Legacy of Champions
For more than a century, the football program of Loyola High School of Los Angeles has set a standard–a standard of excellence–that transcends mere athletic accomplishment, that embodies academic commitment as its cornerstone, intense loyalty as its foundation, and dedication as its lifeblood. There have been some down times to be sure, but the common thread which has been passed from team to team, from year to year, from the Great Depression to the 21st Century, has been the element of pride - being part of an outstanding institution.
Students first, the Cubs of Loyola have always been, but academic focus has not diminished their role in the brilliant championship legacy of Cub Football.
ONE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, SIX CIF MAJOR DIVISION CROWNS, THIRTY-EIGHT LEAGUE TITLES
The Cubs have won 40 league championships, six CIF Southern Section AAAA/Division I championships, earned six CIF Div. I runner-up plaques and one national championship (1975). Loyola’s 35-game winning streak from 1962-64 still stands as a CIF Large Schools record. The Cubs’ undefeated 1963 team was ranked second in the nation. One hundred thirty-four Loyola football players have been named All-CIF since 1937.
A record ten Loyola players have been acclaimed CIF (Large Schools) Player-of-the-Year: Al Pollard ’45 and ’46, Paul Horgan ’61, Steve Grady ’62, Don Swartz ’63, Drew Casani ’90, Antoine Harris ’96, Matthew Ware ’00, Scott Deke ‘03 and Henry Burge ‘05. Since 1974, fourteen Loyola Cubs have been named high school All-Americans.
Private schools did not participate in the post season CIF playoffs until 1945; however, prior to that time, Loyola defeated CIF Large Schools Champion Long Beach Poly in 1936 and CIF Champion Redondo in 1942 during the regular season. The Cubs defeated St. Ignatius of San Francisco 12-7 at Santa Clara University in 1935 to earn the California Catholic Championship. Loyola was named California’s State Team-of-the-Year in both 1962 and 1963. The program ranks seventh on the all-time victory list of California high schools.
SIX LEAGUE TITLES AND A MULTITUDE OF COLLEGIATE STARS
Among the outstanding Loyola players from the ’30s, who helped the Cubs to win six Catholic League titles, were tackle Ray George (USC and NFL star), who went on to become the head coach at Texas A&M; centers Don McNeil (USC’s 1939 Rose Bowl Captain) and Wayne French; tackles Bill Blackman, “Corky” Donahue and Dave Boland; guards Trude Spearman, Jack Adams and Bob Mathews; end Leo Murphy; quarterbacks Burch Donahue and Dick Schnieders; halfbacks Tony DeLellis, Frank Houle, Jack French, Howard Callanan and Pat Higgins; and fullbacks Phil Dubosky and Bernie Matthews.
Many of the above players contributed to the football fortunes of Loyola University, Santa Clara, USF, Stanford and USC. The Broncos of Santa Clara won back-to-back Sugar Bowl titles with Loyolans John Thom, John Billich, Frank Hagan and George Hamilton.
Numbered among Loyola’s victims in the ’30s were CIF goliath Long Beach Poly, Los Angeles City Section powers Jefferson, Roosevelt, Fremont and Hollywood and San Joaquin Valley titans Taft and Bakersfield.
CIF HEROICS AND THE “LOYOLA EXPRESS”
Loyola’s gridiron prowess continued to grow in the ’40s. The Cubs were undefeated in 1942 and in 1945 junior halfback Al Pollard, known as “The Loyola Express”, was the first Cub to be named CIF Player-of-the -Year. Pollard’s triple threat abilities were instrumental in leading Loyola to the 1946 CIF championship game at the Coliseum where the Cubs lost a heartbreaker, 7-6, to Alhambra. In 1946 Pollard repeated as CIF Large Schools Player-of-the-Year. He later played for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.
Other outstanding Loyola football players of the ‘40s included the Callanan brothers, backs George (All-CIF), Jim and Ed. George and Jim started for USC in two Rose Bowl classics and Ed became a Jesuit priest. Other Cub standouts were Larry Batliner, Chuck Valenti, Don Klinkhammer, Tom Hanrahan, Chuck Kennedy, Frank Bryant, Mickey Adza, All-CIF back Joe St. Geme, Don Pooler, Phil Bolger, Gene Sweeters, Ed Cunningham, John and Hector Rubio, Louis Barrios, Pete Fitzpatrick, Dick Nanry, Fred Snyder, All-CIF back Dick Doherty, Ed Slattery, Wally Wahlbrink, Ed Hamrock, Joe Buccola, Barney Roletti, All-CIF back Tom Draper and Joe Babros.
LAYANA AND STUECK –THE INSTITUTION OF THE “LOYOLA SINGLE WING”
The decade of the ’50s started with a surprise Catholic League Championship team under the tutelage of head coach Jack Bouchard who had a number of excellent teams during his tenure as head man.
The 1950 team was led by All- CIF fullback Frank Layana and a group of quick, scrappy Cubs that included Pat Ryan, Greg Sheridan, Bill Porter, Angus McEachen, Mike Phelan, Ade Eitner, John Flynn, Louis Cobb, Eddie Neuroth, Lew Stueck, Jim St. Geme, Dick Malcolm, Larry McNeil and Hugh Maguire (who quarterbacked the ’54 Cal Bears).
Other outstanding Cubs of the ’50s included Jim McAnany (Chicago White Sox World Series ’59), Frank Conn, S.J., Ben and Tom Boudreau, John Collins, Bill Lenihan, Dwayne O’Connor, Pat Newell, Tom Mathews, Harry Olivar, “Dink” Lenihan and Jim Brown (Brown became an All-American guard for UCLA in 1955).
In 1958 a young man named Lew Stueck, Cub halfback in ’50, ’51 and ’52 was appointed head coach. He installed what would become the famed “Loyola Single Wing.” Loyola’s first All-CIF single wing tailback was Rob Smith in 1959. Smith went on to distinguish himself as a tailback at UCLA. Four of his sons (Bob, Chris, Matt and Charlie) competed for the Cubs from ’78-’91.
LOYOLA DOMINATES THE CIF WITH 35 STRAIGHT VICTORIES, TWO CIF CHAMPIONSHIPS AND THREE CONSECUTIVE CIF PLAYERS-OF-THE-YEAR
Loyola’s reign during the 1960s saw the Cubs win eight league championships, two CIF AAAA Championships and a CIF AAAA runnerup trophy. Loyola’s 35-game victory skein from 1962-65 has never been duplicated by any other CIF AAAA/Division I team.
Tailback Paul Horgan led the ’61 Cubs to the CIF quarterfinals where they dropped a 7-6 heartbreaker to the Dons of Santa Barbara. Horgan’s 2,005 yards of total offense earned him the CIF Large Schools Player-of-the-Year award. Paul was UCLA’s fullback on the Bruins’ ’65 Rose Bowl title team. Tackle Walt Cunningham (California) was named to the All-CIF team, and the Cubs’ other tackle, Steve Barry, became a team captain and an All- Coast guard at USC.
Legendary tailback Steve Grady led Loyola to its first CIF AAAA Championship in 1962. Coach Lew Stueck’s Catholic League champs defeated Anaheim 14-3 at the Coliseum and finished the season 12-0, outscoring their opponents 387-87. Grady scored 217 points. His 35 touchdowns, 2,097 yards (6.6 avg.) rushing, 738 yards passing and 10 touchdown passes earned him State and CIF Player-of-the- Year honors, as well as a place in the CIF record book.
Joining Grady on the All-CIF squad were tackle Tim Hornbecker and guard Rich Deakers (Rich later captained the UCLA Bruins as an All-Coast guard). Grady continued his football career at USC.
Following the 1962 season, Stueck moved to UCLA as an assistant, and Mario DiMuro took over the reins as head coach.
Loyola’s 1963 team won a second consecutive CIF AAAA Championship, ranked second in the nation and outscored all opposition, 350-53. Junior tailback Mike Bergdahl rushed for 2,317 yards in 317 carries and scored 26 touchdowns. Opening gaping holes for Bergdahl and enabling the Cubs to outscore El Rancho 21-0 in the CIF finale was CIF Player-of-the-Year, tackle Don Swartz. Swartz went on to play at Stanford and was named captain of the team. Also named to the 1963 All-CIF AAAA team were ends Mike Curtis (USC and 1964 Shrine North-South Game star) and Gary Keller.
Loyola’s undefeated juggernaut was finally stopped by Cinderella team, Whittier, 21-14, in the 1964 CIF Championship game. Whittier was led by Stanford/Oakland Raider star George Buehler (’64 Player-of-the-Year).
Leading the ’64 team to an 11-1 record was one of the school’s most acclaimed student athletes, George Kunz. The first team All-CIF tackle matriculated at the University of Notre Dame where he was a consensus All-American and a scholar All-American. Kunz was an eight-time All-Pro tackle with the Baltimore Colts and Atlanta Falcons. He was the second player chosen in the 1968 NFL draft behind O.J. Simpson.
Mike Bergdahl was again named to the All-CIF first team and later competed for the UCLA Bruins. Other standouts for the Cubs in the ’60s were All-CIF performers Phil Jebbia ’65, Ken Elie,’66, Rick Garner ’69, Byron Nelson ’62 (UCLA starter), Bob Ragland ’62 (UCLA), Tim Daley ’62, Mark Robinson ’63 (Stanford), Rich Vanis ’63 (UCLA), Al Ross ’64, Greg Hugo ’65, Steve Sweeters ’66 (Santa Clara), Greg Hendren ’67 (California), Tim Johnson ’67 (Santa Clara), Bernie Clougherty ’66 (Santa Clara), Tom Swartz ’68 (Nevada-Reno) and Steve Johnson ’68(Loyola U.).Two of Vanis’ sons, Matt and Mike, were All-CIF RBs for the Cubs in ’90 and ’95, respectively.
Loyola’s legendary single wing era ended in 1970 after 13 years of remarkable success with a winning percentage of 76% and a three-to-one touchdown average advantage over a span of 131 games. During the five-year period, 1961-1965, Loyola established one of the most dominant records in CIF history with a winning percentage of 93% (52-4-0) and three consecutive Players-of-the-Year.
