to be a hotly contested non-league skirmish.

Valencia is a very well coached, disciplined team. The Vikings are led by bruising senior running back Jake Santos (5-11,190), senior running back Nick Pham (5-8, 180), strong man senior center Tristan Lachman (6-1, 275), senior WR/S Mitchell Torres (6-2,190, 24.3 yards per catch in first two games), senior big play receiver Jayden Lawrence (6-2, 190, 31.7 ypc in first two contests), and senior quarterback Ryan Morrison (6-5, 210).

Valencia takes pride in its impressive strength and conditioning program, the results of which have allowed it to win ten consecutive Foothill League championships. The Vikings return six offensive starters from last season's league title squad.

Going into the Sierra Canyon game last Friday, Valencia showed great balance on offense, averaging 185 yards passing per game and 182 yards rushing. Sierra Canyon's defense forced the Vikings to be one dimensional, holding them to 30 yards on the ground on 29 carries. The Cub 'Wolfpack' defense will try to follow that script on Friday.

Monster schedule testing Cubs' mettle, Mission League opponents have cumulative 15-3 record to date
Loyola showed improvement last Friday in its 17-13 setback to Cathedral which entered the season as the Times' 25th-ranked program. Mistakes, including multiple penalties, cost the Cubs the game. Loyola will need to eliminate the miscues if it hopes to successfully compete in the seven remaining games on its slate. The Big Blue's final non-league foe, Vista Murrieta, is ranked 23rd in the top 25.

The Cubs' Mission League adversaries have posted an impressive 15-3 cumulative non-league record to date. Every Mission League team except West Hills Chaminade (2-2) is ranked in the Times' top 25: Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (3-0) 7th, Gardena Serra (3-0) 9th, La Puente Bishop Amat (3-1) 16th, and Mission Hills Bishop Alemany (4-0) 17th.

The good news is that Loyola will be battle tested when Mission League action gets underway on October 4. Except for the season's first opponent, Playa del Rey St Bernard, each of the Cubs' other four non-league foes have the talent to compete in the Mission League, which is exceptionally strong this year.

Keeping tabs on Cub grads
Former Loyola linebacker TEDDY GALLAGHER '16, who was a member of the Cubs' 2015 team that finished the campaign ranked 17th in the state, is tied for third on Coastal Carolina's solo tackles list. The Chanticleers, with middle linebacker Gallagher making big stops on defense, defeated Kansas 12-7 on Saturday in Lawrence, Kansas to record the program's first victory over a team from a Power Five Conference in its 17-year history.

University of Washington team captain and starting safety MYLES BRYANT '16, Loyola's MVP in 2015, continued to add to his impressive career stats in the Huskies' 52-20 rout of Hawaii on Saturday in Seattle. Bryant's two interceptions and a sack earned him Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors. The senior ball hawk is a lock for selection in next spring's NFL draft.

LOYOLA OVERPOWERED BY ST. AUGUSTINE IN SAN DIEGO

In its second non-league contest of the season Loyola ran into a proverbial buzz saw, as St. Augustine, the defending CIF San Diego Section Division I champion and 19th ranked team in California, made short work of the Cubs in an overpowering 42-5 beatdown at Morse College in San Diego on Friday night. On the home team’s first possession, the Saints methodically drove 75 yards for a touchdown in three minutes and three seconds, and never looked back.

Loyola threw an interception on its first possession, but St. Augustine gave the ball right back on a fumble recovered by the Cubs at their own 45-yard line. After driving for a first-and-goal at the Saints’ six yard line, set up by a beautiful, diving 48-yard reception by junior wide receiver CEYAIR WRIGHT on a perfectly thrown ball by junior quarterback BRAYDEN ZERMENO, the suffocating St. Augustine defense held Loyola to a 20-yard DIEGO BURGOS field goal, allowing the visitors to close the gap to 7-3 at the 4:32 mark of the first quarter. Those three points would the only points the Big Blue would put on the board in the game.

