With the capacity home crowd’s deafening roar reaching the pitch of a jet engine and the packed Bishop Amat student section frantically waving flashlights in the east end zone of Keifer Memorial Stadium in La Puente directly in the sight line of Loyola’s offense, there were distractions aplenty as Cub senior All-CIF kicker DIEGO CACHO-SOUSA lined up for a 49-yard field goal attempt with four second left in the Mission League opener between the archrivals on a warm autumn night last Friday. And then the Amat coaching staff called a timeout in the hopes of freezing Loyola’s strong-footed special teams standout before what could prove to be the most important kick of his prep career. After the interminable 60-second waiting period, the roar began again, but this time increasing in volume, and the flashing lights seemed to inexplicably double both in number and intensity.
Then the snap. . .then the hold. . .then the foot hitting the ball. . .then the ball traveling end over end through the windless night air – as the Cub Football faithful held their collective breath as time seemingly stood still - and then - finally - sailing through the uprights half a football field away from where the ball left Cacho-Sousa’s foot, to capture a one point victory - a triumph that certainly ranks as one of the most dramatic - and gratifying - in Loyola’s illustrious football annals.
It was one of those you had to be there to believe it comebacks, so improbable yet at the same time an unmistakable affirmation of the inestimable belief an inexperienced team had in itself after a rocky start to the season. An affirmation that this team has overcome adversity on many fronts and has set its course in a determined quest for a cherished invitation to the CIF Div. I playoffs. Watching Cub offensive tackle JAKE MILLER stalking the sidelines in the second half loudly exhorting his teammates to refuse to lose you got the distinct sense that this team had arrived, even though with just over a minute left in the contest the Cubs were down 23-14.
Following Loyola’s recovery of a Lancer fumble as Amat was trying to run out the clock, senior quarterback SEAN O’MALLEY led the Cubs briskly down the field before connecting with senior wide receiver JACK WEBSTER for a three-yard touchdown with just 17 seconds left on the clock. The PAT kick made the score 23-21 in favor of the Lancers. Loyola lined up for an onside kick and Cacho-Sousa’s high bouncing, perfectly executed boot was recovered by junior WR/corner ALEX JOHNSON close to the Amat 40 yard line. A Webster reception of an O’Malley pass at the 32-yard line stopped the clock with just four seconds remaining in the game. It was then that the field goal unit took the field for the epic ending to the contest.
For the second consecutive week, Loyola’s ‘Wolfpack’ defense shut out a quality opponent after intermission. The Lancers’ only points came on a safety resulting from a mishandled Cub punt snap late in the third quarter.
The huge Mission League victory was not perfect. Amat opened with a ground-dominated, 12-play TD drive on its first possession. Loyola answered with a beautifully executed 80-yard six-play drive, highlighted by a 50 yard pass from O’Malley to senior tight end CONNOR BEADLES, and capped by a short run for six points by senior running back PATRICK O’REILLY. The Lancers had their way with the Cubs through the air in the first half as their precocious sophomore quarterback amassed 151 passing yards. Amat scored its third TD of the game shortly before halftime on a double pass, trick play that covered 16 yards to make the score 21-7. Just before intermission Amat’s balanced offense was knocking at the door again before Loyola’s ‘Wolfpack’ defense recovered a fumble at the Cub two yard line to stave off what could have swelled to an insurmountable lead by the home team.
Junior fullback TOMMY VANIS sprinted into the end zone from 13 yards out in the third quarter to close the gap to 21-14 before the incredible comeback was culminated.
Junior nickel back JACOB McBRIDE was brilliant on defense, seemingly always around the ball, making key tackle after key tackle. The offensive line pass blocked well all night, not allowing a single sack. Senior two-way lineman CAMERON HANSON played solidly on both sides of the ball. Webster, Beadles and junior DAKOTA SMITH were absolute money catching the ball.
Cacho-Sousa’s game-winning kick was redemptive after he had missed the game winner the previous Friday from nearly the same distance after a high snap and difficult hold. But the field goal against Loyola’s archrival on Friday was not only redemptive. The game-winner makes the Cubs 1-0 in the Mission League with an impressive victory against the Los Angeles Times’ ninth ranked team that handed state-ranked Trinity League power JSerra, ranked 11th by the Times, its lone loss thus far and defeated another Trinity League squad, 15th-ranked Servite, which lost by only a point to perennial national power Concord De La Salle.
A lot of improvement in multiple areas will be needed going forward for Loyola to earn a trip to the playoffs, but there can be little doubt that the Cubs will be in the thick of the race. The next major hurdle will be presented by a loaded Serra squad in Gardena on Friday night.
Head coach MARVIN SANDERS was quoted by the Times, calling Friday’s win one of the most gratifying coaching experiences of his career, including some big moments spanning 20 years at the collegiate level. See the link below for an excellent article describing Loyola’s resilience and progress.
Loyola hires new varsity baseball coach
The Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday, September 21, that Loyola has hired SEAN BULLER as its varsity head baseball coach. Muller served as the Cubs’ varsity pitching coach last season, when the Cubs finished second in the tough seven-team Mission League. Two of the graduated hurlers under his tutelage, DANIEL CARUSO ‘16 (Baylor) and HOLDEN GROFF ’16 (UCSB), were scholarship players. Returning senior pitchers, BLAKE BEERS and TIM POST, who have made scholarship commitments to Michigan and Columbia, respectively, were also coached by Muller last spring.
Muller pitched for the University of San Francisco and made it to the AAA level in the Detroit Tigers’ organization before embarking on his coaching career in 2001. He coached high school, travel team and collegiate baseball before his arrival at Loyola as an assistant. Muller previously served as the varsity head baseball coach at Valley Christian High School in Cerritos.
The Times’ article about Muller with a link to Muller’s impressive resume is in the link below.