NO.1 IN THE NATION– 18 ALL-CIF PLAYERS
Marty Shaughnessy became the head coach at Loyola in 1973. Following his initial campaign, he spent a week studying the veer formation with Houston University’s Bill Yeoman. Shaughnessy saw the veer as ideally suited to Loyola’s lightning quick backs. The 1974 Cubs were ranked number one in the CIF and top seeded entering in the playoffs. But the season ended abruptly when upstart Hawthorne beat the Cubs 10-7 in the second round. For 10 games, though, the Loyola veer worked to perfection.
Diminutive Fred Brown (5-6, 145) was an outstanding tailback. He gained 1,600 yards rushing and earned first team All-CIF honors. The Cubs set a CIF record in 1974 for most yards gained rushing by a team in a single game–597 yards –versus California High. Brown and Co. were a rushing machine.
Joining Brown on the ’74 All-CIF squad were Art Alvarado (Notre Dame), a safety who is on the CIF career interception list with 21, and guard Richard Lopez (Santa Clara).
Number One in the U.S.A. That’s what the 1975 Loyola Cubs were according to the National Sports News Service after scoring 397 points en route to the CIF AAAA championship. Fourteen players on the squad that defeated St. Paul for the title were awarded football scholarships and/or played major college football.
First team All-CIF quarterback Kevin Muno ran Loyola’s veer formation brilliantly for two years (in addition to handling PATS, field goals and punting duties). Muno starred in the Shrine game immediately after his graduation from Loyola and went on to punt for the National Champion Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in the 1978 Cotton Bowl.
Muno was joined on the All-CIF team by tackle Rod Butler (Colorado), wide receiver/defensive back Kazell Pugh (who started at flanker for Colorado), junior linebacker Bob Woolway and halfback Pat Nomura. Gordon Banks, who gained over 1,000 yards rushing from his tailback position, started at flanker for Stanford and also was one of the Cardinal’s premier track dashmen. Banks played wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints, the USFL’s Oakland Invaders and the Dallas Cowboys.
Steve Grady took over head coaching duties in 1976. He compiled a 269-77-6 record in his brilliant 29-year career and won 16 league championships. He ranks among California all-time great prep mentors.
In 1976, Bob Woolway was a first team All-CIF repeater at linebacker and was All-Ivy League at Harvard. The ’76 Cubs defeated City Section Champion Banning and future UCLA and NFL star running back Freeman McNeil.
The 1977 Cubs advanced to the CIF Big Five Conference semifinals before they lost their All-CIF quarterback Andy Henderson to injury and, in turn, the game to eventual champion Los Altos. One of the more exciting games in Loyola annals was the Cubs’ second round, double overtime victory over the then number-one ranked team in the state, Fountain Valley. Offensive tackle Joe Murray was a first team All-CIF selection and consensus prep All-American. He later started at strong tackle for USC. Ben Baca (Michigan State) was a stalwart All- CIF second team defensive tackle.
Loyola surprised everyone in ’78 by winning the Del Rey League championship in a supposed building year. Chris Pascale was a quick, tough offensive guard/defensive tackle who was named to the All-CIF first team. Greg Bart was named third team All-CIF as a middle guard. Junior signal caller and Del Rey League MVP, Vince Beringhele, also earned All-CIF honors.
The Cubs assembled a very talented team in ’79, led by first team All-CIF Big Five Conference quarterback Vince Beringhele. The Cubs were number-one ranked and top seeded entering the conference playoffs. After defeating highly regarded Fountain Valley 42-25 in the first round, the Cubs were upset by the Terriers of Redlands. Loyola finished with an 11-1 record.
Beringhele’s field generalship was complemented by the fine running of Gregg Brenton and soph Mike Skinner. Opening holes for the threesome were All-American and All-CIF tackle Geoff Bland (Stanford) and All-League guard Jim Miles (Stanford). Also named to the All- Big Five Conference first team was defensive back Andy Mergenthaler.
Other Cub standouts of the ’70s were Joe Collins ’70* (USC), Tim Wheeler ’70, Greg Hicks ‘73 (Washington State), Bill Origel ’73 (Dartmouth), Melvin Sanders ’75 (freshman All-American and four-year starter at Washington State), Matt Boensel ’75 (Navy), Frank Brady ’75, Peter Daily ’76, Tony Gahee ’76 (Santa Clara), Paul Turgeon ’76 (Notre Dame), Adrian Hernandez ’77 (Brown), Steve Shatynski ’77 (Oregon State and the U. S. Naval Academy), Jerome McAlpin ’78 (University of San Diego) and Nelson Lee ’79 (Santa Clara).
NATIONAL FAME – 24 ALL-CIF STARS – SIX LEAGUE CROWNS
Heavy graduation losses, injuries and a schedule that included eight CIF playoff teams caused the 1980 Cubs to post a rare losing season. But 1981 started the winning cycle anew. The ’81 Cubs went 7-4, with four frustrating defeats by a combined total of only seven points. The Cubs lost two cliff-hangers to Bishop Amat, one in the first round of the CIF Big Five Conference playoffs, 21-20. Loyola dropped a pre-league heartbreaker to eventual CIF champion St. Paul 20-18 on a last-minute field goal. Among the outstanding gridders on the ’81 Del Rey League co-Champion squad were All-CIF tackle John Fouts, who started his collegiate career at Santa Clara and completed it at UCLA, All-CIF defensive back Gifford Irvine (UCLA), Martin Fouts, Mike Skinner (New Mexico), Kirk Alexander (UCLA), Bob Smith (UCLA) and Andres Monsalve (Arizona). Earl Smith, who played on the ’80 Cub squad, competed at UCLA as a tight end.
The 1982 Loyola varsity was one of the top-ranked teams in California at the start of the season. The Big Blue was rolling with an 8-0-1 record when arch-rival St. Francis upset the highly favored Cubs in the final league game of the season. The Cubs took out their frustration on Fountain Valley, 21-0, the following week in the first round of the playoffs, setting up a showdown with the number-one rated team in the state, Servite. Before a standing-room-only crowd at Glendale, junior quarterback Brendan McCracken outgunned senior All-American Steve Beuerlein (Notre Dame’s starting QB from ’83- ’86), but the Cubs dropped a tough one in a game that few who saw it will forget. With Loyola’s offense beginning to wear down the Servite defense in the fourth quarter, Cub fans smelled an upset when the Servite punter fumbled the center snap at midfield with the Friars ahead 13-7. As the Cub defenders surged in, the punter alertly picked up the bouncing ball and got to the outside for a long-distance touchdown that iced the game.
Notwithstanding a disappointing 9-2-1 finish, several members of one of Loyola’s physically biggest teams ever were awarded football scholarships to Division I schools. All-CIF tackle Guy Collins started for the Arizona Wildcats as a freshman. All-CIF safety Fred Sainz matriculated at the U.S. Air Force Academy, but he was forced to forgo football after shoulder surgery. Craig Kaminski, a 6-6, 270 lb. offensive guard, was a starter for Utah. Other standouts on the ’82 squad were Rob St. Geme (U.C. Davis), David Fouts, Sean Summerfield (Cal) and two-time all-league LB Jim McAnany (LMU baseball), one of Loyola’s all-time best linebackers. All-leaguers Mike O’Brien (WR), who led the team in receptions, and Tom Doud, a standout DE, were also big contributors.
With the graduation of so many talented and physical linemen, no one knew just how good the ’83 Cubs would be. It didn’t take long before Loyola was the number one-rated team in the state. The catalyst was brilliant All-American quarterback Brendan McCracken, who later played quarterback and wide receiver for the UCLA Bruins. The Cubs were 10-0 and ranked No. six in the nation by USA Today, when they were upset on a rain soaked quagmire at Cerritos College on Thanksgiving weekend. Fountain Valley kicked a 44-yard field goal with four seconds left in the quarterfinal playoff game to end the season for one of the Cubs’ most skilled teams ever. Defensive back Kelton Alexander and linebacker Justin Malloy joined McCracken (who was the object of an intense national recruiting battle) at UCLA. All-CIF defensive back James Devers was a top wide receiver for the Cal Bears. All- CIF two-way tackle Greg Thornton took his skills to Cornell. Other ’83 Cub stalwarts were Richard Brown, who starred at running back at Cal State Northridge (named MVP as a senior), running back Tim Gonzalez (U.C.Davis, USC Medical School) and noseguard Paul Tyler, who played for the 155 lb. team at Cornell.
The 1984 Cubs were a very respectable 8-3 despite a lack of size. A rugged defensive unit, which recorded six shutouts, was the mainstay of an overachieving team that nearly upset CIF semifinalist Marina in the first round of the playoffs. The team’s most productive player was All-CIF defensive end Donald Evans, who also performed superbly at running back. Evans was awarded a scholarship to San Diego State. There he was a teammate of his twin brother Ronald, who was a top-flight wide receiver/ defensive back for the Cubs. Other Cubs who made their mark on the 1984 squad were tight end/safety Tom Glascott (Santa Clara), fullback/ linebacker Derrick Jacob, two-way tackle Greg Heinen (who graduated at the top of his class from Cal and then enrolled at Yale Medical School), wide receiver/safety John Fitzpatrick, linebacker Tom Tostado and quarterback Chris Smith.
Loyola recaptured the Del Rey League trophy in ’85. The league’s MVP was 225 lb. tailback Mark Estwick, who for two seasons started at fullback for UCLA. Tackle Tom Kelley earned All-CIF honors. Kelley competed for the Broncos of Santa Clara as did defensive end Pat Doud, and Dan O’Neil, the Cubs’ field general. Loyola was eliminated in the first round of the Big Five Conference playoffs by a very physical Fontana team. The Cubs came very close to upsetting the Steelers before bowing, 28-21, in a memorable fight-to-the-finish.
Other Cub standouts on the ’85 squad were tackle Pierre Bourgeix, tight end Pat Muldoon (USC), defensive back Bernard Brown, safety Tim Stoutt (Santa Clara), guard Matt Pascale, center Todd Martin, defensive back Justin Gmelich and guard Steve Carroll.
One of the gutsiest groups of seniors in Cub football history led the Cubs to a 9-3 record and the number 20 spot in the final state rankings in 1986.