The Cub ‘Wolfpack’ defense, which was on the field most of the night, gave up another TD just eight seconds into the second quarter. The six-pointer capped a well-executed 70-yard drive. Still within striking distance, down 14-3, Loyola was hanging on until it fell victim to a 40-yard fourth down touchdown pass with 43 seconds left in the first half. For all intents and purposes, that was the death knell as the beleaguered Cubs trudged into the locker room on the short end of a 21-3 count at intermission.

Loyola sophomore kick returner TAHJ OWENS took the second half kickoff back 54 yards on a brilliant return-he sprinted 40 yards on the game’s second kickoff-but once again the fast and physical Saints defense forced yet another punt. Owens was one of the few bright spots of the night for the Cubs, both as a returner and running back.

St. Augustine promptly drove 90 yards on its ensuing possession, scoring on a 15-yard pass with 6:05 left in the third quarter. Less than three minutes later, following a Loyola fourth down fumble, the Saints increased their lead to 35-3 on a six play, 53-yard scoring drive. St. Augustine scored its final TD of the evening on a 25-yard pass to cap a 40-yard drive just seven seconds into the final stanza. With less than two minutes left in the game, Loyola’s defense forced a safety against the Saints reserves to make the final score 42-5.

The Cubs were clobbered by a much more talented team that was bigger, faster, stronger and had more athletes. The home squad’s line platoons dominated most of the evening. It would have taken a near perfect effort for Loyola to have made it a game. And, unfortunately, the effort was far from perfect.

St. Augustine’s defense was in attack mode all night, and the Cubs had no answers for the onslaught. Other than the drive which culminated in a field goal, Loyola’s offensive possessions ended as follows: interception, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, fumble, interception, interception, and clock running out.

Meanwhile, the Saints were forced to punt just twice and fumbled twice. St. Augustine’s six scoring drives covered 75, 70, 53, 90, 53 and 40 yards.

The search for a silver lining in this loss really comes up empty.

There are a lot of areas for improvement with eight games left in the regular season. At this juncture, the level of improved execution necessary for the Cubs to be a factor in league competition is more than substantial.

Loyola will travel to Cathedral next Friday. The Phantoms (2-1) handled Carson on Friday, 40-21. The Cubs have significant work to do before their battle with Cathedral.

LOYOLA LOOKS FOR REBOUND ON FRIDAY AGAINST ANOTHER FORMIDABLE FOE

"Never again" should be the mantra for the Cubs as they move forward from last week’s 42-5 demolition at the hands of state number 15-ranked St. Augustine in San Diego. The forgettable venture down south must be put in the rear view mirror with no look back as Loyola will try to get back on track in week three. “Never again” can there be the lack of execution and mistake-prone effort which were the hallmarks of the disaster against the Saints if the Cubs still intend to reach their 2019 goals.

Loyola travels to Cathedral (2-1) on Friday night for its next non-league battle on a schedule that is as tough as they come. The looming contest against the favored Phantoms will be no walk in the park.

Cathedral’s sophomore signal calling prodigy, Lucas Lenhoff, has thrown for 1,118 yards and nine touchdowns in THREE games. Many high school quarterbacks would be pleased with those stats in a 10-game regular season. Lenhoff has a bevy of talented offensive targets to whom he spreads the ball at a 68% completion clip.

Senior Venice transfer Chad Johnson, Jr. (6-3, 187) leads the fast, sure handed wide receiver corps. The son of former NFL star Chad “Ochocinco”, he is the real deal. Johnson has an uber talented group of battery mates. Suffice to say, the Big Blue secondary will be tested early and often.

If the Cub ‘Wolkpack’ can put pressure on Lenhoff, Loyola’s chance to prevail will be significantly enhanced. On the other side of the ball, the Phantoms bring the heat. Their stop squad is spearheaded by outstanding linebackers. The Big Blue’s offensive line must step up on Friday night.

Junior offensive lineman Nathan Mejia (6-3, 265) is the centerpiece of a gargantuan Phantom line platoon which includes players listed at 385, 367 and 355 pounds.

Loyola does possess the talent to defeat a Cathedral team coming off a 40-21 victory over Carson. Will the Cubs make the leap in terms of the execution and physicality needed to secure a win? The answer should come into focus early in Friday evening’s much anticipated fray. It is not necessarily a referendum or a bellwether contest for the Big Blue, but the direction of the campaign may well follow the outcome.

