Loyola football 2016 preview

Loyola is the only program in the ultra-competitive Mission League that has All-CIF Pac 5 Division honoreesreturning to its 2016 squad, andthe two who earned the coveted accolades made major impacts for the Cubs (9-3), who finished the 2015 campaign ranked 17th in the state by CalHi Sports and MaxPreps.

Senior running back DRAKE BEASLEY, JR. (5-11, 195) was the only junior back to earn All-CIF Pac 5 Division honors last season. The centerpiece of the Loyola offensive attack, the first team All-Mission League runningback churned out 1,647 yards (6.6 yds. per carry average) and scored 17 TDs against quality opposition. Regarded as one of the top senior running backs in the country by recruiting evaluators, the team’s Offensive MVP has multiple scholarship offers from schools such as UCLA, Arizona, Cal, Arizona State, Boise State and Pittsburgh, to name a few.  A tough, fast runner with exceptional open field moves, Beasleyhas rushed for 2,000 yards in his career, including part time varsity duty as a sophomore. 

Only three running backs in Cub Football history have earned All-CIF accolades as juniors (Al Pollard, 1945; Frank Layana, 1950; and Mike Bergdahl, 1963), so Beasley, a CalHi Sports All-State Junior selection, has already established himself as one of the top runners in Loyola grid annals. Each of the other three backs who garnered All-CIF recognition as juniors went on to earn All-CIF accolades as seniors. Beasley again will be a huge part of the Cub offense, which averaged over 30 points per game last season.

The other Loyola junior who earned All-CIF Pac 5 Division honors last fall was kicker/punter DIEGO CACHO-SOUSA (6-0, 190). The squad’s Special Teams MVP, Cacho-Sousa converted 10 of 16 field goals, including a school record 53-yarder. He missed only one PAT kick. The majority of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Cacho-Sousa doubles as the squad’s punter, routinely putting opponents in poor field position with well executed boots.

Returning to call signals for the Cubs is senior quarterback SEAN O’MALLEY. The strong armed field general started the final four games of the 2014 campaign as a sophomore and then threw for 1,773 yards at a 61% completion clip last season. He also threw for 15 TDs and had just four passes picked off in 2015. O’Malley has 2,674 career passing yards and 21 touchdowns to his credit. The veteran QB is a major college recruit who is being counted on to have a banner senior campaign.

Loyola’s Defensive MVP and leading tackler returns to spearhead the Cub ‘Wolfpack’ defense. D. WINSTON ANAWALT (6-1, 217) made 98 total tackles in 2015, including 39 solo stops and three sacks from his inside linebacker post. A real warrior at the ‘Mike’ linebacker spot, Anawalt is on the recruiting radar of a number of schools.

A potential X-factor for the Cub defensive unit is senior defensive end SINJUN ASTANI (6-4, 260). Astani definitely passes the eyeball test and has garnered significant recruiting interest, but did not play a great deal as a junior after transferring to Loyola from St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Wisconsin, where he was a decorated athlete as a sophomore. He has received several scholarship offers from colleges in the Midwest. He is expected to be a force on the d-line for the Cubs. Also keep an eye on talented, swift sophomore outside linebacker LOGAN SNEAD (6-1, 195), who arrived at the school from St. Louis in January. Junior defensive end DAKOTA SMITH (6-2, 185) is another talented athlete on the perimeter, who will likely see action at receiver as well. 

Loyola will have avery solid offensive line corps led by seniors ELIAS MANNING (6-2, 261), AUSTIN CHANDLER (6-4, 273), CAMERON HANSON (6-3, 235), and JAKE MILLER (6-2, 225). Expect one or more of those players to also contribute on the defensive front. Juniors TY MAHAR (6-0, 210) and JACK FITZGERALD (6-0, 225) are two underclassmen who are expected to contribute on the lines of scrimmage.

The Cub receiving corps will be in good hands with senior track sprinters JACK WEBSTER (6-0, 188) and JACK HATTON (6-0, 184). Both are superior athletes who will also see time in the defensive backfield. Senior tight end/defensive end CONNOR BEADLES (6-4, 235) may be the surprise contributor on both sides of the ball in 2016. Beadles has an excellent skill set. Senior WILL McCRACKEN (6-0, 170) is a smart, highly dedicated athlete who will see action at receiver while manning one of the safety spots.  Physical junior TOMMY VANIS (6-0, 201) has the skills to be a real impact player at safety. Rugged, tough-as-nails senior PATRICK O’REILLY (5-11, 190) will see double duty as a running back and nickel/linebacker. 

 Junior JACOB McBRIDE (5-7, 160) is a sure handed, precise route runner who will consistently move the chains. Look out for fast rising junior speedster ALEX JOHNSON (6-1, 166) at both wide receiver and in the secondary. Johnson has extraordinary speed and athleticism. Hard-nosed junior nickel back DEAMIL AGUILAR (5-8, 160) possesses excellent coverage skills.

Senior defensive back CADE MOFFATT (6-3,182) has not played since his freshman year, but the smooth, fast athlete could end up proving to be a major contributor in the Cub secondary. Gifted senior kicker GEORGE CARATAN (6-1,197) will be utilized in the kicking game.

Loyola head coach MARVIN SANDERS enters his fourth year at the helm of the Cub program, and he is looking to field a competitive squad again this fall after guiding Loyola to a top 20 finish in California in 2015. The Cubs will be vying for one of 16 playoff spots in Division I, the newly configured 18-school, elite division of the CIF Southern Section. 

 With the return of Loyola’s Offensive MVP and best senior running back in Division I, the squad’s defensive MVP and top tackler, a talented three-year veteran signal caller behind center, and an accurate long range kicker and punter (Special Teams MVP), the Cub cupboard is hardly bare, notwithstanding heavy graduation losses.  If the newcomers produce and last year’s understudies step up as anticipated, 2016 could end up as a memorable campaign.

Loyola will face a very challenging schedule with non-league games against Santa Margarita, San Diego Section Open Division runner-up St. Augustine and Cathedral, as well as showdowns against the loaded teams in the Mission League, including Chaminade, Serra and Bishop Amat (each of which made the playoffs last season). A playoff berth no doubt would be well earned if the Cubs can survive that challenging gauntlet.