Senior QB George Paton, who played at UCLA as a defensive back, and is now Assistant General Manager for the Minnesota Vikings, was the team MVP. His field generalship was a key to the Cubs’ first CIF quarterfinal appearance in three seasons. All-CIF tackle David Matter was a force on both sides of the ball. The University of Pennsylvania was the beneficiary of Matter’s gridiron prowess. Anthony Holly was an All-CIF nose guard and ranks among the school’s best ever at the position.
Averaging 100-yards plus per game, fullback John Winnek’s season was cut short in the seventh game when he fractured both bones in his lower leg as he scored a first quarter touchdown against Crespi. Earning All-Del Rey League and All-Central City recognition, he was the Cub’s leading rusher and tied with Paton for scoring honors while playing only half the season. Winnek’s intensity and leadership continued as a four-year special teams starter at UCLA. He and Paton were co-winners of the Bruins’ Senior Award.
Chris Rising was an All-State Academic, All-Del Rey League, All-Central City linebacker who was a key man for the Cubs’ ‘Wolfpack’ defense that shut out five opponents. Chris shined in the ’87 Shrine Game at the Rose Bowl and was awarded a scholarship to Duke University. Rising helped the Blue Devils win the ACC Championship in 1989.
Defensive back Sean Doheny, guard Tim McGinty, wide receiver Mike Pernecky, split end Tony Porrata, center Milan Ratkovich, tailback James Roughan, fullback Ed Rendon, tackle Enrique Sanabria and halfback Marco Torres all played important roles in a year that saw the underestimated Cubs lose to CIF champion Crespi, CIF runnerup St. John Bosco and CIF semifinalist Fontana by a combined total of only 11 points. Many who saw them play, rate the seniors on the ’86 team as among the great groups of upperclassmen in Cub Football history.
Loyola was rated the fifth best team in the nation by USA Today entering the second round of the 1987 CIF Big Five Conference playoffs. Sporting an 11-0 record, the ‘Wolfpack’ defense had dominated, holding opposing offenses to less than 50 yards rushing per game. But L.B. Wilson’s Delaware Wing T-formation and seven Cub turnovers derailed Loyola’s hopes for a perfect season in the playoff quarterfinals.
Perhaps the biggest victory of the year was a 15-8 triumph over the Celts of Crespi and their All-American tailback Russell White. Loyola’s defense held White to 27 yards in 14 carries before nearly 12,000 fans at Birmingham High. The win clinched the Del Rey League Championship for the Cubs.
Leading a powerful defensive unit, one of Loyola’s best ever, was All-State first team, All-Southern Section/All-CIF, L.A. Times Central City Lineman-of-the-Year, Del Rey League Co-MVP linebacker Josh Price, who competed for the Washington Huskies.
Joining Price on the All-Southern Section, All-CIF and All-Central City teams was junior safety Jimmy Klein, who led the Southern Section in interceptions. Junior Matt Butkus was also an All-CIF/ All-State Underclass defensive lineman. Junior punter Paul Stonehouse is the only Cub player named All-CIF in both his sophomore and junior years. Linebacker Chris Hentz was the Del Rey League’s Lineman-of-the-Year, and the L.A. Times All-Central City Defensive Player-of-the-Year.
Tom Condon was a first team All-Del Rey League/All-Central City offensive guard. He took his grid talents to Brown University, where he started at offensive guard. Defensive end Michael Gilhooly was a Del Rey League first teamer and All-Central City standout who walked-on at UCLA. David Estwick, a brilliant All-Del Rey League/ All-Central City wide receiver, joined his brother and former Cub star, Mark, at UCLA. Paul Sellers carried on the tradition of excellence at the nose guard position, where he earned All-League and All-Central City honors. He played for the University of San Diego.
Junior tailback Johann Fuller earned first team All-League and All-Central City honors. Andres Kennedy was a first team All-Del Rey League cornerback.
Other Cub standouts were guard James Doran, QB Jason Evans, defensive end Dan Glascott, and defensive back Marcus Pappas, all of whom earned second team All-League honors.
The 1988 Cubs were rated number one in the state for 13 weeks, and first in the nation by USA Today for five weeks before they were tripped up by long-time nemesis Bishop Amat in the semifinals of the CIF Div. I playoffs before close to 14,000 fans at Cerritos College.
It was a bitter loss, but it ended an outstanding season. Finishing the year 12-1, Loyola again ranked as probably the toughest defensive team in California. All-American safety Jimmy Klein earned All- State, All-Southern Section/All-CIF honors for the second consecutive year. Del Rey League Co-MVP, Klein was also named to the Herald Examiner’s All-Southern California Team, and named its Scholar-Athlete-of-the-Year. One of the truly great athletes to come out of Loyola, Klein earned a football scholarship to Stanford and also started on the Cardinal volleyball team.
Matt Butkus was a cornerstone on the ‘Wolfpack’ defense that held four of the nation’s top running backs to sub-par performances. Russell White of Crespi was held to 17 net yards. He ranked second on the all-time state prep rushing list at the end of his career. Derek Brown (Nebraska/New Orleans Saints) of Servite was held to 88 yards and Tommie Smith of Antelope Valley, the State Player-of-the-Year, and Dennis Collier of Eisenhower were also held at bay by the stingiest run defense in the CIF. Defensive tackle Matt Butkus earned All-State and All-Southern Section/All-CIF accolades, and was the Del Rey League’s Most Valuable Lineman. He was awarded a scholarship to USC.
The only three-time All-CIF player in Loyola history was punter Paul Stonehouse. And what a punter, and kicker, he was. He was named first team All-American by USA Today. His strong leg earned him a scholarship to Stanford. He was named Cal-Hi Sports’ Punter-of-the-Eighties.
The Cubs’ MVP was tailback Johann Fuller. The All-CIF Div.I performer was one of the premier backs in the Southern Section. He also won All-State honorable mention accolades. He played for Hampton Institute in Virginia. His batterymate, Mike Buckley, made the All-State Scholar Squad. Buckley took his running skills to Stanford, where he was awarded a football scholarship after his first season at The Farm. Mike Solum, an All-State honorable mention offensive guard, competed at USC, and Sean Doyle, an All-State Scholar Squad honoree, played for UCLA.
All-Del Rey League guard William Watson was a starter at Claremont. Ed Suazo was an All-Del Rey League center. Kieron Estrada earned All-League honors as a wide receiver. Defensive lineman Todd Brady was an All-Leaguer who matriculated at Dartmouth. All-Del Rey League linebacker Scott Kelley attended Santa Clara. Defensive back Paul Baker was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Joining him in the secondary was All-League safety Edgar Hussain.
Others earning All-League honors were noseguard Jason Casani, junior defensive ends Kyle Lewis and Steve Rodriguez and defensive back Kahlil “Kio” McAlpin. Two All- State Underclassmen made big impacts as juniors, offensive tackle Justin Yarro and linebacker Keven Dell’Amico.
They were called “The Lunch Pail Gang” because of their get-the-job-done, blue-collar work ethic. The 1989 Cubs were a tough, hard-hitting group led by a spirited and talented senior class which ranks among the best in Loyola grid annals.
A high-powered offense was led by All-CIF running back Kahlil “Kio” McAlpin, who rushed for over 1,200 yards. Despite his relatively diminutive physical dimensions, McAlpin was one of the toughest players ever to don Cub Blue.
The offensive platoon was the highest scoring (nearly 30 pts.- per-game average) units in Steve Grady’s tenure as head coach. That was, in no small measure, due to a big and powerful offensive line. The O-line was led by USA Today All-American (honorable mention), All-State (first team), All-CIF Southern Section/Division I tackle Justin Yarro. Yarro was among the top offensive linemen ever to compete for Loyola. He was awarded a scholarship to BYU. Center David Vida was an All-Central City, All- Del Rey League performer, who took his grid skills to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Joining Yarro and Vida on an outstanding line were All- League guards Steve Nuño and Mike Susank, and All-League tight end Patrick Gilhooly. Also on the all-league squad was junior tackle David Susank.
All-league wide receiver Sean Coston (USC) was a big and talented target for QB Brian Dennis, who threw for 1,200 yards.
Defensively, the ‘Wolfpack’ was spearheaded by a gifted athlete and tremendous competitor, Keven Dell’Amico. Keven was an All-CIF linebacker who made an indelible mark as one of the premier players to compete at a position which has produced top flight talent over the years at Loyola. He led the team in tackles and sacks and also saw double duty as a bruising, swift fullback. He opted to play collegiate baseball for Pepperdine University, where he led the team in hitting during the Waves’ 1992 NCAA World Series Championship season.
Other All-League standouts on a stingy defense were tackle Steve Rodriguez (Cal) and Kyle Lewis, junior defensive lineman Marcus Daly and junior LB Drew Casani. Cornerback John Cochran and junior safeties Sean Cardenas and Corby Smith also were accorded All-League recognition, as was outside linebacker Josh Goodell. Both soph punter John Stonehouse and junior kicker Lance Harmon were named to the first team all-league squad. Noseguard Jon Lindsay also played a key role on a stop squad rated as one of the CIF’s best.
The ’89 Cubs ran roughshod over Lakewood and highly regarded Redlands in the CIF Div.I playoffs by the combined score of 69-7. The Cinderella team of the playoffs, San Gorgonio, upset Loyola in the semifinal round on a windy night in San Bernardino. Despite five costly turnovers (two at the San Gorgonio goal line), Loyola was in the game until the very end. It was a bitter loss for a team that deserved to play for the CIF championship, but the effort and performance of the ’89 Cubs (10-2) exemplified what Cub Football is all about.
101 VICTORIES—FOUR CIF DIV. I TITLE GAMES—TWO CIF PLAYERS-OF-THE-YEAR
The moment, more than any other, that defined Loyola High School’s fourth CIF Major Division Football Championship season, that capsulized and characterized the spirit and strength of the 1990 Cubs, came late in the first quarter of the Division I title game at Anaheim Stadium on December 7. CIF Southern Section Co-Defensive Player-of-the-Year, team captain, team leader and as tough an inside linebacker as you will ever see, Drew Casani, fractured his leg. And he continued to play. To play for three more grueling quarters… for the pride, for the tradition, for the championship, for the Loyola Cubs.