At this juncture, every game is a veritable playoff contest. Next Friday’s opponent, Valencia, has outscored its first two opponents by the combined score of 129-26. The perilous gauntlet is unrelenting and unforgiving. The Cubs have a tough row to hoe for the remainder of the season, as each future opponent on the schedule is formidable. “Never again” needs to be the mindset of the Big Blue from this point forward. It’s gut check time for Loyola.

FORMER CUBS IN COLLEGE

Two former Cub MVPs, MYLES BRYANT ‘16 (Washington safety and team captain) and TOMMY VANIS ‘18 (Cal linebacker) were part of defensive slugfest in a lightning-delayed game played in Seattle last Saturday and early Sunday morning. Vanis’s Bears upset the Huskies, 20-19.

Loyola’s 2014 Defensive MVP CHRISTIAN RECTOR ‘15 played a big role as a defensive lineman for USC in the Trojans’ 45-20 romp over Stanford at the Coliseum on Saturday.

LOYOLA GRADS IN THE NFL

Former Cub star ANTHONY BARR’s Minnesota Vikings opened their NFL campaign with a 28-12 win over the Atlanta Falcons. A 6-5, 255 lb. inside linebacker, Barr is a four time Pro Bowl player, was a consensus All American at UCLA and the recipient of the Lott IMPACT Award, which is bestowed on the best defensive player in collegiate football.

DAVID LONG ‘16 (Michigan), an All-American corner on Loyola’s 2015 squad which finished the season ranked 17th in the state, and COLEMAN SHELTON ‘14, an All-League lineman for the Cubs in 2013, are members of the Los Angeles Rams, who defeated the Carolina Panthers, 30-27 on Sunday.

Former Cub All-CIF tackle CHRIS BROWN ‘15 (USC), is a practice squad player for the Los Angeles Chargers who opened the season with a 30-24 home win over the Indianapolis Colts.

LOYOLA OVERPOWERED BY ST. AUGUSTINE IN SAN DIEGO

In its second non-league contest of the season Loyola ran into a proverbial buzz saw, as St. Augustine, the defending CIF San Diego Section Division I champion and 19th ranked team in California, made short work of the Cubs in an overpowering 42-5 beatdown at Morse College in San Diego on Friday night. On the home team’s first possession, the Saints methodically drove 75 yards for a touchdown in three minutes and three seconds, and never looked back.

Loyola threw an interception on its first possession, but St. Augustine gave the ball right back on a fumble recovered by the Cubs at their own 45-yard line. After driving for a first-and-goal at the Saints’ six yard line, set up by a beautiful, diving 48-yard reception by junior wide receiver CEYAIR WRIGHT on a perfectly thrown ball by junior quarterback BRAYDEN ZERMENO, the suffocating St. Augustine defense held Loyola to a 20-yard DIEGO BURGOS field goal, allowing the visitors to close the gap to 7-3 at the 4:32 mark of the first quarter. Those three points would the only points the Big Blue would put on the board in the game.

The Cub ‘Wolfpack’ defense, which was on the field most of the night, gave up another TD just eight seconds into the second quarter. The six-pointer capped a well-executed 70-yard drive. Still within striking distance, down 14-3, Loyola was hanging on until it fell victim to a 40-yard fourth down touchdown pass with 43 seconds left in the first half. For all intents and purposes, that was the death knell as the beleaguered Cubs trudged into the locker room on the short end of a 21-3 count at intermission.

Loyola sophomore kick returner TAHJ OWENS took the second half kickoff back 54 yards on a brilliant return-he sprinted 40 yards on the game’s second kickoff-but once again the fast and physical Saints defense forced yet another punt. Owens was one of the few bright spots of the night for the Cubs, both as a returner and running back.

St. Augustine promptly drove 90 yards on its ensuing possession, scoring on a 15-yard pass with 6:05 left in the third quarter. Less than three minutes later, following a Loyola fourth down fumble, the Saints increased their lead to 35-3 on a six play, 53-yard scoring drive. St. Augustine scored its final TD of the evening on a 25-yard pass to cap a 40-yard drive just seven seconds into the final stanza. With less than two minutes left in the game, Loyola’s defense forced a safety against the Saints reserves to make the final score 42-5.

