Loyola seeks to rebound against Valencia Friday at Smith Field
After two consecutive defeats by a combined total of 41 points, it was not exactly back to the drawing boards for the Cubs' varsity football team, but the staff has made adjustments in a number of areas this week as Loyola prepares to take on a Valencia squad which is averaging 37 points per game. The Vikings have the same 1-2 win-loss record as the Cubs, so both teams are in desperation mode in their quest to even their records at .500.
Among the adjustments made by Loyola's staff this week is having some of the more talented players play on both sides of the ball. The Cubs are hoping the changes made will lead to better production on both sides of the ball. While Valencia has been productive on offense as it has always been under head coach Larry Muir, the Vikings have relinquished an average of 32 points in their first three non-league contests of the season. Loyola hopes to find running lanes and open receivers against what looks to be a less than stellar Vikings' defensive group.
A Look at the Vikings
Long a Santa Clarita Valley football powerhouse, the Valencia Vikings advanced to the 2017 CIF Southern Section Division 2 championship game last fall where they lost a heart breaker to Oaks Christian, 21-19.
Head coach Larry Muir’s crew is hoping for another run at the title this time around, but the loss of some key contributors from the 2017 finalist squad is proving tough to overcome three games into the 2018 campaign. Last fall the Vikings’ averaged 52 points per game and are looking to replicate those big scores again this season. Valencia has already put up 58 points against Silverado of Victorville in game two and 38 last Friday in a tough loss to Chatsworth Sierra Canyon. In an opening 17-14 loss to Las Vegas Arbor View, though, the Norsemen only scored two touchdowns.
The Vikings have traditionally been a prolific passing team, and this year is no exception. Senior quarterback Davis Cop (5-11, 180) is a gifted athlete-he is also a starter on Valencia’s baseball team-who has thrown for 807 yards and is averaging a robust 15.2 yards .
The player the Norsemen were counting on to propel the running game is senior Oregon-commit Jayvaun Wilson (6-2, 210), but he has been sidelined by an injury suffered before the season got underway. His absence has hurt the Vikes’ rushing attack, but a running back-by-committee rotation has been effective. Among the backs who have been pounding it on the ground is senior Luring Pailaii (6-2, 225) who doubles as a stellar starting linebacker. Junior Jake Santos was the leading ball carrier through the first two games, but suffered what was reported as a possible knee injury against Sierra Canyon. Santos was averaging 5.9 yards per carry before the injury. Junior Nick Pham (5-8, 180) showed toughness running the ball last week.
Valencia has a solid cadre of excellent players, including 6-2, 295 lb. senior center Tanner Miller and senior corner Joshua Doyle (5-11, 175). Muir lists his linebacker corps as one of the team’s strengths. The Vikings, suffered another huge personnel loss during the summer when senior University of Oregon-commit Mykael Wright, a star wide receiver and defensive back, who had 55 receptions for 1,317 yards and 18 TDs for Valencia’s CIF runner-up squad in 2017 and was named the Foothill League’s Player of the Year, transferred out of the school. Wright’s transfer and Wilson’s injury have been tough challenges to overcome for the defending Foothill League champs.
The Vikings will likely try to air it out early and often, so the Cubs will need to put pressure on Cop. Loyola’s secondary, which is shorthanded as a result of injury to one of its better players, must play with ball hawking intensity. The Cub secondary will need help from the front seven, because if Cop has a lot of time to throw it could be a long night for the Big Blue.
Loyola must establish productive balance offensively in order to notch a win against a wounded but unbowed Valencia squad. Both teams are 1-2 and will be looking to right their ships.
Valencia was established in 1994. It is a relatively new school compared to Loyola, the original version of which commenced operation in 1865, some 153 years ago. The schools have played one another in football five times.
The first meeting between the Cubs and Vikings on the gridiron was in 2009. Valencia recorded its lone victory against Loyola by a 35-14 score. The Cubs beat the Vikes, 39-24, in 2010; 28-10 in 2011; 24-14 in 2012; and 39-20 in 2013.
Loyola leads the series, four games to one.
2018 VALENCIA RECORD (1-2)
Arbor View (NV) 17 VALENCIA 14
VALENCIA 58 Silverado 35
Sierra Canyon. 44 VALENCIA 38
Loyola freshmen (3-0) host Valencia at Smith Field today at 4:00 p.m.
It was expected that Loyola's talented freshman team would be tested for the first time last Thursday against Cathedral's frosh-soph team. As it turns out, the Phantoms proved to be no match for the Cubs, who led 49-12 at halftime.
Valencia probably has the best and most disciplined defense Loyola has faced thus far, so a competitive game may be in the cards today. Kickoff at Smith Field is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. The Cub freshmen play with uncommon passion and intensity. If you can find a way to make it to Smith Field this afternoon, it will be well worth the effort.
Keeping up with Loyola grads in college and pro football
Thirty-seven Loyola graduates are playing college football, and three are on NFL rosters (two starting). Here are some updates on the exploits of Cub grads in college and NFL football.
Former Loyola defensive back DAVID TOLBERT '16 was named the Pioneer League's Defensive Player of the Week after his outstanding effort for the University of San Diego Toreros in their road game last Saturday against U.C. Davis. Tolbert had five tackles, three pass breakups, a forced fumble and a tackle for loss.
Loyola grad, CHRIS CONTE '07, an All-CIF Division I defensive back for the Cubs who was one of the standout players on Loyola's 2005 CIF Southern Section Division I championship team, was the second leading tackler for Tampa Bay in the Buccaneers' 48-40 season opening win over the New Orleans Saints last Sunday in the Crescent City. Conte is the starting free safety for the Bucs.
Former Loyola All-State defensive back MYLES BRYANT '16, the MVP on the Cubs' 2015 team that finished the season ranked 17th in the state, is continuing his impressive career at the University of Washington. Bryant, who starts at nickel corner for the Huskies, is the second leading tackler after two games with 13 total and eight unassisted stops. He has also recorded one tackle for loss, a sack and two passes broken up.
DAVID LONG '16, an All-State first team, All-CIF Div. I and Army All-American corner for the Cubs in 2015 has five tackles, including three solos, and a pass broken up, as a starting corner for the University of Michigan after two games.
A standout All-League offensive lineman at Loyola, COLEMAN SHELTON '14, was a three-year starting All-Pac-12 offensive lineman at the University of Washington before joining the San Francisco 49ers this summer. Shelton ended up making the practice squad of the Tennessee Titans.
Cub grad STEFAN FLINTOFT '15 is UCLA's starting punter. He is averaging an impressive 44.4 yards per punt on 14 boots for the Bruins through two games.
Loyola seeks to rebound against Valencia Friday at Smith Field