Loyola hosts undefeated Cathedral at Smith Field

Full house expected for Friday's showdown with Cathedral
Two years ago two long time Los Angeles Catholic school rivals, Loyola and Cathedral, met at Smith Field in the renewal of a rivalry that had been on hiatus for 45 years and that began 91 years ago. The Phantoms hung on for a 21-19 win as the Cubs missed a long range field goal attempt as time expired. Last season Loyola downed Cathedral 17-7 and its prolific sophomore quarterback Bryce Young, who has since transferred to and is currently the starting quarterback at Mater Dei, at Southwest College behind a terrific scheme and flawless execution thereof by the Cubs' 'Wolfpack' defense. The 2016 showdown was played before a packed house. A huge crowd is expected this Friday.

On Friday Loyola is looking to rebound from a sub-par effort last Friday against San Diego St. Augustine. In the 28-10 loss to the Saints, the Cubs faltered in virtually every area save for the kicking game. The Phantoms meanwhile made short work of Carson, downing the Colts, 41-0. As a result of Loyola's loss and Cathedral's win, the Phantoms took over Loyola's spot (no. 22) in this week's Los Angeles Times Top 25 rankings.

The Cubs will need to elevate their game substantially if they hope to pull off a victory and build some momentum.

A look at the Phantoms
First-year varsity head coach Anthony Jefferson has brought a smash mouth element to the Phantoms’ program. Featuring a spread passing offense for many years, Cathedral has rolled to a 3-0 record with decisive wins over Banning (41-14), Arcadia (33-10) and Carson (41-0), with big yardage coming from its power running game.
 
Senior running back Terence Simon, Jr. (6-0, 230), a bruising downhill rushing beast, is averaging 7.9 yards per carry, while his speedy backfield mate Brandyn Jordan, 5-9, 176, is averaging 5.8 yards per tote.
 
Junior quarterback Jared Haywood (6-0, 185) delivers the ball with efficiency (58 % completion rate). His favorite target is senior receiver Alex Franco (6-0, 185),who is averaging 15.7 yards per reception. The Phantoms average 199 yards on the ground and 167 yards passing with a big, physical offensive line making it all possible.
 
Cathedral relinquished just 24 points in its first three outings. In a word the Phantom defense is suffocating. It is led by major college recruit Stephon Wright, a 6’4”, 280-pound defensive end who wreaks absolute havoc. He has a team-leading 24 tackles, including 10 solo stops, in the first three contests, including six tackles for loss. Senior linebacker Logan Applewhite (6-0, 208)  (17 tackles and eight tackles for loss) possesses speed and brings the wood with intensity.. Junior outside linebacker Nick Veloz (6-0, 189) is another tough defender.

Outlook
Last season the Cubs devised a brilliant game plan to stymie Cathedral’s aerial circus. This time around, Loyola will have to find a way to slow down the Phantoms’ power running game. 
 
The Cubs will also have to figure out how to gain yardage against a stout Cathedral defense. The last time the schools met at Smith Field the game came down to the wire. The outcome may come down to the final seconds once again.

The Series
In 2016 Loyola and Cathedral renewed a rivalry that began in 1927, when 1901 Venice Boulevard was surrounded by a spattering of houses and more than a few bean fields. To give some further perspective, in 1927 the first transcontinental phone call was made from New York to London, Calvin Coolidge was President, Charles Lindbergh made the world’s first transcontinental flight, The Great Depression had not yet afflicted the country, and Los Angeles City Hall was a year away from completion.
 
Nestled near Chavez Ravine, Cathedral High School had been christened by Archbishop John Cantwell in 1925, just two years prior to the inaugural skirmish between the Cubs and Phantoms on the gridiron. Indeed, the first known game between Loyola and another Catholic school, Villanova Prep of Ojai, was played just three weeks before the Cubs took on Cathedral. Coach Larry Devlin was Loyola’s head coach when the Cubs downed the Phantoms, 19-0. The following season, Loyola recorded the most lopsided victory, 46-0, in a series that spanned 47 years (the teams did not play in five of those seasons). The schools were longtime members of the venerable Catholic League that was reconfigured and re-named the Del Rey League in 1968. Prior to the 2016 contest the schools had not played one another in football since 1973, some 45 years ago. The downtown-adjacent institutions will be playing with a dramatically different skyline as a backdrop since their first encounter in the Roaring Twenties. Seventy-two years ago, Loyola two-time CIF Large Schools Player of the Year, running back Al Pollard, led the Cubs in a memorable, hard fought 19-14 victory over Cathedral en route to the Catholic League championship and CIF Large Schools playoff finals.

There is a connection between Cathedral graduates and Loyola. Recently retired Loyola Spanish Department chair Bill Sanchez, who spent more than 50 years as an instructor at Loyola and also served as head coach of the varsity basketball and golf teams, is a Cathedral grad. Dr. Lalo Diaz has been the head coach of Loyola’s cross country program for more than two decades and has led the Cubs to six state championships. He is also a graduate of Cathedral. The late Greg Wells, a 1969 Cathedral grad served as Loyola’s head track and field coach for many years and was the steward of three CIF title squads. Loyola’s track is named in his honor. Wells served for many years as the defensive coordinator of the varsity football program.

Some don’t know the story of how the Phantoms came by their nickname. Cathedral was built on the site of the old Calvary Cemetery which was relocated near the turn of the 20th Century. You can bet that some ghosts of yesteryear will be out for this one. 

The Cubs lead the series 31-12-1. Last season Loyola won, 17-7, in impressive fashion behind a dominant defensive performance at Southwest College. In the 2016 tilt the Phantoms held on for a 21-19 upset victory.

Loyola's freshmen play today at 4:00 pm., Cub sophomores play Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at Cathedral
Loyola's freshman team (2-0), which has outscored its first two foes by the combined score of 103-7, will host Cathedral's Frosh-Soph team today at 4:00 p.m. at Smith Field. The Phantoms are expected to give the Cubs their stiffest test of the season thus far.

The Cub sophomore squad (1-1), which routed St Augustine 43-0 last Friday, will travel to Cathedral Saturday morning to take on the Phantoms' JV team at 10:00 a.m.

Pre-game festivities Friday
Loyola supporters will gather at Las 7 Regiones de Oaxaca (2648 Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90006) located at the southwest corner of Pico and Dewey Avenue, just north of Loyola's Dewey parking lot at 5:00 p.m. before the Cubs vs. Cathedral contest.