The Cubs were clobbered by a much more talented team that was bigger, faster, stronger and had more athletes. The home squad’s line platoons dominated most of the evening. It would have taken a near perfect effort for Loyola to have made it a game. And, unfortunately, the effort was far from perfect.

St. Augustine’s defense was in attack mode all night, and the Cubs had no answers for the onslaught. Other than the drive which culminated in a field goal, Loyola’s offensive possessions ended as follows: interception, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, fumble, interception, interception, and clock running out.

Meanwhile, the Saints were forced to punt just twice and fumbled twice. St. Augustine’s six scoring drives covered 75, 70, 53, 90, 53 and 40 yards.

The search for a silver lining in this loss really comes up empty.

There are a lot of areas for improvement with eight games left in the regular season. At this juncture, the level of improved execution necessary for the Cubs to be a factor in league competition is more than substantial.

Loyola will travel to Cathedral next Friday. The Phantoms (2-1) handled Carson on Friday, 40-21. The Cubs have significant work to do before their battle with Cathedral.

LOYOLA’S SCHEDULE RATCHETS UP STARTING FRIDAY IN SAN DIEGO

Loyola cruised to a 38-0 opening game victory over an inferior opponent in Playa del Rey St. Bernard on August 30, but the sledding will be exponentially more difficult this Friday as the Cubs travel to Mesa College in San Diego to take on the number 19th-ranked team in California, the Saints of St. Augustine.

Suffice to say, it will be a steep uphill challenge for Loyola as it looks to upset the 2018 CIF San Diego Section Division I champions. The Saints return 18 starters from last season’s state playoff squad. St. Augustine rolled over its first two non-league opponents, Bonita Vista and Eastlake, by the combined score of 84-7. The Cubs fell to the Saints at home last fall, 28-10. Both teams are better this year, but whether Loyola’s improvement will enable it to be in the contest from a competitive standpoint is a much debated question as the Cubs prepare for the trek down Interstate 5.

Leading the way for St. Augustine’s high-scoring offense are junior running back BYRON CARDWELL (6-0, 200), dynamic senior QB ANGELO PERAZA, senior wide receiver SAM SCAIFE (6-2, 206) and senior tight end MICHAEL AMBAGTSHEER (6-4, 248). Ambagtsheer dominated the Cubs last fall, picking up over 200 receiving yards. He has 20 scholarship offers. Cardwell amassed 1,521 all-purpose yards as a sophomore, and already has offers from the likes of USC and UCLA. The Saints’ potent offense is supported by a big, strong offensive front led by senior NICK SYLVESTER (6-0, 270).

St. Augustine’s defense is an imposing, physical shut down unit. In the Saints’ 47-0 rout of Eastlake last Friday, they held the Tritons to negative rushing yards. Nose guard CHRISTIAN GAETA (6-1, 280) is an immovable force in the middle. The exceptionally strong line anchor creates utter havoc in opposing offensive backfields. The linebacker crew is big and tough, and the Saint secondary is fast and athletic.

Scorebook Live California ranks St. Augustine the number one team in San Diego County, and thus far the Saints have more than earned their spot atop the rankings.

The keys for Loyola to have success will be the play of its much improved offensive line, which will have its hands full all night with Gaeta and company, and the defense’s ability to slow down St. Augustine’s powerful running game. If the Cubs struggle in those areas it could lead to a depressing return bus ride to Los Angeles. Loyola showed toughness in its win last week. It will need to turn up the burners to full blast this Friday to have a chance. The Cubs must be in attack mode all night to secure a statement-making victory.

LOYOLA SAN DIEGO ALUMNI HOSTING TAILGATE AT MESA COLLEGE
Before Friday’s 7:00 pm kickoff, the San Diego area Loyola alumni will be hosting a tailgate get together starting at 5:00 pm in the parking area east of the Mesa College stadium where the solar panels are located. All Loyola supporters are welcome, but it would be best to bring your own food and beverages.

