There was a hue and cry by Loyola alumni and supporters when, under the new competitive equity formula implemented in 2015, the Cubs were designated as a Division 2 team this June when the playoff divisional placements were announced by the Southern Section.
Loyola moved down to the Division 2 playoff pool for the first time in school history. As the season has played out, the Cubs are looking more like a Division 3 squad than a Division 1 aspirant. With three Mission League contests remaining on the slate, it looks as though Loyola will need to win out to earn a Division 2 playoff invitation.
The Division 2 schools, listed in order of the preseason competitive equity formula rankings (after the 18 Division 1 teams) are as follows:
22. Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks
26. La Habra
29. Great Oak
30. St. Francis
32. San Juan Hills
33. Rancho Verde
34. Los Alamitos
35. Redlands East Valley
Two Division 2 teams will not make the playoffs as only sixteen teams will fill the bracket. As things stand, only Great Oak of Temecula and Loyola have 1-6 records among the Division 2 designees. Great Oak is unlikely to win another game based on its results thus far and the Wolfpack's remaining Southwestern League schedule.
The Cubs are not favored in any of their remaining conference tilts against Chaminade (0-2), Bishop Amat (2-0) and Gardena Serra (0-2). Unfortunately for Loyola, none of the other teams in Division 2 currently look to conclude their conference campaigns in worse than third place in their respective leagues (a third place finisher in five and six team conferences are usually guaranteed a spot in the playoffs). So even if the Cubs were to run the table, and finish 3-2 in league play and 4-6 overall, it is possible they could end up in third place (or even fourth place if there were a tie), and then it could come down to another third place team vying with Loyola for the last opening. And with a losing record there would be no guarantee for the Cubs. Each of Loyola's three remaining foes are in the Division 1 field, so three consecutive wins over Division 1 opponents would help in the strength of schedule equation.
Looking at the Mission League
At the beginning of the season, most prep experts figured that Chaminade, Serra and Bishop Amat would vie for the conference title. No one expected Notre Dame and a young Alemany team to be in the thick of the battle for conference supremacy.
After the first two weeks of Mission League contests, Bishop Amat (6-1, 2-0), Alemany (6-1,2-0) and Notre Dame (5-2, 2-0) are each undefeated in conference play, while Chaminade (2-5, ), Loyola (1-6, 0-2) and Serra (3-4, 0-2) are winless.
Chaminade has Loyola, Serra and Notre Dame remaining of its league schedule. The Cubs play Chaminade on the road, Bishop Amat (at home) and Serra (in Gardena) to finish out the regular season. Serra hosts Alemany this Friday, plays at Chaminade on October 19 and hosts Loyola on October 26. The playoff brackets will be announced by the Southern Section on October 28
If the Cubs can find a way to jump start their offense, they could be in the hunt.
Loyola Freshmen and Sophomore teams are in thick of Mission League title races
Loyola's freshman team is among the best the school has ever fielded. The frosh Cubs are 6-1, with their lone setback coming at Vista Murrieta in a contest that was marred by multiple questionable penalties. Loyola's average score to date is 45-14. The total-points-scored side of the Cubs' ledger would be much higher if the first string had played more after intermission in five of its contests. The freshmen play Chaminade on Friday at 3:30 p.m. in Mission Hills before the varsity game, which kicks off at 7:00 p.m.
Loyola's sophomore team is 1-0-1 in Mission League play. It has improved significantly since the first game of the season. The Cubs will host Chaminade's JV team at Smith Field on Thursday at 4:00 p.m.
Loyola is the only school in the Mission League that plays a JV schedule exclusively with sophomore players.