Loyola head football coach, Dr. Ricardo Pedroarias, noted at the conclusion of the spirited spring intrasquad scrimmage played on Smith Field on Thursday afternoon, “The enthusiasm of the players was evident as they competed.” It was also abundantly evident to the large contingent of supporters in attendance. If the level of enthusiasm and physicality exhibited during the course of the scrimmage, won by the White team two touchdowns to one, carries into the fall you can expect the Cubs to make some big noise in 2018.

After studying film of the scrimmage Pedroarias had several positive takeaways. He said, “It was an impressive performance by the defense overall.” It is noteworthy that last season’s ‘Wolfpack’ defensive unit allowed the fewest points per game of any Loyola stop squad in 14 years. Building on last season’s defensive performance bodes well for the coming campaign.

The head coach was pleased with the play of safeties ALEX BLAKE, sophomore ZAKHARI SPEARS and PATRICK LARSON, and corners HUNTER BALLARD, sophomore CEYAIR WRIGHT and junior GREGORY THOMAS.

”The inside linebackers (MARCUS AGUILAR, CHASE BRANIGAN and junior STEVEN ARELLANO) were all over the ball on run plays”, Pedroarias observed in what may have been an understatement.  It was quite clear that the inside linebackers will be pivotal components of what promises to be outstanding defensive platoon.

The head coach also praised the pass rush up front, naming nose guard COLE MILLER, junior tackles BRENDAN PERNECKY and SAM DOMINGUEZ and OSAZE ODIAZE as standouts. He also noted the aggressive effort of junior outside linebackers CARTER LINK and RYAN QUITANAR.

”The two sophomores were impressive,” Pedroarias said of current ninth graders Spears and Wright in assessing the performance of the offensive squad. Spears made some big time catches for the Blue squad, one at the end of the game in the corner of the end zone that was ruled out of bounds and had another deep reception caught in stride which was thrown to him on a beautifully executed double pass by Wright. Wright also had a big run play on a reverse in the first half.

Blake also was outstanding at receiver, making a great catch in the back of the end zone for the White team which was led by junior signal caller WARREN DAVIS.

Pedroarias is confident Ballard is going to have a monster senior campaign at running back. Many of Ballard’s runs would have gone for big yardage, but were whistled dead because the scrimmage was played on a touch stop basis. Ballard had one impressive TD jaunt. The head coach praised the offensive line play of 285-pound center DANNY DIXON, 306-pound junior tackle SHANE STROYKE and Dominguez. Pedroarias also liked the effort of Pernecky at tight end. The 6’ 3” junior made a key catch in the second half to keep a drive alive.

The head coach was also pleased with the performance of kicker/punter NICHOLAS BARR-MIRA, whose lone kickoff was into the end zone.

Two of of the best players on the team did not participate in the scrimmage. Senior quarterback NATHAN PRIESTLEY was held out of action as a precaution as he underwent surgery just after the conclusion of last season and there was no need for him to compete in the intra squad competition. Junior safety/wide receiver/running back KEVIN PARADA also did not play as he had a minor ailment.

Based on what was displayed in the scrimmage Thursday it is a good bet the Cub ‘Wolfpack’ defense will improve on last season’s stalwart performance and the offensive production will be dramatically improved from last season.

Loyola will begin hosting seven on seven passing competitions on Thursdays beginning on June 14. The Cubs open the 2018 campaign on the road against Fairfax of the CIF Los Angeles City Section on August 24.