A LOOK AT LOYOLA GRADS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL
MYLES BRYANT ‘16, the University of Washington’s starting All-PAC-12 free safety led the Huskies in tackles (nine with TFL) in U-Dub’s 47-14 season opening victory over Eastern Washington on Saturday. Bryant is one of two team captains at Washington and is on the Jim Thorpe, Bednarik, and Lott IMPACT watch lists. The highly talented DB was Loyola’s MVP on the 2015 team that finished 9-3 and 17th in the state.

There are currently 27 former Cubs playing college football.

TWO CUBS ON RAMS ACTIVE ROSTER
Third round 2018 draft pick DAVID LONG ‘16, an All-American/All-State/ All-CIF corner for the Big Blue in 2015, and later an All-Big-10 DB at Michigan, made the Los Angeles Rams’ 53-player active roster. On Monday former Cub All-League lineman COLEMAN SHELTON ‘14 (All-PAC-12 lineman at Washington) was picked up by the Rams from the Arizona Cardinals, and is now on the Rams’ active NFL roster.

With Long and Shelton on the Rams’ roster, it marks the first time two former Cubs were on the same NFL team at the same time.

Former All-CIF offensive lineman CHRIS BROWN ‘15 (USC) made the Los Angeles Chargers’ practice squad.

LOYOLA SHOWS POSITIVE SIGNS IN 38-0 SEASON-OPENING VICTORY OVER ST. BERNARD

Loyola kicked off the Drew Casani coaching era with a dominating 38-0 demolition of St. Bernard at Smith Field on Friday night. In fairness, the significance to be accorded the Cubs’ impressive opening game performance of 2019 must be tempered with the reality that the undersized Vikings dressed only 28 players and were otherwise woefully outmanned by a Loyola crew that was bigger, faster and stronger than its non-league opponent from Playa del Rey.

The most important takeaway from the contest for the Cubs was the MANNER in which they played the first football game of the season. There was a notably physical aspect to Loyola’s efforts on offense, defense and special teams. Toughness has been a glaringly absent component of the Big Blue’s ethos, with of course some exceptions, for over a decade.

It is way too early to declare that the program has turned the proverbial corner, especially given the quality of Friday’s foe. St. Bernard was ranked 511th in the state by CalPreps heading into the contest. The Cubs’ next game is against the 19th ranked team in the state, the St. Augustine Saints, on the road in San Diego. So a much more realistic barometer of where Loyola is in terms of cultural change will reveal itself this Friday at Mesa College against a squad that returns 18 starters from the CIF San Diego Section Division II championship group, all of whom are exponentially better than the crew Loyola faced in its opener.

Perhaps the most gratifying aspect of the Cub victory against St. Bernard was the swarming, gang tackling performance of the ‘Wolfpack’ defense. Led by a cadre of hard hitters, Loyola’s stop unit was swarming and smothering all night. The Vikings were held to a paltry 86 yards of total offense, 27 yards passing and 59 yards on the ground, and St. Bernard garnered just two first downs.

Leading defensive coordinator Mike Gilhooly’s attacking platoon were senior inside linebacker STEVEN ARELLANO (14 tackles, 9 unassisted tackles, 3 TFL) and senior nose guard MARIANO UY (8 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL). Senior outside linebacker CALVIN LAUGHLIN (6 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 TFL), senior inside linebacker NIKKO GONZALEZ (8 tackles), senior defensive lineman BARRET KELLY (7 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL), junior defensive lineman JEFF JOHNSON (6 tackles, 1 sack), and junior outside linebacker FINNEGAN POWELL (7 tackles, 3 TFL) all put up impressive numbers. The physical play of junior corner ZAKHARI SPEARS was also praised by Casani. The ‘Wolfpack’ completed shut down the Vikings’s heralded running back, Jakai Torres, who rushed for 1,770 yards in 2018.

The debut of new offensive coordinator Matthew Hatchette could not have gone much better as Loyola amassed 355 yards of total offense behind excellent play calls. Not surprisingly, several of the stars from last year’s league champion freshman team, one of the school’s best ever, accounted for the vast majority of yardage gained and 30 of 38 of the Cubs’ points scored. Sophomore running backs TAHJ OWENS (11 carries for 117 yards, 10.6 ypc, 2 TDs) and HARRISON ALLEN (12 carries, 90 yards, 7.5 ypc, 2 TDS ) made impressive varsity debuts. Equally impressive was the performance of sophomore wide receiver JACOBY KELLY (3 receptions, 101 yards, 33.7 yards per reception, 1 TD), who was robbed by the referees of one long distance circus catch reception which was erroneously ruled incomplete.

