Cub Football - A look back at the 2017 Loyola football season

Loyola's 2017 accomplishments were significant despite .500 record
It is not easy to take over the reins of a football program in the late spring and make significant changes that will spell success in the fall, but despite daunting challenges, first year head coach, Dr. RICARDO PEDROARIAS '84, led his troops to a far better than projected outcome. You might ask, how can a 5-5 record be defined as successful.

HERE's HOW . . .
Loyola's defense gave up the fewest points (133) over the span of ten games since it last won the CIF Southern Section Division I championship in 2005. Including TDs scored against the offense, the Cubs relinquished an average of 15.4 points per game, the best per contest points-allowed average since 2004 . . . the culture of accountability and physicality and emphasis on fundamentals manifested themselves abundantly throughout the season . . .

Loyola defeated three teams who won league crowns
(8-2 record to date, L.A. City Section Western League winners; other than the Lions' season-opening 52-7 loss to the Cubs, Fairfax's average score against nine other opponents was 31-14; the Lions are seeded fourth in the City Section Open Division playoffs) . . . St. Augustine (San Diego) (7-3 overall, CIF San Diego Section Western League champs; save for their only shut out loss of the 2017 campaign, a 41-0 defeat at the hands of Loyola, the Saints averaged 34 points per contest in their nine other regular season games; St. Augustine has a bye before it commences play in the San Diego Open Division playoffs) . . . and Cathedral (9-1 heading into the CIF Division 2 playoffs; other than their 17-7 loss to the Cubs, the Phantoms defeated all of their other foes by the average score of 43-7).

Cub 'Wolfpack' defense held six opponents to their lowest point totals of season; this marked first campaign Loyola notched two shutouts in the same year since 2004
It isn't cliche - defense indeed does win championships, and Loyola's emphasis on - and success - in shutting down opponents is a harbinger of good things to come in the years ahead. A great deal of credit goes to defensive coordinator MIKE GILHOOLY '88 for his work in retooling the 'Wolfpack'. . . 

The 'Wolfpack handed St. Augustine and Crespi their lone shutout losses of the season, held Fairfax, Cathedral, Notre Dame and Serra to their lowest point totals of the regular season and allowed the second fewest points scored by Santa Margarita and Bishop Amat against all opponents. . . This is the first campaign since 2004 that the Cubs held two opponents scoreless in the same season.

Eight of the nine teams Loyola played are competing in the CIF playoffs in various sections and divisions
But for a controversial fumble call as the Cubs were going into score the winning TD against arch rival Bishop Amat in the final minute of a 7-3 loss, Loyola would have had a victory over the second place finisher in the Mission League . . . an unfortunate pick six off a tipped pass on the first scrimmage play against Gardena Serra (which had its lowest offensive output of the season in a 13-10 win over the Cubs), Loyola likely would have secured a victory over a Cavalier team that lost by just five points (37-32) to Mission League champ Chaminade and defeated L.B. Poly (8-2 record), 24-20, in a regular season non-conference finale. The

Jackrabbits' only other setback was at the hands of undefeated Mission Viejo by a 12-7 score,

Three of the Cubs' Mission League losses were by a combined total of 10 points 
Flip those losses to wins and the squad would be no worse than 7-3 and likely getting ready for the first round of the playoffs. Yes, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but from the opening kick to the final gun in every battle Loyola competed with unflinching resolve . . . Expect that trait to be in abundance in the campaigns to come.

Top games of the year
The best games played by the Cubs from start to finish were probably, in order, the road win (41-0) over St. Augustine of San Diego on September 8; the 28-21 victory over Mission League rival Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks on September 22; and the 17-7 road triumph over Cathedral in the final non-conference contest on September 15. The latter was the defensive masterpiece of the year.