The Los Angeles Times' rankings published Sunday included four of Loyola's Mission League opponents among the Southland's top 25 teams. The ranked Mission League foes were, in order, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (9th), Gardena Serra (13th), Bishop Amat (15th) and Alemany (18th). Non-league opponents Valencia (22nd) and Cathedral (24th) were also included in the most recent top 25 rankings. The CalPreps state rankings place Mission League rival Chaminade above the Cubs, and MaxPreps ranks next week's non-league combatant, San Diego St. Augustine, 19th in the state. Pre-league foe Vista Murrieta also is ranked higher than Loyola by CalPreps..
St Bernard, against whom the Cubs open the 2019 campaign at 7:00 p.m. this Friday at Smith Field, is the only school on Loyola's regular season schedule to be ranked lower than the Big Blue.
So the media has little regard for the Cubs, as projections would have Loyola winning just a single game as it did in 2018.
Suffice to say, the Big Blue has different ideas as to how this season will play out. The talent level is up, the coaching staff is excellent and the prospects for success are promising; however, for a change in the program's trajectory to be accomplished, there will have to be a significant upgrade in the way the Cubs play the game.
Former Utah, Florida and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer recently said he never coached a game where the TOUGHER team did not win. Alabama's Nick Saban tells his troops that they must be a team that nobody wants to play. For generations Loyola was usually the tougher team on any given Friday. Will The Cubs be so this fall?
Bottom line, Loyola needs to be a tougher team from top to bottom if it hopes to break the cycle of mediocrity that has plagued the program for most of the last 13 seasons. On Friday night, whether the toughness component has returned will begin to show.
A LOOK AT GAME ONE THIS FRIDAY
ST. BERNARD VIKINGS
Vikes feature one of Southland’s best running backs - Friday marks first game between schools in 38 years
A LOOK AT THE VIKINGS
St. Bernard head coach JOE TORRES told Scorebook Live California, “I expect . . . not only to win [Santa Fe] league again but for us to make it to our division championship and possibly state.” The Vikings’ head man has good reason for such lofty goals. St. Bernard finished 9-3 last season before losing to Pomona Garey in the CIF Division 13 playoff quarterfinals.
The biggest cause for optimism on the sand dunes of Playa del Rey heading into the 2019 campaign is the return of one of the Southland’s top rushers, senior running back JAKAI TORRES (5-11, 190). Torres, ranked as one of the best eleven running backs in the area by the Los Angeles Times, rushed for 1,770 yards and a whopping 32 touchdowns last fall. The major college recruit not only possesses power and speed as a ball carrier, but he is also a sure handed receiver out of the backfield and a dangerous kick returner.
Sophomore quarterback JOSH COLEMAN will look to veteran senior wide receiver ISAIAH ROBINSON (6-1, 200) to take the top off of defenses.
Torres lost six starters from last season’s defense but he expects the Norsemen to have a stingy stop unit nonetheless.
As of mid-August, MaxPreps listed only 27 players on St. Bernard’s roster, so lack of depth could be an issue in Friday’s non-league battle. The Vikes do have the advantage of last week’s dominant 27-0 opening game victory against Salesian under their belts coming into Friday's contest.
Loyola has greater depth and probably more playmakers than St. Bernard, but if Torres gets off to a hot start, the Vikings may be able to make a game of it going into the fourth quarter.
There is a nexus between St. Bernard and Loyola that not many folks are not aware of. In 1972, the Vikings trounced the Cubs 33-7 at Inglewood’s Sentinel Field in the schools’ first ever meeting in football.
St. Bernard head coach MARTY SHAUGNESSY and his defensive coordinator JON DAWSON were hot commodities on the high school coaching circuit after the Vikings’ standout campaign. Lo and behold, their next coaching stop was Loyola, where in just three short years the Cubs were crowned CIF AAAA and National Champions after completing a 13-0 season in 1975.
While Shaughnessy moved on to L.B. City College, Dawson remained as Loyola’s DC for two decades. His defensive platoons allowed an average of less than 10 points per game, an utterly amazing statistic.
Loyola leads the series with the Vikings, 3-1. The Cubs defeated St Bernard 27-9 in 1979, 10-3 in 1980, and 15-3 in 1981.