Making his first start at quarterback was junior transfer BRAYDEN ZERMENO, who finished the evening with 162 yards on 10 of 15 attempts (67 %). He also threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Kelly. The 6’4”, 218 lb. Zermeno showed off a strong arm and quick release. He also gained 36 yards on three carries.

Casani was quick to laud the efforts of the offensive line comprised of senior tackles SAM DOMINGUEZ (6-3, 255) and SHANE STROYKE (6-5, 315), senior center NICK ANDERSON 6-0, 270), senior guard HUNTER SAMUELSON (6-5, 265) and sophomore guard SAM YOON (6-4, 245). The line corps made numerous pancake blocks.

Special teams’ tackling on the kickoff and punt return units was impressive. Senior kicker DIEGO BURGOS was five-for-five on PATs and kicked a 30-yard field goal in the third quarter to put the Big Blue up 31-0.

Allen scored Loyola’s first and final touchdowns on runs of 30 and 17 yards. Owens scored on sprints of 59 and six yards. Zermeno’s TD throw to Kelly came in the third quarter.

Toughness was on display to open the season. It will take relentless physicality and near perfect execution for the Cubs to topple the number two-ranked team in the CIF San Diego Section this Friday as Loyola continues in its quest to change the trajectory of its storied football program.

Just how tough are these guys? Stay tuned.

The Media picks Loyola to finish last in league - Cubs have different ideas

The Los Angeles Times' rankings published Sunday included four of Loyola's Mission League opponents among the Southland's top 25 teams. The ranked Mission League foes were, in order, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (9th), Gardena Serra (13th), Bishop Amat (15th) and Alemany (18th). Non-league opponents Valencia (22nd) and Cathedral (24th) were also included in the most recent top 25 rankings. The CalPreps state rankings place Mission League rival Chaminade above the Cubs, and MaxPreps ranks next week's non-league combatant, San Diego St. Augustine, 19th in the state. Pre-league foe Vista Murrieta also is ranked higher than Loyola by CalPreps..

St Bernard, against whom the Cubs open the 2019 campaign at 7:00 p.m. this Friday at Smith Field, is the only school on Loyola's regular season schedule to be ranked lower than the Big Blue.

So the media has little regard for the Cubs, as projections would have Loyola winning just a single game as it did in 2018.

Suffice to say, the Big Blue has different ideas as to how this season will play out. The talent level is up, the coaching staff is excellent and the prospects for success are promising; however, for a change in the program's trajectory to be accomplished, there will have to be a significant upgrade in the way the Cubs play the game.

Former Utah, Florida and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer recently said he never coached a game where the TOUGHER team did not win. Alabama's Nick Saban tells his troops that they must be a team that nobody wants to play. For generations Loyola was usually the tougher team on any given Friday. Will The Cubs be so this fall?

Bottom line, Loyola needs to be a tougher team from top to bottom if it hopes to break the cycle of mediocrity that has plagued the program for most of the last 13 seasons. On Friday night, whether the toughness component has returned will begin to show.

A LOOK AT GAME ONE THIS FRIDAY

ST. BERNARD VIKINGS

Vikes feature one of Southland’s best running backs - Friday marks first game between schools in 38 years

A LOOK AT THE VIKINGS

St. Bernard head coach JOE TORRES told Scorebook Live California, “I expect . . . not only to win [Santa Fe] league again but for us to make it to our division championship and possibly state.” The Vikings’ head man has good reason for such lofty goals. St. Bernard finished 9-3 last season before losing to Pomona Garey in the CIF Division 13 playoff quarterfinals.

The biggest cause for optimism on the sand dunes of Playa del Rey heading into the 2019 campaign is the return of one of the Southland’s top rushers, senior running back JAKAI TORRES (5-11, 190). Torres, ranked as one of the best eleven running backs in the area by the Los Angeles Times, rushed for 1,770 yards and a whopping 32 touchdowns last fall. The major college recruit not only possesses power and speed as a ball carrier, but he is also a sure handed receiver out of the backfield and a dangerous kick returner.