There were many other moments. Defensive back Jimmy Schnieders knocking down a crucial fourth-down pass by Canyon’s quarterback in the semifinals of the playoffs to seal the Cubs’ trip to Anaheim. Jimmy Gruettner completing a 46-yd. flanker pass for a TD to split end Chris Walker to put the Cubs ahead 23-14 early in the fourth quarter of the championship game. The effort of the entire Cub defense in holding Quartz Hill on fourth and goal from the one yard line in the critical third quarter of the title contest. Matt Vanis’ 85-yard kickoff return to open the second half against St. John Bosco who was leading the Cubs 14-0. The defensive unit holding Fontana inches short of a first down in the waning moments of the fourth quarter of the playoff quarterfinals. Offensive guard Aaron Pingel going 23 yards for a first down on the Cubs’ TD drive against Fontana on a “Fumblerooski.”
Indomitable. The word that best defines the 1990 Loyola Cubs. Undefeated? No. Indomitable. Yes. These guys refused to be beat. They competed with uncommon fierceness and passion.
The season marked the first of two that Loyola was a member of the Angelus League. Such long-time powers as Bishop Amat, Servite and Mater Dei provided stiff competition for the Big Blue. While the Cubs were mistake-prone in a close 3-0 loss to Mater Dei at the Santa Ana Bowl and dropped a tough one to Bishop Amat, 25-14, in La Puente after leading 14-0, the fierce competition in the Angelus League prepared them well for the big battles in the Division I playoffs.
In the first round, Loyola’s running game was rolling in high gear as the Cubs downed Long Beach Jordan 42-14. One of Loyola’s all-time triumphs came in the quarterfinals when the heavily favored Steelers of Fontana invaded Glendale on the Friday following Thanksgiving. The Steelers had been nationally rated and were considered a major contender for the Division I title. The Cubs, though, would not be denied. They fought and clawed their way to a 10-7 victory before a capacity crowd. The highlight of the titanic showdown was when the Cub defense held the Steelers six inches short of a first down on a fourth and nine play in Cub territory late in the game.
In the semifinals, the Big Blue traveled to the Santa Clarita Valley to take on Canyon at College of the Canyons. The Cowboys of the Golden League had recorded a big upset win over Bishop Amat the week before and were one of the most talented and well-coached teams in the Southern Section. On a windy night before another capacity crowd, Loyola’s defense again rose to the occasion in a 10-3 win that sent the Cubs to the Division I Championship game at the Big ‘A’ in Anaheim.
Amid much hoopla and pageantry, the ‘not-to-be-denied’ Cubs rolled into Anaheim to take on Golden League champion Quartz Hill.
Quartz Hill was a team on fire, fresh off an impressive 37-7 thrashing of Mater Dei. The Rebels had a great offensive backfield and a defensive platoon that hadn’t given up a point in the second half of three playoff games. But the Cubs had been there before. A blocked punt by the Cub defense early in the game set the tone. A flanker pass for a TD early in the third quarter and an awesome defensive effort by the ‘Wolfpack’ shut out Quartz Hill after halftime, assuring Loyola of its fourth major division title.
It was a dream season. It was an illustration of what supreme effort can achieve.
No. 55 has been retired at Loyola. The player who wore it, Drew Casani, was named CIF Southern Section Co-Defensive Player-of-the-Year. It was the record sixth time a Cub had been so honored by the CIF. His ferocious play at linebacker set the cornerstone of the ‘Wolfpack’s’ domination. Casani walked on at Arizona State and battled his way up the depth chart to second string inside linebacker before a severe shoulder injury ended his playing career.
All-CIF Div.I/All-Southern Section defensive end Kevin Bender was equal to Casani in his bone-jarring style of play. All-CIF Div. I free safety Sean Cardenas roamed the secondary with uncommon aggressiveness. He was another of the team’s primary leaders. He played for the Cal Bears.
All-Angelus League tackle Marcus Daly (UCLA) was as dominating a defensive tackle as there was in Division I. All-Angelus League noseguard Scott McDonald played with the intensity that defined the Cub defense. David Susank, an All-Angelus League first team offensive tackle was a study in courage and commitment. He played six games with a torn ligament in his knee.
Corby Smith quarterbacked the Cubs. The All-Angelus League hon. mention signal caller’s play was critical to Loyola’s success in the playoffs. He was awarded a football scholarship to USC and later transferred to Iowa.
All-Angelus League honors were also awarded to center David Buether (Univ. of San Diego).
Kicker Lance Harmon, and guard Aaron Pingel (Univ. of San Diego) were key players in the title run. Twins Jimmy and Johnny Schnieders were perhaps the most unheralded members of the title team. Their speed and athleticism at the cornerback posts were among the primary reasons for the Cubs’ defensive success. Chad Nuss, an All-Angelus League safety, was another premier athlete in Loyola’s best secondary since 1975. Running back Alex Yeboah earned All-Angelus hon. mention accolades.
Juniors who gained post-season honors were All-Angelus League running back Matt Vanis (1,239 yds, 18 TD’s), All-CIF Div.I punter John Stonehouse, All-Angelus League wide receiver Darren Jenkins (32 receptions), offensive tackle Craig Stewart, linebacker Francis Porter, and defensive tackle Dino Voyne.
The bright lights of Anaheim Stadium will long shine for the 1990 Loyola Cubs, whose indomitable spirit led them to the highest heights–CIF Division I Champions.
The 1991 season opened with some big question marks, most of which still remained following a disappointing, lackluster loss to South Coast League power Mission Viejo. The Cubs regrouped in the second week of the season and displayed the offensive prowess that many anticipated before the campaign in hanging 51 points on outmanned L.B. Jordan.
The Cubs’ best game of the year came against top ranked Mater Dei. The Monarchs rolled into Glendale fresh off a 42-7 crushing of Mission Viejo, a team to whom Loyola had lost in its season opener. Mater Dei was being touted as the top team in the Southern Section, a claim that turned out to be true as the Monarchs beat Eisenhower, the No. one rated team in the nation, in the CIF Division I title game, earning them State Team-of-the-Year honors.
In a nearly flawless effort, the Cubs posted a major 28-20 victory over Mater Dei and its brilliant All-Southern Section QB Billy Blanton. Junior quarterback Clelio Boccato was a key to the win and established himself as a future Cub star. The win earned Loyola a share of the Angelus League crown.
For an unprecedented fourth consecutive year, Loyola steamed into the semifinal round of the CIF Div. I playoffs.
The Cubs downed traditional Sunset League power Huntington Beach Edison at Orange Coast College in the quarterfinals, setting up a rematch with Mater Dei.
Loyola traveled to Santa Ana for its second meeting with the Monarchs. With several starters out with injuries, the task was made all the more difficult for the Cubs. Before an overflow crowd, Monarch QB Billy Blanton was unstoppable. Despite a gallant second half comeback bid, the Cubs fell 35-21. The following week, Mater Dei downed title favorite, Eisenhower, 35-14, for the Division I Championship.
Senior punter John Stonehouse was named to USA Today’s first team All-American team. His strong right leg also earned him All-State, All-CIF Southern Section, All-CIF Div.I and L.A. Times All-Central City honors. He earned a scholarship to and played for USC.
Senior running back Matt Vanis (UCLA) gained 1,090 yards (6.8 yds per carry) and scored 14 TD’s to cap a brilliant career in which he gained over 2,000 yards. Vanis was also named to the All-CIF Division I and L.A. Times All-Central City squads.
Senior defensive end Chris Econn earned a scholarship to Duke and was named to the All-CIF Southern Section, Division I and L.A.Times All-Central City teams and was named Central City Linebacker-of-the-Year.
Calvin Newman led the team in tackles from his free safety position. He earned All-CIF Division I and All-Central City honors. A brilliant student, Calvin matriculated at MIT.
Junior QB Clelio Boccato was named to the All-Angelus League first team. He threw for 1,158 yards and accounted for 15 TD’s.
Among the other major contributors for the Cubs were senior offensive tackle Craig Stewart, an All-Angelus League, All-Central City player; senior All-Angelus League defensive tackle Dino Voyne; senior All-Angelus League wide receiver Darren Jenkins (553 yards); All-Angelus League senior center Ralph Willison; and outstanding senior All-Angelus League (second team) running back Michael Brown (886 yds., 6.7 yds. per carry). Junior offensive tackle Robert Jungerhans earned All-Angelus League (second team) accolades. Senior defensive end Tony Hovorka, senior safety Chad Fedrick and senior linebacker Francis Porter (Harvard) earned All-Angelus League (second team) honors. Senior tight end Ted Fourticq, senior defensive tackle Paul Rodarte and senior offensive guard Troy Wilson garnered All-Angelus League honorable mention accolades.
The ’91 Cubs (9-3, Angelus League tri-champs) will be remembered most for their offensive prowess, big game triumph over the State Team-of-the-Year (Mater Dei) and Loyola’s fourth consecutive appearance in the CIF Division I semifinals.
Loyola began the 1992 campaign rated as one of the top 25 teams in the nation. And for good reason. Returning to the Cub lair was senior signal caller Clelio Boccato, a brilliant leader with a strong and accurate right arm and quick feet.
With a 9-1 regular season record, Loyola was seeded third in the CIF Div.I playoffs. The first round contest against the Palmdale Falcons was a high scoring affair which ended in a 55-27 Cub victory. Loyola traveled to Redlands University for a quarterfinal tilt against the Redlands Terriers, and the Cubs ran away with a resounding 39-8 victory.
Entering the semifinal round of the major division playoffs for an unprecedented fifth consecutive season, the Big Blue had a formidable hurdle to overcome in long-time playoff rival Fontana. The Cub passing game was the difference in the Cubs’ 17-7 win over the Steelers.
On the day of the title game against Bishop Amat, a light morning rain gave way to clear afternoon skies, but the L.A. Rams’ rain clause forced the game to be moved from Anaheim Stadium to Cerritos College.
A well-played slugfest from start to finish, the contest was an even match with the Lancers holding on for a 7-3 win before a crowd of nearly 13,000. Coach Grady and his staff devised an excellent game plan that put the Cubs in position to win. After a long, sustained drive to the Lancer 14 yard line late in the game, with Amat leading 7-3, the Cubs failed to convert on a fourth-and-one play. The taste of defeat was bitter, but a talented, hardworking group of Cubs led Loyola to its seventh CIF Large Schools championship game appearance, a 12-2 record and the number seven spot in the final state rankings.
