Loyola has chance for football playoffs after all

The Los Angeles Time’s Eric Sondheimer tweeted yesterday that the CIF Southern Section does not consider strength of schedule for teams with under .500 records in making playoff selections. Accordingly, if Alemany loses on Friday to favored Mission League leader Serra, it will have zero chance of making the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoff field as it would finish with a 3-7 record. If Loyola defeats Notre Dame it would finish the regular season with a 4-6 record and would be chosen ahead of Alemany even though one of the Warriors’ wins was against Loyola. Meanwhile the other two schools vying for Division 1 playoff at-large consideration are Tesoro of the South Coast League and Servite of the Trinity League, both of whom have 4-5 records. Servite plays Santa Margarita Friday. If the Friars lose they would drop to 4-6, and the fact that Loyola defeated Bishop Amat whereas Servite lost to the Lancers would probably be enough for the Cubs to get the nod over the Friars. Tesoro is a prohibitive favorite over Trabuco Hills in its league finale. Loyola therefore needs to root for Santa Margarita to down Servite, hope for an improbable upset of Tesoro by Trabuco Hills while taking care of business against the Knights.

 There is still a glimmer of playoff hope in Cubville. Friday’s Senior Night kickoff against the Knights at Smith Field on the campus at Loyola in the teams’ 50th all-time meeting is at 7:00 p.m.

 A look at Notre Dame

Head coach Kevin Rooney’s Knights feature a perfectly balanced offense. Notre Dame was averaging 156 yards rushing and 152 yards passing going into last week’s battle with archrival Crespi. The offensive triggerman is junior Erik Zimmerman (6-1,180) who had thrown for 972 yards heading into the Crespi game. The Knights have a beast in the backfield with power back Kylan Wilborn (6-2, 240). The bruising runner had gained 522 yards at a 5.7 yards-per-carry clip going into the contest with the Celts. Notre Dame’s top receiver is speedy Khalid Taylor who had hauled in 24 receptions for 344 yards and three TDs before last Friday’s skirmish. He doubles as an electric running back with an 8.0 yards-per-carry average. Taylor rushed for 233 yards against Cresp last Friday in the Knights’ victory over archrival Crespi. Junior WR Cameron Jones has jets. His six receptions have averaged 37.7 yards. Senior Tyler Asemota (6-4, 205) is a big target who can move. He has 227 receiving yards, averaging 16.2 yards per catch.

Wilborn is the Knights’ defensive leader, and the physical defensive end plays with equal ferocity on the defensive side of the ball as he does on offense. Taylor doubles as a shutdown corner. While Notre Dame was winless in the Mission League going into last Friday’s contest, the Knights have given every league foe a run its money.

Outlook

Notre Dame has a enough weapons on both sides of the ball to make tonight’s game a fight to the finish. The keys for Loyola will be to slow down Wilborn and limit big plays by Taylor. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will have the advantage.

 The series

Loyola’s rivalry with Notre Dame dates back to 1950 in the days of the old Catholic League. The Jack Bouchard-coached Cubs defeated the Knights, 37-14, in the first game between the schools. Loyola holds a 32-17-0 advantage in the series against Notre Dame. Last season the Cubs routed the Knights by a score of 45-14.