Struggles continue for Loyola in loss to Valencia, rough road ahead


Cub senior NICHOLAS BARR-MIRA’s second quarter punt soared so far into the night sky it seemed to be reaching toward Heaven, a veritable metaphor for an uplifting moment that could potentially spell the turning point in what has been an exceptionally frustrating season thus far for Loyola. The booming kick would travel 63 yards from the line of scrimmage and pin the visiting Valencia Vikings inside their own 10 yard line. Down only 3-0, surely it was a sign that momentum was about to turn in the Cubs’ favor. Unfortunately, the potential change of tide for Loyola evaporated as Valencia moved the football out of harm’s way and ultimately scored a touchdown on a 14-yard pass with just 47 seconds left in the first half. It was another of many lost opportunities in the last three games that could have been seized upon by the Cubs to redirect their fortunes. With the inability to convert the good result to their benefit, the repeated specter of futility once again ominously raised its ugly head.

The offensive woes that plagued Loyola against San Diego St. Augustine and Cathedral in the previous two contests continued unabated as the Cubs fell, 17-7, to a middling Vikings team at Smith Field on Friday night.

Every Loyola offensive possession of the game ended in a punt, except for two unsuccessful 50-plus yard field goal attempts. And adding insult to injury, two of the punts were blocked by Valencia. The Big Blue offense has not scored a touchdown in 12 quarters. Other than Barr-Mira’s 63-yard punt, the only other highlight of another maddeningly subpar night came with 57 seconds left in the fourth quarter when senior defensive lineman SCOTT KASE caused a fumble, picked up the loose ball and raced 54 yards for a touchdown to make the final score, Valencia 17, Loyola 7.

The Cubs’ ‘Wolfpack’ defense played aggressively until the end. With no help from the offense, the 17 points allowed to a team that was averaging 29 points per game was a positive. Senior team captains HUNTER BALLARD (running back/corner), MARCUS AGUILLAR ( defensive line), and Kase (offensive line/defensive line) continue to be leaders with their tough, physical play.

Heading into its final non-league contest at Vista Murrieta which crushed Madison, the number three-ranked team in the CIF San Diego Section, by a score of 34-6 on Friday, Loyola is faced with many difficult questions, positive answers to which are looking more and more difficult to find.

The Cubs still have a chance to retool and batten down the hatches. It will take an all out team effort to redirect the trajectory.