The deserving team MVP was Boccato. He threw for 1,795 yards (58%) and 17 touchdowns, rushed for another 311 yards and 7 TDs and earned All-CIF Div.I, All League and L.A. Times All-Central City accolades. He rates among the top quarterbacks in Cub Football history. Offensive tackle Robert Jungerhans (Harvard) also earned All-CIF Div.I, and L.A. Times All-Central City honors. Senior tight end Tom Lieb (28 rec., 532 yds, 6 TD’s) was also named to the All-CIF Div.I squad. Senior inside linebacker Fernando Chavez was another All- CIF and All-League honoree.
All-Del Rey League honors were earned by senior guard Steven Veres, junior center Kwame Cain (All-State Underclass), senior wide receiver Francis Dulnuan, junior defensive tackle Eric Scanlan, senior cornerback Dennis Clougherty (St. Mary’s), and senior defensive end Dennis Cummins.
Named to the All-Del Rey League second team unit were senior cornerback Jerome Henry (Iowa State), senior running back Eric Rogers (1,030 yds, 6.7 avg., 7 TD’s), who walked on at USC; senior offensive tackle John Fullerton; speedy senior wide receiver Michael Ratkovic (21 rec., 451 yds, 4 TD’s) (Occidental); and junior punter Anthony Scotti. Garnering all-league honorable mention recognition were senior offensive guard Christian Gascou (Boston College) and junior inside linebacker Todd Rosa.
The ’92 Cubs rate among the great Loyola teams of all time. They scored more points than any team in school history, but came up just short in the Div.I title contest to a team of destiny.
The ’93 season opened with great expectations but ended on a comparatively down note. The Cubs’ 8-4 record was the worst since 1980, but the team certainly wasn’t. It was an up and down campaign. The Cubs lost two games by one point and their biggest game of the year by four. The season ended in the CIF Div. I quarterfinals at the hands of Eisenhower, 37-19, which went on to win the CIF Div. I Championship with a 55-6 demolition of Mater Dei. The Eagles finished as the second-ranked high school team in the country.
Undoubtedly the best game of the year for the Cubs was played at San Diego Mesa College against perennial CIF San Diego Section power, Morse. Loyola headed back up the coast with a nearly flawless 37-7 victory over the shell-shocked Tigers.
Before an overflow crowd at Bishop Amat’s Kiefer Stadium, the Cubs and Lancers slugged it out for the league title in a defensive donnybrook. Lancer wide receiver Daylon McCutcheon’s grab of a deep bomb in the first quarter would prove the difference in the game. Mark McDonald hit the longest field goal (53 yards) in Cub grid history. Loyola’s offense knocked on the door, but couldn’t get it into the end zone.
The ’93 season served as a reminder that football truly is a game of inches. Two one-point losses make the 8-4 record deceiving. While the Cubs may not have played consistently to the level of their potential, the team was paced by some very talented and dedicated players.
The heart and soul of the squad was All-State/All-CIF defensive tackle Eric Scanlan. The L.A. Times All-Central City first teamer accepted a scholarship to Duke, where he started at noseguard. Joining Scanlan on the All-CIF Div. I team was safety David Olson. He also received All-State recognition. A great competitor and very talented athlete, Olson (Harvard) was also an All-CIF volleyball player. He took his grid talents to Harvard University. Junior kicker Mark McDonald was also named to the All-CIF Division I and first team All-Del Rey League teams. He kicked 11 field goals, including a 53-yarder against arch-rival Bishop Amat, and over 75% of his kickoffs sailed into or out of the end zone.
The Cubs’ most valuable player was L.A. Times All-Central City first team running back Kadar Hamilton (1,205 yds., 7.8 avg, 15 TDs). Hamilton was also the Del Rey League Co-Offensive Player-of-the-Year. He accepted a scholarship to play for Bill Walsh at Stanford, where he started in the defensive backfield as a freshman. Linebacker Kwame Cain was named to the L.A. Times All-Central City team and Del Rey League first team. Loyola’s student body president, Cain accepted an academic scholarship to Stanford.
Joining the aforementioned players on the All-Del Rey League first team were defensive end Vince Clougherty, offensive tackle Pat Barry, receiver Dan Torres, and punter Anthony Scotti. Scotti averaged nearly 42 yards per punt and earned a scholarship to SMU.
Second team All-Del Rey League honors were bestowed on QB Bobby Thomason, who threw for over 1,200 yards. Thomason started at quarterback for Columbia in 1995, 1996 and 1997. Brady Mutch (DB), Mike Rosa (LB) and junior Brian Duff (DB), junior center Mark Jeffries and junior tight end Joe Cesta were awarded second team all-Del Rey League accolades. Honorable mention all-league recognition was accorded to senior running back Blake Hennon and junior safety Patrick Klein.
The Cubs entered the ’94 season with some trepidation. The talented senior class of the year before had graduated, and there were question marks at several key positions. For the most part, Loyola achieved more than expected. On its surface, the final 8-3 record does not appear impressive, but when one surveys the teams who were victorious over the Cubs, the campaign must be viewed as a success.
The Cubs played archrival Bishop Amat nearly even, and, but for a handful of key miscues, nearly pulled off an upset of the then number one-ranked team in the United States. The season concluded with a playoff loss to Mater Dei, which ended up being named mythical National Champion by USA Today. The Cubs’ only other loss was to St. Paul at the Swordsmen’s home field.
Loyola opened the CIF Division I playoffs with a 34-8 shellacking of Lakewood, setting up a match with the tournament’s second seeded team and eventual CIF champ, the undefeated Monarchs of Mater Dei. The Cubs were pummeled 31-7, the worst loss the injury-plagued Cubs suffered since 1980.
The pass-catch battery of All- League quarterback Kyle Spielbuehler, Loyola’s Back-of-the-Year, and All-League wide receiver Danny Farmer, Loyola’s MVP, was the centerpiece of the Cub offense all year. Farmer started for UCLA, where the standout wide receiver ranked first all-time with 3,020 career receiving yards, second all-time with 159 receptions and third all-time with 19 touchdown catches at the end of his Bruin career. Farmer averaged nearly 19 yards per catch as a Bruin and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round of the 2000 NFL draft. Farmer also played volleyball for the Bruins’ NCAA championship teams in 1996 and 1998.
The Cub offense was anchored by All-State, All-CIF Southern Section, All-Del Rey League tackle Matt Pentecost (UCLA). Pentecost went on to win the California State championship in the shot put with a toss of 62’ 33/4” as well as the U.S. Track & Field Junior National Championship.
Center Mark Jeffries (Humboldt State) and kicker Mark McDonald earned first team All-League honors. McDonald’s kicking prowess earned him a scholarship to the University of Arizona.
Defensively, the Cubs were led by linebacker Joe Cesta, who went down with a season ending knee injury in the St. Paul game. He earned a scholarship to Arizona State, where he started at inside linebacker. Other first team defenders included nose guard Bryan Dunne, linebacker Andrew Kim, and defensive back Soren Solari. Kim, the school’s student body president and an honor student, matriculated at Harvard.
Earning second team All-Del Rey League accolades was junior running back Mike Vanis, who led the team in touchdowns (10), scoring, rushing (736 yards, 6.0 yards per carry) and all-purpose yards; junior guard Robert Quigley; and senior DB’s Stephen Dunne and Brian Duff.
All-league honorable mention honors were accorded defensive tackle Jim Ghezzi, safety Patrick Klein (who accepted a volleyball scholarship to Stanford), offensive guard Rich Ragus and wide receiver Don Smith (California). Both Pentecost and McDonald earned first team Los Angeles Times All-Central City accolades. Jeffries and Farmer were All-Central City second team honorees.
The ’94 campaign proved to be more successful than anticipated with two of the three losses to teams that were ranked number one in the country during, and at the end of, the season.
With only one returning starter on both the offensive and defensive lines, 1995 was not expected to be one of the more memorable campaigns in Cub grid annals, especially given the formidable pre-league and Del Rey League schedules.
In the opener against a talented, physical Fountain Valley squad, the Cubs were fortunate to eke out a 24-21 win. Starting QB Scott Walter played three quarters with a broken wrist and would be lost to the offense.
Perhaps the forces that create a team of destiny had already come into play, but few of the Loyola football faithful foresaw that the ’95 Cubs were destined for big things following the season opener.
The highlight of the pre-league campaign was an impressive 27-23 Cub victory over Hart. Hart went on to defeat Antelope Valley in the CIF Div. II championship game.
The CIF Division I playoffs commenced with nationally rated Fontana, L.B. Poly and Los Alamitos favored to make the finals. As magical and dominant a Cub playoff run as any in memory was about to unfold.
Loyola opened tournament play at home against the same Fountain Valley squad with which it had kicked off the season. The Barons were vanquished 38-18 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score.
The following week, the Big Blue traveled to Fontana to do battle with the undefeated Steelers, ranked fifth in the nation by USA Today. Few pundits gave the Cubs a chance against Fontana’s vaunted Steel Curtain defense. By the time the final gun sounded, the Cubs had rolled up 31 points against what was considered the top defense in California. The final score was 31-15 with the final Steeler TD coming against the Cub reserves.
The magic was sure to end in the semifinals against Los Alamitos, a team which began the season as the number one-ranked squad in the nation. The Griffins’ passing attack was awesome, with three major college prospects at QB (Kevin Feterik, BYU) and WR, Tony Hartley (Oregon) and Stan Guyness (USC). If the game turned into a shootout, conventional wisdom said the Cubs didn’t have a prayer. Conventional wisdom was proved wrong. After Los Al went up 20-7, the doubters figured the end was near, but the Cubs roared back before intermission, making the halftime score 20-13.
The fireworks continued in the second half with the teams exchanging touchdowns seemingly at will. A third quarter onside kick recovered by Loyola marked the ultimate turning point. Mike Giampaolo’s fourth quarter field goal proved the game winner, as Scott Walter broke up a fourth down pass late in the final stanza. Loyola’s improbable 37-34 triumph was among the biggest wins in Cub Football history.