Sophomore quarterback JOSH COLEMAN will look to veteran senior wide receiver ISAIAH ROBINSON (6-1, 200) to take the top off of defenses.

Torres lost six starters from last season’s defense but he expects the Norsemen to have a stingy stop unit nonetheless.

As of mid-August, MaxPreps listed only 27 players on St. Bernard’s roster, so lack of depth could be an issue in Friday’s non-league battle. The Vikes do have the advantage of last week’s dominant 27-0 opening game victory against Salesian under their belts coming into Friday's contest.

OUTLOOK

Loyola has greater depth and probably more playmakers than St. Bernard, but if Torres gets off to a hot start, the Vikings may be able to make a game of it going into the fourth quarter.

THE SERIES

There is a nexus between St. Bernard and Loyola that not many folks are not aware of. In 1972, the Vikings trounced the Cubs 33-7 at Inglewood’s Sentinel Field in the schools’ first ever meeting in football.

St. Bernard head coach MARTY SHAUGNESSY and his defensive coordinator JON DAWSON were hot commodities on the high school coaching circuit after the Vikings’ standout campaign. Lo and behold, their next coaching stop was Loyola, where in just three short years the Cubs were crowned CIF AAAA and National Champions after completing a 13-0 season in 1975.

While Shaughnessy moved on to L.B. City College, Dawson remained as Loyola’s DC for two decades. His defensive platoons allowed an average of less than 10 points per game, an utterly amazing statistic.

Loyola leads the series with the Vikings, 3-1. The Cubs defeated St Bernard 27-9 in 1979, 10-3 in 1980, and 15-3 in 1981.

Is this the year the tide turns for Cub Football?

A new coaching staff, veteran leaders combined with youthful talent could change the trajectory of the program.

The now thirteen-year interregnum in Loyola’s historically lofty place among the best prep football programs in California continued last fall with a dismal 1-9 campaign, the school’s worst record in 46 years.

Since the Cubs last captured a CIF Southern Section Division I title in 2005 (its tenth Large Schools crown), Loyola has won a grand total of one CIF playoff game and made it to the playoffs just three times over the course of thirteen seasons.

Juxtapose that disappointing skid with the preceding 13 years: the Cubs played in 34 playoff contests and were victorious in 27 of those games, which included two CIF Southern Section Division I championships (2003 and 2005); the Big Blue appeared in an additional three CIF Division I championship final tilts (1995, 1996 and 2000) and advanced to the playoff semifinals a total of seven times.

In that thirteen-year span, Loyola made it to at least the quarterfinal round of the playoffs every season. From 1974 through 2005, the Cubs participated in the highest division of the CIF Southern Section playoffs 31 out of 32 years.

The causes of Loyola’s downturn in football fortune have been the subject of much debate-sometimes spirited. Among the obvious problems have been the lack of sustained coaching continuity. Since STEVE GRADY ‘63 retired from the head coaching post in the spring of 2005 after compiling a brilliant 269-76-6 record over three decades, there have been a total of six head coaches at the program’s helm.

There are myriad other theories as to what caused the decline, and most have more than a semblance of validity. The only outlier in that time frame was the 2017 squad which finished 9-3 and notched the number 17 spot in the final CalHi Sports state rankings.

Will the longest prolonged drought in Cub Football annals end in 2019? Will this season mark the first step in a return to sustained prominence after a long slog of comparative mediocrity? The answer will begin to show in less than three weeks when Playa del Rey St. Bernard visits Smith Field for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff on August 30 in the season opener.

New head man DREW CASANI ‘91, a Loyola football icon, has put together the best coaching staff the program has seen in a long while. Casani has taken on his new tasks with a sense of urgency and keen focus. He has emphasized to his players they are not beholden to the days of yore, but they should revere the standards which made the program great: team first, sacrifice, commitment and physicality. Suffice to say, Casani has keen insight into what is needed to right the ship and has expeditiously dedicated himself to taking the steps required to make his program competitive.

