Loyola senior quarterback and team captain SEAN O’MALLEY enters Friday’s critically important game against Alemany with 1,256 passing yards and nine touchdown tosses. He is also a threat running the ball, which he has done more of in recent games. O’Malley has 262 rushing yards to his credit averaging 4.1 yards per carry.
The Cubs’ top runner is two-way standout, junior JACOB McBRIDE. He is a tough hombre who has gained 396 yards with an impressive 6.5 yards per carry average. Senior PATRICK O’REILLY has churned out 281 yards thus far. Before the bye week junior DAKOTA SMITH saw his first action at tailback and carried the ball just five times for 131 yards, including game-winning TD sprints of 52 and 70 yards. It’s a good bet Smith will see more action as a runner.
Loyola’s go-to receiver is senior JACK WEBSTER, who has 41 receptions for 554 yards (13.5 yds. per reception average) and three touchdowns. Senior tight end CONNOR BEADLES has snagged 22 passes for 229 yards.
The centerpiece of the Cub ‘Wolfpack’ defense is senior inside linebacker WINSTON ANAWALT, who leads the team with 79 tackles, including 39 solo stops. He also has three sacks to his credit. Second on the tackle list is junior linebacker TOMMY VANIS who has 49, including 22 solos. Vanis also has logged three sacks. The third leading tackler is nickel Jacob McBride with 42 , including 28 solos. McBride is tied with senior defensive lineman SINJUN ASTANI for the team lead in sacks with four. Senior safety RYAN PARKS is fourth on the tackle list with 38, including 20 solo stops. Parks also has two interceptions. Junior corner ALEX JOHNSON leads the defense with three interceptions.
The Loyola rushing attack had its most productive outing of the season with 332 yards against Crespi on October 14. If the Cubs run the ball well on Friday their chance of winning will increase substantially. O’Malley likely will have to contribute on the ground as well as through the air. Crespi nearly upset Alemany before falling 13-11 on a 20-yard field goal in the waning moments of the game played a month ago. The reason the Celts, who enter their Friday showdown with archrival Notre Dame without a league win, stayed in the contest to the end is that they limited the Warriors to just 37 offensive plays. Alemany has averaged 53 offensive plays in its other seven games. Ball control will be critical for the Big Blue in Friday’s playoff elimination game.
A capacity home crowd is expected for the 7:00 p.m. kickoff at Smith Field on Loyola’s campus.
Keeping tabs on Cub grads
Former All-Serra League tackle COLEMAN SHELTON ‘13 continues to have an outstanding season at College Football Playoff contender Washington as the starting Rimington Watch List center for the Huskies . . . 2015 Loyola MVP, All-Mission League and All-State special mention DB MYLES BRYANT is seeing extensive playing time for the Huskies as a true freshman, both as a DB and punt return special teams player . . . All-Serra League corner CAMERON WALKER ’13 is Cal’s nickel back and the eighth leading tackler for the Golden Bears in his fourth year as a starter . . . All-Serra League WR CHAZ ANDERSON is the fourth leading receiver for BOISE STATE . . . All-Serra League kicker CONRAD UKROPINA ’12, Stanford’s starting kicker, had made all of his PAT attempts and converted on eight of 11 FG attempts, including a long of 50 yards, going into this week’s game . . . Defensive back MEKAI SHEFFIE ’14, a redshirt sophomore at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, made a team and career high 13 tackles, including 10 solos, in Cal Poly SLO’s win over UC Davis last Saturday.