The opponent in the CIF championship game was arch-nemesis Bishop Amat. And the contest was a classic. A late fourth quarter interception by the Lancers at the Amat 35 yd. line cost Loyola the game. While the 14-10 loss was heartbreaking, the Cubs battled every inch of the way. The athleticism of Lancer RB Ralph Brown, who scored on a 65 yard screen pass in the first quarter, was the difference. The Cubs finished 11-3.
Mike Vanis (UCLA), the Del Rey League Most Valuable Offensive Player, was among the best running backs in California. He was named All-CIF Div. I, completing his senior campaign with 1,612 yards rushing, 516 yards in kickoff returns, 137 yards in punt returns and 193 yard receiving (2,458 all-purpose yards) to cap a brilliant career with over 3,100 total yards. He was deservedly named the team’s MVP, and rates among the all-time Loyola greats at his position.
Matt Stoll was a first-team All- Del Rey fullback, and the team’s leading tackler on defense at linebacker. Senior guard Robert Quigley (Georgetown) was a force on both sides of the ball. He earned All-CIF Southern Section and All-Central City honors. Senior DL Steve Prejean (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 25 career QB sacks), who with Quigley was a co-captain, also earned All- CIF Division I recognition, along with first team All-League and second team All-Central City accolades. Senior kicker/punter, Mike Giampaolo (Harvard), converted on eight FGs, three of which were game winners. He was named to the All-CIF Division I team, All-Central City first team and All-Dey Rey League first team as a punter. Giampaolo kicked 10 field goals for Harvard in 1999, booted a team record nine PATs in one game against Dartmouth, and set career records for scoring by a kicker with 145 points and total punts with 215.
Other Cubs who played key roles and earned All-Del Rey League first team honors were Matt Peterson (WR), Joe Vivo (LB), Scott Walter (DB) and Erik McGoldrick (DB) (UC Davis). McGoldrick is now a medical doctor.
Second team All-League accolades were accorded Dan Afzali (C), Ray Kasper (QB 1,112 yds, 10 TD’s), Glenn Rudy (OT-Cal Poly San Luis Obispo), Ryan Capalbo (DB-led team in interceptions), junior Andy Kirwan (DL) and Loyola’s Coaches’ Award winner John Williams (LB-second leading tackler on team- Cal Poly San Luis Obispo).
All-Del Rey League honorable mention honors were earned by junior Antoine Harris (TE), junior John Hilvetrt (DB), and senior Jay Johnson (OG) and Mike Rosa (DE).
It was a season to remember. The ’95 Cubs improved from the beginning to the end of the season more than any Loyola team in memory, earning them an important place in the Big Blue’s illustrious grid tradition.
Five All-Del Rey League returnees from the ’95 CIF Division I finalist squad helped land Loyola among the state’s top five ranked teams in Cal-Hi Sports’ pre-season 1996 ratings. The high ranking appeared warranted through the first four contests as the Cubs demolished Hawthorne 48-7, Mira Costa 37-12, Saugus 35-6 and Serra 36-8.
Before yet another standing-room-only crowd at Glendale, Loyola would entertain archival Bishop Amat, whom the Cubs had not beaten since 1977. Since the Lancers joined the Del Rey League in 1990, the battles had been brutal, but Amat held the edge in every one.
Junior running back Welsey Willard rushed for over 160 yards to lead the Cubs offensively and All-American tight end/defensive end Antoine Harris also played brilliantly to help lead Loyola to a 23-14 victory before a jubilant home crowd.
The Amat victory set the stage for the Cubs’ first undisputed Del Rey League title since 1989.
In the first round of the CIF Div. I playoffs, the Cubs entertained the Eagles of Eisenhower at Pierce College. After being down 17-7 at halftime, the Cubs pulled out a dramatic 27-24 victory.
The Capistrano Valley Cougars traveled to Glendale for the quarterfinals. Capo Valley was among the most physical and talented teams in California. A defensive slugfest was broken open by Loyola junior running back Stephen Faulk’s 76-yard off-tackle sprint in the fourth quarter. The Cubs gave up a late score, but the final tally was 17-14 Loyola.
A rematch with unbeaten Fontana was the final obstacle separating the Cubs from their ninth trip to the Major Division title contest. Again, Loyola put out a great defensive effort, limiting the Steelers to less than 100 yards of total offense, sending Loyola home from Steel Town with a heartstopping 16-13 double overtime win and a date at the Coliseum.
The undefeated Monarchs of Mater Dei were the number one rated team in Southern California entering the CIF Division I title game at the Coliseum on December 14.
The media accorded the Cubs little chance, but Loyola played a great game. An early Cub fumble, and a Monarch interception, which was returned for a TD with no time left on the clock at the end of the first half, proved the difference in the game. Mater Dei’s 17-10 victory over the Cubs (12-2) not only clinched the CIF crown but the number one national ranking by USA Today.
The Los Angeles Times Glenn Davis Award honoring the top football player in Southern California was bestowed on the Cubs’ first team All-State tight end Antoine Harris. The 6-4, 230 lb. TE/DE was also named to multiple All-America teams and acclaimed the CIF Southern Section Defensive Player-of-the-Year. The latter award marked the seventh time a Loyola player was so honored. Number 80 has been permanently retired.
Harris, who led the team in receiving yards, TD receptions, and average yards per catch, was also the third leading tackler on defense and scored a TD on one of two interceptions from his defensive end post. Harris was named The Del Rey League’s Most Valuable Player and the Los Angeles Times Central City Lineman-of-the-Year.
Rated among the nation’s top prep tight ends, Harris accepted a scholarship to play at USC, where he was the Trojans starting tight end for four consecutive years.
Joining Harris on the All-CIF Southern Section team was senior OT and team co-captain John Kadzielski who played offensive guard and center for Harvard. Kadzielski is now a medical doctor. Defensive back John Hilvert (five INTs, one returned for a TD, fourth leading tackler, second leading receiver and leading kickoff returner, 30.4 avg.) was named to the All- CIF Division I team as was senior DT Andy Kirwan (Columbia) who was named the Del Rey League’s Defensive Player-of-the-Year.
Senior kicker/ punter Mike MacGillivray connected on 14 of 18 field goals, regularly kicked off into the end zone and averaged a then school record 43.4 yards on 37 punts. The All-State kicker was an All-CIF and All Central City honoree. His powerful leg earned him a scholarship to USC, where he kicked for a Trojan career record 11,200 yards on 298 kicks. MacGillivray punted the ball 50-plus yards 30 times, including five times in one game versus Arizona in 1999. MacGillivray also received USC’s Howard Jones Football Alumni Award as the senior with the highest grade point average.
Each of the Cubs’ All-CIF selections were named to the first team All-Dey Rey League team. Joining them on the first unit All-League squads were senior center Brian Rados, junior RB Wesley Willard (1,123 yds, 7.0 yds. per carry avg., 138 yds receiving), senior defensive end Jimmy Knipe and junior linebackers Derrigan Sheedy and Sloane Joseph, who were the team leaders in tackles.
Second team All-Del Rey honors were earned by senior quarterback Ray Kasper (1,007 yds, 55%, 12 TD’s) whose steady field generalship helped lead the Cubs to consecutive CIF championship games; senior safety Scott Walter (baseball scholarship to Loyola-Marymount University/ Kansas City Royals organization), who suffered a season ending knee injury in the sixth game but continued to be a key team leader and captain; senior OG Willie Bazdarich; junior running back Stephen Faulk (over 1,284 all-purpose yards, 16 TD’s); and junior OT Adam Barondess; senior NG Brian Long (Claremont-McKenna); senior DB Brian Nese; and junior DB Mark MacFarlane.
Senior All-Del Rey League hon. mention RB Jose Mendoza (626 yds, 6 TD’s) was one of the team’s unsung heroes. Senior NG Brad Chatman also earned all-league hon. mention notice.
The ’96 Cubs were a close knit, determined group who came up just short against the nation’s top-ranked squad.
The goals of the ’97 Cubs were to play in and win the CIF Div. I title game and finish the season undefeated. The previous two seasons, Loyola played for the Major Division title, but in both final tilts the Cubs came up short in 14-10 (’95 to Bishop Amat) and 17-10 (’96 to Mater Dei) heartstoppers. There was great reason for optimism in Cubville entering the ’97 season. Three first team and three second team all-league players were returning along with the players from the undefeated ’96 sophomore team.
In Loyola’s annual war with Bishop Amat before an overflow crowd at Kiefer Stadium in La Puente, the Cubs led 3-0 at halftime, thanks to senior kicker Shaun Mutch’s second quarter field goal. Few in attendance believed that three points would stand up for Loyola… but they did in one of the great Cub defensive efforts of all time. Senior defensive tackle Mike Long broke through the Lancers’ offensive line to throw Amat’s back for a loss on a 4th-and-one play deep in Loyola territory late in the game. The play was the highlight of a brilliant, passionate performance by Long. It was as sensational a single game performance by a defender as anyone associated with Cub Football can remember.
Following the win over Amat, Loyola rolled over Crespi 38-0, Alemany 49-0 and St. John Bosco 30-6. The Big Blue won the Del Rey League championship for the second consecutive season. Having outscored their Del Rey League opponents 144-13 and completed its first undefeated (10-0) regular season since 1988, Loyola was seeded third in the CIF Division I playoffs.
The Millikan Rams of the Moore League were a surprisingly worthy first round foe in the playoffs. Loyola advanced to the quarterfinals with a 14-0 win.
The quarterfinals saw the Cubs travel to Orange County for a match-up against traditional power Esperanza of the Sunset League. Loyola’s defense came up big once again with a 16-3 win.
The Cubs’ record was 12-0 heading into their semifinal showdown against the most dangerous offensive team in the Southern Section, the Jackrabbits of L.B. Poly. The game was played at East L.A. College in a steady rain.
Poly featured perhaps the fastest group of skilled athletes in CIF history. Poly’s junior corner Darrell Rideaux won the state championship in the 100m with a season best clocking of 10.3, and junior wide receiver Kareem Kelly won the state 200m. Few prep observers gave the Cubs much of a chance against a team that had scored 506 points and was averaging 42 points a game, including a three game Moore League stretch in which the ’Rabbits obliterated Compton 61-12, Lakewood 72-7 and L.B. Wilson 54-0.
