Loyola plays Alemany in Mission League finale on Friday
CalPreps picked Loyola to finish the 2017 campaign with a 2-8 overall record back in August, but the algorithms used to project the outcome of the season did not take into account that first year head coach, Dr. RICARDO PEDROARIAS '84 and his staff were in the process of creating a new culture that emphasized physicality and commitment as its cornerstones and emphasizing defense as the most important ingredient in changing the trajectory of Cub Football.
Loyola enters its final Mission League contest in Mission Hills on Friday with a 5-4 overall slate that could have easily been 6-3 but for a controversial fumble call by the officials that gave Bishop Amat the ball at the Lancers' one-yard line in the waning moments of the clash of arch rivals on September 29 . . . or even 7-2 if a couple miscues had been avoided in a 13-10 loss to Gardena Serra on October 6. Make no mistake, the Cubs have come a long, long way under the tutelage of Pedroarias and his dedicated assistant coaches. Over the span of nine contests, Loyola's 'Wolfpack' defense has relinquished the fewest points (113) of any Cub squad over the same number of games since 2004.
Among the players who have led the stop unit are senior inside linebacker JACK FITZGERALD (77 total tackles, including 30 solo stops, one interception, one forced fumble), senior inside linebacker JORDAN McMILLAN ( 69 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble), senior outside linebacker JACOB McBRIDE (59 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble), sophomore strong safety KEVIN PARADA (48 tackles, including 22 solos), senior outside linebacker TOMMY VANIS (42 tackles, including 21 solo stops, two sacks, one interception (a 52-yard pick six), junior free safety ALEX BLAKE (39 tackles, including 23 solos, one interception), senior defensive lineman BRAYDEN UTLEY (36 tackles, three sacks), senior corner DEAMIL AGUILAR, Jr. (34 tackles), junior defensive lineman MARCUS AGUILAR (34 tackles, five sacks), senior corner ALEX JOHNSON (20 tackles, two interceptions), junior defensive lineman SCOTT KASE 19 tackles, one forced fumble) and senior outside linebacker DAKOTA SMITH (19 tackles, one forced fumble). The 'Wolkpack' has recorded 17 sacks and made six interceptions thus far.
The Warriors are 2-7 and have only one Mission League win against Crespi to their credit. Last Friday, Alemany scored two early TDs against Bishop Amat in La Puente, but the Lancers scored 35 consecutive points before prevailing 44-22. Amat allowed a paltry 16 yards on the Warriors' first four drives of the second half.
Alemany's offense is paced by running back Nazar Bombata (5.5 yards per carry) and wide receiver Jacob Perez (6-1, 170), who has 54 receptions for 805 yards. Junior linebacker Chayce Edwards-Morgan leads the Warrior defense in tackles. The key to Loyola slowing down Alemany's offense will be keeping their quarterback from scrambling and holding their receivers in check.
Loyola's average score through nine games is 21-14. Alemany's average score over the same span is 21-36. The Cubs are looking to close out the regular season with a 6-4 record, but the Warriors definitely are not going to roll over in their season-ending contest.
Loyola leads the series with Alemany, which began in 1968, 24-7-1.
Playoffs a long shot
Beginning in 2015, the CIF Southern Section, for the first time in its history, adopted a new football playoff placement system, based on comparative equity factors. Before the implementation of the new format, all the teams in every league would be eligible to make the playoffs in the same division. For instance, in the Moore League four of the conference's seven members annually would be guaranteed spots in the Division I playoffs, but L.B. Poly was traditionally the only Division I-caliber squad.
The switch to comparative equity caused teams in a single league to be eligible for playoff consideration in different playoff divisions based on formulae which evaluated each team on various competitive criteria. This year, for instance, both Notre Dame and Crespi of the Mission League are Division II teams. Even though Notre Dame will likely finish fifth in the seven team conference, the Knights may well secure an invitation to the D-II playoff field.
With the advent of the comparative equity divisional placements, the number of guaranteed playoff spots for teams in seven-team leagues, such as the Mission, changed from four to three. If Loyola defeats Alemany on Friday it will complete the league campaign in fourth place with a 3-3 conference record. If the old four-team guarantee was still in place it would mean the Cubs would automatically make the 16-school Division I playoff field.
Even if the current last place team in the Trinity League, Orange Lutheran, loses to Santa Margarita on Friday to end the regular season without a victory in conference play, the Lancers are expected to grab the final of 16 Division I playoff spots.
How could a sixth place team with an 0-5 league record and an overall 5-5 slate get the nod over a 6-4 team with a 3-3 conference record? Because the selection criteria include head-to-head outcomes (not applicable as to Orange Lutheran and Loyola), strength of schedule (one point for Orange Lutheran), strength of league (two points for Orange Lutheran) and comparative scores (one point for Orange Lutheran if it loses to Santa Margarita on Friday by less than 35 points - SM is the Cubs' and Lancers' only common opponent).
The best case scenario for Loyola would be Orange Lutheran outpacing the Cubs, 3-2, in points. Absent major upsets in the Southwestern League that could potentially lead to a coin flip for the loop's third place finisher, Vista Murrieta will secure a guaranteed playoff berth.
All of the foregoing being considered, could Loyola still get an invitation? Probably only if the selection committee has a serious, last minute pang of conscience. It seems manifestly unfair for a .500 team with no league wins to get an invitation over a 6-4 squad with three conference wins in a league that is clearly the second best in the state. Orange Lutheran has given up 243 points (27 points per game) in nine contests.
Cubs in college update
Loyola 2015 MVP MYLES BRYANT '16 continues his excellent play as the starting nickel corner for the University of Washington. For his stellar play in the Huskies' 44-23 victory over UCLA last Saturday, Bryant was named the squad's Defensive Player of the Week. The previous week Bryant was named one of the nation's Top 25 teams' most unsung players by ESPN.
Eight Grade Student-Parent Visitors' Day November 10
Loyola Open House December 10
Loyola's is holding its annual Open Hose for prospective students and their families on Sunday, December 10.
Loyola plays Alemany in Mission League finale on Friday