Cubs need to keep pedal to metal

After an unbelievable 24-23 comeback victory over Bishop Amat last Friday, the Cubs’ schedule continues to ratchet up as Loyola travels to Gardena Serra to take on the big, fast and athletically gifted Cavaliers. Serra’s 30-28 Mission league-opening win over Chaminade in Gardena last Friday catapulted it from 19th to the number ten spot in this week’s Los Angeles Times’ Top 25 rankings. 

 Despite their 2-3 record (their three losses were to Saguaro, the number two team in Arizona, the top squad in the Los Angeles City Section (Narbonne) and the number two-ranked school in New Jersey (St. Joseph Regional)), the Cavaliers have all the weapons they need to capture the 2016 Mission League title. Electric junior quarterback Jalani Eason (1,047 all-purpose yards in five games) is doing a pretty good imitation of last year’s Serra QB Khalil Tate (2015 Mission League MVP, now at Arizona), who singlehandedly led the Cavs to their victory over the Cubs. Eason has thrown for 741 yards and rushed for 306. Bruising running back Randy Anyanwu (5-11, 200), tall, fast receivers Kobe Smith and John Jackson and fleet-footed WR Deion Malone complement Eason in contributing to a high octane offense behind a huge, powerful offensive line. Defensively, Serra swarms to the ball, arriving with a nasty disposition.
 Loyola needs to continue improving and playing with its never-say-die approach. Serra presents a big hurdle the Cubs need to find a way to overcome. Belief -which has been readily apparent in the Cubs’ last two games - is a powerful weapon.

 Victory over Bishop Amat vaults Loyola into Calhi Sports’ Top 25 state rankings

Almost as amazing as the Cubs’ incredible comeback win over Bishop Amat was the fact Loyola vaulted into this week’s Cal Hi Sports Top 25 state rankings at the number 22 spot, despite its 2-3 record. The capsule on the state’s new number 22-ranked squad reads, “You can forget about the win-loss record because all three teams that have beaten the Cubs this season were ranked higher (Santa Margarita [11th], St. Augustine [9th] and Cathedral [21st]). . .Loyola’s stay in the top 25 may not last long, either. The next game is at new No. 19 Serra of Gardena.” The Cubs, to say the least, have plenty of incentive to hold onto their lofty new status.

 Never too early to assess playoff prospects

There are 18 teams in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoff grouping. Despite its league-opening win over Amat, Loyola has a very tough row to hoe to secure one of the 16 available Division I playoff berths. A win over Serra and/or a victory against next week’s talented foe, Chaminade (the media’s preseason pick to win the Mission league title), would constitute a huge step(s). 

 The way things stand now, Trinity League teams Orange Lutheran (3-2) and Servite (3-2), which commence league play on October 7, and Alemany (1-4) of the Mission League, appear to be the schools, along with Loyola, that will be battling for one of the final available playoff berths. Gardena Serra (2-3) could also be included in that group if the Cavs suffer more than one league loss. Bishop Amat (3-2) and Chaminade (3-2) are in pressure situations, each having already suffered a Mission League loss. Based on projections at the halfway mark of the regular season, it is likely that two of the aforementioned squads will miss the playoff cut. Indeed, the Cubs control their own destiny. It will probably take at least three wins in the remaining five league contests (against Serra, Chaminade, Crespi, Alemany and Notre Dame) for Loyola to garner an invitation to the Southern Section Division I playoffs. Notre Dame and Crespi are in the Division II playoff grouping.

 Loyola cross country continues dominant run

Loyola senior cross country runner CHARLIE SHERMAN (second place), DAVID McANDREWS (third), ALEJANDRO SALINAS (fifth), freshman ANTHONY STONE (ninth), who set the course record for a freshman, and BRANDON COBIAN (tenth) helped lead a fast Loyola harrier corps to its fourth tournament championship of the season in dominant fashion at the Bell-Jeff Invitational on Saturday. See the link below.

Cacho-Sousa named CalHi Sports’ Southern California Special Teams Player of the Week

Loyola senior kicker Diego Cacho-Sousa was named the Southern California Special Teams Player of the Week by CalHi Sports on Tuesday for his game-winning 49-yard field goal against Bishop Amat as time expired in the Mission league opener on Friday. The boot was converted just seconds after the All-CIF Pac 5 Division kicker perfectly executed an onside kick, recovered by Loyola, to put the Cubs in position for the successful field goal and 24-23 victory. The unbelievable final 20 seconds of the contest was reported by multiple media outlets, including USA Today.