With 5:47 left in the game Loyola was ahead 17-9, and Poly’s back was against the wall inside its own 10 yard line. The drenched Loyola faithful thought they would be on their way to the Coliseum the following Saturday. Lightning bolts struck twice in the blink of an eye as two huge plays led the Jackrabbits to a 24-17 win. With the brass ring clearly in sight, Poly used its incredible speed and athletic ability to oust the Cubs from the playoffs and deny them the goals they worked for a year to achieve. The Jackrabbits completed a 14-0 season with a title game triumph over Mater Dei. The win earned Poly the number two ranking in the nation.
For the Cubs, there was much to celebrate. Loyola fielded the best defense in the CIF Southern Section, set the school record for least points allowed in league play, and completed its first one-loss (12-1) season in ten years. The Cubs’ appearance in the semifinal round of the playoffs was their eighth in ten years.
Wesley Willard was Loyola’s and the Del Rey League’s Most Valuable Player. He was an uncommon competitor who constantly amazed both his coaches and teammates with his superior play despite his less than imposing physical dimensions (5-9,170). Willard rushed for 1,128 yards (6 yd. avg.) while doubling as a defensive back. He was the team’s scoring leader, the third leading tackler, the third leading receiver, the leader in punt return yardage, and he tied for the team lead in interceptions. He was the only three-year varsity starter in the senior class, and without his incredible production, Loyola would not have been 35-6 over his varsity career. A team captain, Willard was named to the All-CIF Div. I first team, and the All-Southern Section, and L.A. Times All-Central City second teams. He played football for Army for four years, and earned a Bronze Star for his service as an Army Ranger in Iraq.
Defensive Tackle Mike Long (Princeton) earned All-State second team, All-CIF Southern Section first team, and All-CIF Div. I and L.A. Times All-Central City first team honors. He was acclaimed the Del Rey League’s Most Valuable Defensive Player.
Co-captain Sloane Joseph was the spiritual leader of one of Loyola’s all-time great defensive platoons. A throw-back to earlier times, Joseph was a warrior. His passionate, hard nosed play earned him All-CIF Southern Section second team, All-CIF Div. I first team, L.A. Times All-Central City second team and first team All-Del Rey League acclaim. Joseph was a team captain and inside linebacker at Columbia, where he led the defense as a senior with 45 solo tackles.
Center Vince Gonzalez earned CIF Div. I first team and All-Del Rey League first team honors.
All-Del Rey League first team honors were earned by offensive tackle Adam Barondess (Villanova), wide receiver Sean Currin (641 yards)(Cal), tight end Peter Grant; kicker Shaun Mutch (10 FGs), junior linebacker Andrew Altman, senior outside linebacker Juan Escalera, senior noseguard Dan Fitzgibbons and Scott Silberberg.
Second team All-Del Rey League honors were bestowed on running back Stephen Faulk (1,010 yds, 7 yd. avg.), who doubled as a cover corner. Faulk was a starting All-Ivy League second team cornerback, kick returner, receiver and running back for the University of Pennsylvania, where he was also the Ivy League sprint champion. He was honored by his 2002 teammates as the 64th recipient of the Edgar Church Memorial Award. In 2001, Faulk received the Penn Football Award for special teams play and was named a National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete and Academic All-Ivy League.
Other second team All-League honorees were junior QB Chris Peterson (1,132 yds. 10 TD’s); senior wide receiver J.P. O’Hara (Whittier College), junior offensive tackle Scott Tercero, and senior DB Mark MacFarlane. Senior offensive guard Mike Harley earned All- League honorable mention.
Long-snapper Jeff Grau used his skill to earn an invitation to snap for UCLA where he was rewarded with a scholarship after his sophomore season. Grau was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the sixth round of the 2002 NFL draft and was later signed by the Dallas Cowboys.
Senior co-captain Derrigan Sheedy (Arizona) was a study in courage. He played two games with a stress fracture in his leg, and upon his return to action he broke his forearm, but continued to play nonetheless.
The legacy of the ’97 Cubs will probably be its defensive excellence. The 90 points scored by the opposition were the fewest allowed since 1987. The defenders set a school record in allowing just six points in league competition, a standard which will be difficult to surpass.
Expectations were high entering the ’98 campaign. The “Big Hit” junior first team linebacker Andrew Altman put on L.B. Poly All-CIF running back Herman Ho-Ching (Oregon) in the ’97 CIF playoff semifinals reverberated throughout the spring and summer. That knock-out was hoped to be a tone setter. QB Chris Peterson returned as did fellow second team all-league offensive tackle Scott Tercero.
Perhaps the highlight of the season was Loyola’s dramatic 22-21 win over CIF Div. III champion Hart and its All-American QB Kyle Boller (Cal/Baltimore Ravens), who is among California’s all-time great prep signal callers. The see-saw affair ended on a botched field goal attempt by Hart in the final seconds of the contest. While Boller and the Indians’ All-American receiver Jerry Owens (UCLA) put on an aerial show, it was Cub QB Chris Peterson’s two-point conversion run to put the Cubs up by a point which proved to be the difference. Hart went on to dominate its remaining opponents en route to the Div. III championship.
The game against arch-rival Bishop Amat ended in a 7-7 deadlock. It was a bittersweet outcome, as it was Loyola’s best game of the season.
The Cubs entered the playoffs as an at-large team. They traveled to Colton H.S. to play A.B. Miller of Fontana in the first round. A great team effort gave Loyola an impressive 34-13 win.
Before a standing-room-only throng at Glendale the following week, Loyola put up a valiant effort against number-one seeded L.B. Poly. Kareem Kelly’s (USC/New Orleans Saints) 80-yard TD catch from Chris Lewis (Stanford) was a demonstration of the blazing speed possessed by the Jackrabbits. Loyola’s season ended with a 35-20 loss to one of the nation’s premier teams. The Jackrabbits were upset in the CIF Div. I final by peaking Mater Dei two weeks later.
Loyola compiled a 9-2-1 record.
Andrew Altman, who doubled as a bruising fullback and inside linebacker, was the team MVP. The team co-captain earned All-CIF Div. I and Del Rey League first team honors. He was the Los Angeles Times Central City Linebacker-of-the-Year and was accorded All- State honorable mention accolades. Altman started at defensive end for Penn of the Ivy League.
QB Chris Peterson (Tulane/Cal Poly SLO) threw for 1,289 yards and 16 TDs. He gained 545 yards rushing (9.1 avg.) and scored six times on the ground. The team co-captain was the Del Rey League’s Offensive Player-of-the-Year and was named to the Los Angeles Times Central City first team offensive honor squad.
Senior offensive tackle Scott Tercero earned All-CIF Div. I, L.A. Times All-Central City, first team All-Del Rey League and All-State honorable mention honors. He was awarded a football scholarship to Cal, where he was an All-Pac 10 second team four-year starting offensive guard. In 2001, Scott received Cal’s Brick Muller Award as the Bears Most Valuable Lineman, and he was selected in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams.
John Grady fought bravely through mid-season injuries to gain 898 yards (6.2 average). He led the Cub rushing attack and was named the team’s Offensive Back-of-the- Year, and earned first team All-Del Rey League honors. Michael Grady, John’s brother, caught 26 passes and was also named to the first team All-Del Rey League squad.
Offensive tackle Patrick Girardi garnered first team All-Del Rey League accolades. Girardi was a co-captain and All-Ivy League second team offensive guard for Columbia.
Christian Rhodes was an All- Del Rey League first team safety. He led the team in interceptions. Rhodes was a tri-captain and starting defensive back for Fordham where he had seven career interceptions and 121 solo tackles.
Jonathan “J.J.” Nese was a two-way stalwart for the Cubs. He earned first team all-league honors as a corner.
Noseguard Kenny Watten was a first team All-Del Rey performer and Loyola’s Defensive Lineman-of-the-Year. Tight end John Guthrie and offensive guard Nathan Archunde (Iona) were second team all-league selections.
Senior defensive end Andres Garcia (USD), and tackles Greg Mundweil (CSUN) and David Hilton were named to the Del Rey League second team honor squad. Junior linebacker Nathan Dyce led the Cub defense in tackles and earned second team all-league recognition. Junior DB Taylor Williams was also a second team All-Del Rey selection, who led the team in kickoff return yardage and was the fourth leading rusher.
The ’98 campaign had its disappointments, but the season still stands as a winning chapter in Loyola’s rich gridiron tradition.
A strong group of returning skill players made prospects for the ’99 campaign look very bright, but the season appeared to be going down the drain in the first league contest. Casey Clausen (Tennessee) and De’Andre Scott led the Alemany Indians to a shocking 21-0 halftime lead at Glendale. It was gut-check time in the locker room for the Cubs, who erupted for 26 unanswered points after intermission, keyed by Justin Wesson’s 81-yard sprint to paydirt with a Matt Ware screen pass. In game nine Loyola shut-out archrival Bishop Amat, 14-0, in La Puente, and closed out the regular season with a 7-0 whitewashing of St. Paul, on the road, to wrap up the Del Rey League title. The Alemany game marked the turnaround and was the catalyst for improved play as Loyola embarked on its nineteenth consecutive trip to the CIF major division playoffs.
The Fontana Steelers were the Cubs’ first-round foe. Loyola thoroughly dominated the Citrus Belt League third-place finishers, running away in a 28-7 rout, highlighted by Taylor Williams’ 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half.
The Cubs entertained Sunset League champion Los Alamitos before a huge crowd at Glendale on Thanksgiving weekend. Two costly turnovers would spell doom for the Cubs. In one of the more exciting games of the decade, the Cubs regained the lead 16-13 with less than a minute to play. The Griffins had no timeouts remaining, and with four ticks left on the clock, a pass was completed to midfield where the Griffin receiver alertly ran out of bounds. The Los Al field goal unit took the field and the Loyola partisans were smelling victory. After two Cub time-outs, Los Al kicker Chris Kluwe (UCLA/ Minnesota Vikings) drilled a 60-yard field goal to tie the game. As Loyola looked on in stunned disbelief, the Los Al team and its fans erupted in delirious jubilation.