The first-year head man is excited about the senior leadership demonstrated by a large number of stalwart players who are determined to change the trajectory of Cub Football.

Casani noted that there is talent in every position group, something that has not been the norm of late. While depth is an issue, the skill set of the starters should allow Loyola to compete effectively in every game on its schedule. As a veteran NFL scout, Casani knows talent when he sees it.

A player at the top of the list of senior team leaders and returning starters is bruising inside linebacker STEVEN ARELLANO. The 5-11, 213 lb. monster in the middle possesses many of the same traits as his head coach, who, as an inside linebacker, earned CIF Division I Player-of-the-Year honors after helping lead Loyola to the 1990 CIF Southern Section Division I championship. Arellano is a ferocious hitter who plays the game with uncommon ferocity.

Senior SAM DOMINGUEZ (6-2, 256) is another senior standout lauded by Casani. A talented mauler, Dominguez returns at left tackle on offense and could see part-time duty on the D-line.

DOMINICK BELISLE, a 6-1, 191 lb. outside linebacker, is another in the group of tough senior leaders, who is poised for a difference-making campaign.

There is no player on the squad who plays with more energy and passion than senior outside linebacker CARTER LINK( (6-1, 210).

Casani praised the improvement of senior safety EVAN THOMAS (6-0, 173), who has adapted well to his move from corner.

A key cog in the offensive attack is senior tight end BRENDAN PERNECKY (6-4, 231). He is expected to have a big year, as both a receiver and a blocker.

Another impressive senior leader is slot receiver/ backup quarterback TOMMY HATTON (6-0, 190). Hatton did a superior job behind center during the spring before the June arrival of junior quarterback BRAYDEN ZERMENO (6-4, 218). Zermeno is an impressive signal caller.

Casani is looking for big results from uber talented junior corners CEYAIR WRIGHT (6-0,170) and ZAKHARI SPEARS (6-3, 185). The duo has 24 major college scholarship offers between them with two more years of high school football still remaining. Wright’s most recent offer came from the University of Notre Dame.

Loyola’s freshman team last fall was among the school’s best of all time. Averaging 46 points per outing, the first string unit played very little in the third quarter of most contests. But for some of the most blatantly biased officiating ever witnessed at Vista Murrieta, the Cubs (9-1) would have finished unbeaten.

Several players from the Mission League champion freshman squad will play prominent roles on the varsity this fall. Co-MVPs JACOBY KELLY (6-1, 182) and PETER VANIS (5-10, 171) are two of the best sophomore wide receivers in the Southland. Running back HARRISON ALLEN (5-9, 171) is special, as is running back TAHJ OWENS (5-9, 172), who will also lend his skills to the secondary. Sophomore guard SAM YOON (6-4, 245) is vying for a starting job on the offensive line. His chief competition is from junior ANDRES PEREZ (6-3, 221). All five of the precocious sophomores have big careers ahead of them. Also, look out for tough sophomore inside linebacker PATRICK SODL (5-10, 182) and speedy, sure-handed sophomore tight end JOE TAYLOR (6-3, 182). Sophomore backup quarterback JOE TATUM (5-10, 165) was brilliant as the freshman field general last fall.

Among other seniors who will contribute to a potential turnaround season are behemoth offensive tackle SHAYNE STROYKE (6-5, 305), center NICK ANDERSON (6-5, 271) and guard HUNTER SAMUELSON (6-5, 267).

Senior brawlers up front on the defensive side include two very fast and strong players, BARRET KELLY (6-1, 221) and martial arts expert MARIANO UY (5-9, 222).

Senior inside linebacker NIKKO GONZALEZ (6-1, 210) and senior safety BLAKE NEITHART (5-9, 175) are being counted on to have banner campaigns.

The last time Loyola’s varsity lost nine games was in 1972. That year’s freshman team finished 8-1. Last season’s varsity went 1-9 and the Cub freshmen put together a dominant 9-1 campaign. Could there be parallels between squads that are separated by 47 years? The 1972 freshman class helped lead Loyola to an undefeated 13-0 season and the CIF AAAA title and National Championship as seniors three years later.

Cautious optimism might be in order as the 2019 Cub Football season is about to get underway.

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.