Loyola’s season ends with a heartbreaking, 26-24, loss to Notre Dame

Loyola’s chance for an invitation to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs which get underway this Friday ended in the agonizing, waning moments of its final Mission League game of the 2016 campaign when a two-point conversion attempt which could have sent the contest against Notre Dame into overtime at Smith Field on Senior Night came up a few inches short of success.

 Junior corner ALEX JOHNSON’s pick-six late in the first quarter put the Cubs ahead 10-7. It would be the last lead of the game for Loyola as the Knights built a 20-10 advantage going into halftime. Notre Dame put together a run-dominated 99-yard scoring drive in the third quarter to extend its lead to 26-10, and it was looking like the game might get away from the home team. But the Cubs came to life as their defense stepped up and the offense scored with 10:49 left in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard run by senior running back PATRICK O’REILLY on a counter play behind senior tackle CAMERON HANSON. Senior receiver JACK WEBSTER made the catch on a crossing route for the two point conversion to close the gap to 26-18. Loyola scored again with just 35 seconds left on the clock on a perfectly thrown 40-yard post route pass from senior quarterback SEAN O’MALLEY to Johnson to cap a brilliantly executed 88-yard hurry-up drive that started with just a minute and a half to play, making the score 26-24 in favor of the Knights. Then came the critical two-point conversion try to tie the score. O’Malley’s run to the right came up just short of the goal line, extinguishing any hope the Cubs had to make the playoffs. Alemany (3-7) lost to Mission League champ Serra (7-3), and Servite (4-6) fell to Santa Margarita (4-6). Those outcomes would have made Loyola’s chances for a playoff invitation viable had the Big Blue been able to pull out a victory, given that the Cubs had beaten common opponent Bishop Amat and Servite had lost to the Lancers.

 Loyola (3-7) lost four games by a combined total of eight points this season (St. Augustine (17-14), Cathedral (21-19), Alemany (17-16) and Notre Dame (26-24). If the Cubs could have turned just a couple of those close losses into wins, they would have made the elite Division 1 playoff field. By no means, though, does the final record reflect the character of this Loyola team, which battled hard to overcome major early adversity for the entire season.

 Cub sophomore team completes 8-2 season with 23-13 victory over Notre Dame

Loyola’s sophomore squad defeated Notre Dame’s JV team, 23-13, last Thursday in Sherman Oaks, coming back from an early 13-0 deficit to complete an 8-2 (5-1 in league) campaign and secure a second place finish in the Mission League.

 Loyola freshmen football blows out talented Notre Dame in league finale

Last Thursday, Loyola’s freshman football team concluded its 2016 season at Hank Hernandez Memorial Field with an impressive 42-14 rout of conference-leader Sherman Oaks Notre Dame which was undefeated in league play coming into the Mission League finale. The Knights were without their outstanding starting QB (concussion protocol), who by all accounts is a difference maker, but it probably would not have mattered if he had participated as the Cubs played their best game of the season in all phases, especially on defense and special teams. The first half was dominated by Loyola as it built an insurmountable 27-0 advantage by intermission. 

 As he has all season, running back KEVIN PARADA put on a show of speed and power behind strong blocking by the Cub offensive line. Parada had quite the stat line as he scored all four of Loyola’s first half touchdowns on runs of 2, 85, 87 and 5 yards. For good measure in the second half, Parada raced around end for another 65 yards, setting up his ensuing fifth TD of the contest on a 5-yard scamper. Linebacker CARTER LINK put icing on the Cubs’ victory cake as he returned an interception for a touchdown with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Loyola’s triumph forced the Knights to share the league title with Bishop Amat, both of whom had only one league loss. Notre Dame came into the contest with very impressive wins over Alemany (21-14), Bishop Amat (35-19), Serra (35-20), Chaminade (42-14) and Crespi (33-7). The Cub defense played outstanding football all afternoon. Loyola’s special teams also performed exceptionally well.

 Earlier this year it was said here that this freshman squad might be special. If all of the key contributors return next season and work hard in the weight room during the offseason, good things will definitely be in store for Cub Football down the road. Loyola finished the campaign 6-4, with three of the losses coming late in games after the Cubs allowed comeback efforts as a result of frustrating miscues. The key for this group going forward will be an exceptional training commitment in the offseason and retention of squad members on a team that had over 90 players on the roster. 

 Keeping tabs on former Cubs in the Pac-12

Loyola grads continue to excel in Pac-12 conference football. Rimington Award candidate COLEMAN SHELTON ’13 once again had an outstanding game at center for Washington in its high-scoring win over Cal on Saturday . . . defensive back MYLES BRYANT ’16 saw action as a true freshman for the Huskies as well . . . Across the ball from Shelton was Cal’s starting nickel back CAMERON WALKER ’13 . . . Stanford kicker CONRAD UKROPINA ‘12 had a career high 53-yard field goal among his school record four field goals in the Cardinal’s win over Oregon State . . . Offensive guard CHRIS BROWN ‘14 is a big contributor up front for USC, which defeated Oregon on Saturday . . . In the Washington vs. USC game this Saturday there will be six former Cubs on the field (Washington: Shelton, Bryant, John Turner; USC: Brown, Christian Rector and Reuben Peters) . . . STEFAN FLINTOFT ’14 is punting for the UCLA Bruins.

 Cub water polo squad stuns archrival Harvard-Westlake 6-4 to capture Mission League crown and earn number one seed in CIF Division I playoffs

Loyola’s varsity water polo team stunned archrival Harvard-Westlake, the top ranked team in Division I of the CIF Southern Section last Wednesday night at USC, notching a dramatic 6-4 victory over the Wolverines, and in turn securing the Mission League title. The Cubs earlier defeated Mater Dei in one of its best matches of the season. The win over top-ranked Harvard-Westlake, coupled with the victory over Mater Dei, earned Loyola the number one seed in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs that get underway this week. The Cubs defeated Mira Costa in a non-league match on Saturday to finish the regular season with a 21-6 overall record. The prep editor of the Los Angeles Times predicted that number two seed Harvard-Westlake will win the CIF title. Just a little extra incentive for Loyola. The Cubs host Los Osos in the first round on Wednesday at USC.

 Loyola cross country squad has historic day in Mission League championship meet as Cubs win 20th consecutive title

On Thursday at Crescenta Valley Park, Loyola’s varsity cross country team not only won its 20th consecutive league championship under head coach Lalao Diaz and his dedicated staff, but also for the first time in Cub harrier annals, the first seven runners to cross the finish line wore Loyola uniforms. The goal is to win the CIF Southern Section Division II title and a second consecutive California State Championship. This group could end up as Loyola’s all-time best.