Cubs kick off 2017 campaign under passionate new head coach
Jesuit institutions are unique. Historically, Jesuit college preparatory schools are highly selective in their admissions process, and only those students who embrace challenging academic curricula are accepted for admission from a large group of annual applicants. Included in the mission of Jesuit education is developing intelligent leaders who embrace Christian values. Loyola does not exist as a football factory that uses all-star football players with little regard for their academic development, but rather uses football as one of many opportunities to develop character and mental strength.
It is because of the unique ethos of Jesuit education that the head football coach is well served to have an intimate understanding of and passionate commitment to the mission of the Jesuits in developing young men. Cub Football is fortunate to have Dr. Ricardo Pedroarias '84 as its new leader. He attended Loyola, played football for the Cubs and served as a teacher, coach,department chair, and in multiple administrative posts in preparation for his longtime dream of becoming the varsity football head coach at his prep alma mater.
One thing is certain in the new era of Cub Football under Coach Pedroarais: Loyola will play a fundamentally sound and physical brand of football. There is no guarantee the first campaign under Pedroarais will result in more wins than last season, but there is a guarantee that the Cubs will compete with grit and determination.
The schedule is in a word - challenging. Four of the teams on Loyola's schedule are ranked in the Los Angeles Times preseason top 25, including Mission League rivals Gardena Serra (7th), Chaminade (8th) and Bishop Amat (13th), and non-league foe Cathedral (24th). There are 18 teams in Division 1 of the CIF Southern Section. To be in the 16-team D-I playoff field, the Cubs will likely have to defeat at least one of the top three ranked teams in the Mission League. Pedroarias is a passionate mentor who will get the most out of his varsity squad in his inaugural campaign.
Fairfax, Loyola's first non-league opponent, could be sneaky good
Loyola's first game of the 2017 campaign this Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Smith Field could be tougher than most observers predict.
With 15 returning starters and the members of an undefeated (10-0) Western League champion JV squad moving up, the one thing the Lions lacked heading into the summer was a quality quarterback. But that dilemma was rectified with the arrival of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame transfer, Scott Harris, who exhibited excellent running and passing skills as the signal caller in Fairfax's scrimmage against Birmingham last Thursday.
The Lions' other top players are senior linebacker Darryl Carrington (6-2, 220) (ranked by the Times as one of the best LBs in the Southland), senior wide receiver/corner Keivon Johnwell (6-3,190) and junior wide receiver/linebacker Andrew Cox (6-0, 180). Fairfax's linemen are huge. Four starters return on the offensive line. The Lions' defense relinquished only 21 points per game last fall, and eight starters from their defensive unit return.
This will be the first meeting ever between the schools in football. The Cubs and Lions have met several times over the years on the hardwood, but this will mark their first battle on the gridiron since Fairfax opened its doors in 1924, some 93 years ago.
Coach Pedroarias, his staff and the 2017 Loyola Cubs are hoping for a packed house on Friday night.