The Cubs scored in the first overtime of the tie-breaker to go ahead 23-16. On Los Al’s first possession on fourth and eleven, Loyola was flagged for pass interference on a very questionable call. The Griffins eventually scored to tie the game. 23-23.
In the second period, Los Al scored on its first play from scrimmage, a 25-yard pass on a streak pattern down the Loyola sideline. The Cubs were unable to score on their possession and Los Al snuck out of Glendale with a 30-23 double OT victory. It was a gutwrenching end to an up-and-down campaign.
Loyola senior co-captains Nathan Dyce and Taylor Williams (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) were co-MVPs of the team. Williams, a three-year varsity starter, rushed for nearly 1,100 yards while starting at corner where he earned All-Del Rey League accolades. Dyce led the team in tackles. Dyce was a dominating force at inside linebacker and earned All-CIF Division I and L.A. Times All-Central City honors.
Junior quarterback/free safety Matt Ware rolled up 1,498 all-purpose yards as a wide receiver, quarterback and punt returner, while patrolling the secondary with a vengeance at free safety. Ware took over the quarterback reins in game six, and was named the Del Rey League’s MVP for his efforts in helping lead Loyola to the league crown. Ware was also honored as Cal-Hi Sports’ California Junior Player-of-the-year, and earned All- CIF Southern Section, All-CIF Div. I, and L.A. Times All-Central City honors as a safety. Entering the 2000 season, Ware, who committed to UCLA, was a consensus pre-season All-American, and named to The Sporting News top 25 national list, as well as Street & Smith’s first team All-American honor squad.
Senior defensive end Damien Goodmon was named to the All- CIF Div. I and All-Del Rey League first teams.
Senior wide receiver Terry Bowman (UCLA), senior defensive tackle Chris Coots, senior defensive back Justin Wesson (UCLA), senior punter Robert Viola, junior offensive tackle Keith Ornelas and junior defensive end Joshua Quaye were named to the first team All-Del Rey League squad.
Second-team All-Del Rey League honors were earned by senior noseguard Michael Cuenca, senior offensive tackle Ben Redden, senior cornerback Michael Schnieders and junior wide receiver Greg Kavulich. All-League honorable mention notice was accorded senior offensive tackle Brian Proctor and senior center Jeff Salcido.
While the ’99 season (8-4 record) did not meet the team’s expectations, winning the Del Rey League was a great accomplishment, and another banner chapter in Loyola’s rich legacy of champions.
THE FIRST DECADE-21ST CENTURY TWO CIF DIV. I CROWNS, ONE CIF FINALS APPEARANCE, THREE CIF PLAYERS-OF-THE-YEAR
With supremely talented All-CIF Southern Section two-way star Matt Ware returning for his senior year, there was great optimism as the 2000 season opened in Cubville; however, the CIF prep pundits didn’t pick Loyola as a preseason favorite to make its fifth appearance in the CIF Div. I title game since 1990. So the Cubs had something to prove, and fourteen weeks after the campaign kicked off in San Francisco, Loyola came within a whisker of knocking off L.B. Poly in the title contest at Edison International Field on December 9th.
Fellow Jesuit prep school St. Ignatius of San Francisco proved no match for the Cubs in the City-by-the-Bay in the season opener. The schools had not met since 1935, so the trek to San Francisco was a treat for Cub players, alumni, and fans. Ware and company put on an offensive show in a 42-7 rout at Kezar Stadium, the first home of the San Francisco 49ers.
The league title was on the line in the final game of the season against St. Paul at Pierce College. Again, the Cub defense played lights out football, shutting down the Swordsmen 21-14 to capture the Del Rey League crown for the second consecutive year.
In the first round of the CIF Division I playoffs, Loyola put away the pesky Rialto Knights 35-16 after a dangerously close first half. The following week, the Cubs traveled to Orange Coast College for a quarterfinal battle with the Edison Chargers. After a dominating first half performance by Loyola, the contest became much closer when the Chargers returned an interception for a TD early in the second half. Defensive end Nathaniel Greene made a key fourth down tackle of the Chargers’ tailback late in the game to seal the victory.
The speed-laden Citrus Belt League champion Eisenhower Eagles traveled to Moyse Field for a semifinal showdown. It was a thriller, with the Cubs shooting the Eagles down 17-14 in overtime.
Few prep football experts accorded the Cubs a chance against L.B. Poly in the CIF Div. I Championship game at Edison International Field. With fifty seconds left in the war for the title trophy, Loyola held a 10-7 lead, following a late Poly fumble, Cub guard Mike Wagoner’s 42 yard run on a “Fumblerooski” and Matt Ware’s TD pass to junior tight end Joe Killefer. The Jackrabbits’ frantically put together a drive in the final fifty seconds, setting up a game-tying field goal with four seconds left. Nathan Oakes kicked a field goal on the Cubs’ possession in OT, but Poly scored a TD on a screen pass on its possession to capture the game, 16-13, and with it the CIF crown. The big story of the contest was Loyola’s defense holding Poly’s high scoring offense to three offensive points in regulation. The Jackrabbits’ lone TD came on a blocked punt in the end zone.
Loyola finished the season rated 15th in the nation and third in the state behind Concord De La Salle and L.B. Poly.
Matt Ware, the Cubs’ MVP, was deservedly honored as the CIF Player-of-the-Year. He was a USA Today first team All-American, Parade All-American and named to every other prep All-American team. He was the L.A. Times Central City and Del Rey League Player-of-the- Year and was first team All-State. The Cub QB, Ware rushed for 1,030 yards and 16 TDs (7.5 yd per carry average), and threw for 1,039 yards and seven TDs, the first time a Loyola signal caller had both run and passed for over 1,000 yards. He also made 58 tackles and had three interceptions as a free safety and was regarded by recruiting experts as the top DB recruit in the nation. Ware started at cornerback as a true freshman for UCLA in 2001, earning Pac 10 Freshman-of-the- Year honors. He was named first team Freshman All-American by The Sporting News. He played for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.
Linebacker Jordan Trott was named to the All-CIF Div. I squad and was the Del Rey League’s and L.A. Times Central City Defensive Player-of-the-Year and Lineman/ Linebacker of the year after leading the suffocating Cub defense with 115 tackles. The 6-4, 245 pound athlete was the first Loyola player to be awarded a scholarship to Virginia Tech.
Offensive tackle Keith Ornelas (6-4, 299) was an All-State offensive tackle, was named first team All- Del Rey League and was co-winner of Loyola’s offensive excellence award. He was awarded a football scholarship to Cal.
Greg Kavulich was a two-way starter for the Cubs (WR/DB). An inspirational competitor, Kavulich earned All-CIF Div. I accolades as a cornerback in addition to first team all-league honors. Kavulich started at defensive back as a true freshman for the St. Mary’s Gaels in 2001. He was named honorable mention I-AA All-American in 2002.
Defensive end Josh Quaye earned All-CIF and All-Del Rey League billing along with Loyola’s Defensive Lineman-of-the-Year award. He continued his football career at Fordham.
Junior linebacker Chad Slapnicka also earned All-CIF honors, a rare honor for an underclassman. The All-Del Rey League linebacker was the team’s second leading tackler and earned Loyola’s Defensive Excellence award.
Rounding out Loyola’s impressive list of All-CIF honorees was kicker Nathan Oakes. The All-Del Rey League kicker made 49 of 50 PATs and made seven of eight field goal attempts, including a 46-yarder in the CIF title game.
Other players who earned first team All-Del Rey League honors were wide receiver Lance Martin, junior tight end Joe Killefer, and guard Michael Wagoner, Loyola’s Offensive Lineman-of-the-Year. Other first team All-Del Rey League honorees were defensive end Nathaniel Greene, and junior defensive lineman Branko Seretti.
Second team All-Del Rey League accolades were bestowed on running back Josh Soria, wide receiver Greg Kavulich, center Tyler Slattery, offensive tackle Justin Duchaineau, sophomore safety Quintin Daniels and junior noseguard Michael Hilsman. All- Del Rey League honorable mention honors were earned by sophomore running back Bo Renaud and junior defensive lineman Kevin Harbour, both of whom came on like gangbusters during the CIF playoffs.
The 2000 season ended with a No. 15 national ranking, a 12-2 record and a CIF Div. I Runner-up trophy, not a bad way to start a new century of Loyola’s championship legacy.
On the heels of a final top-20 national ranking in 2000, Loyola was highly regarded entering the 2001 campaign. The season began with a 35-0 whitewash of brother Jesuit school San Francisco St. Ignatius at Glendale’s Moyse Field.
Loyola opened Del Rey League play with a resounding 48-13 thumping of outmanned Alemany at home. The league title was on the line the following Friday before a packed house at Bishop Amat. The Lancers’ Donnie McClesky (Cal), broke several tackles for a long distance touchdown late in a seesaw game. Turnovers hampered the Cubs in a 20-14 loss. Loyola was flat in the league finale at St. Paul. On the game’s last play, the Swordsmen threw a fourth down TD pass, and the contest ended in a 10-10 deadlock.
The Cubs entered the CIF Div. I playoffs as the number two representative out of the Del Rey League. They faced the daunting task of traveling to Rialto to take on the fast, talented Eisenhower Eagles in the first round. Few prep prognosticators predicted the outcome, a decisive 28-14 Loyola triumph.
Loyola faced a major challenge in the quarterfinals at East L.A. College, where it hosted eventual CIF Div. I champion L.B. Poly. Loyola lined up for an onside kick with two minutes remaining, down 21-13, but Poly recovered and the Cubs were eliminated from the playoffs. Loyola’s gritty performance, though, earned it much respect as the game was by far the Jackrabbits’ toughest of the season, save for their loss to national champion Concord De La Salle. The Cubs finished 7-3-1.
Senior co-captains (OT/DE) Justin Duchaineau (Loyola’s MVP, and Del Rey League Most Valuable Lineman/All-Central City) and Chad Slapnicka (LB) earned All-CIF accolades. Slapnicka earned second team All-State, CIF-All-Southern Section, All Del-Rey League first team and L.A. Times All Central City first team honors. He attended Pennsylvania of the Ivy League, where he enrolled in the Wharton School of Business.
Defensive lineman Kevin Harbour (UCLA) was named to the Del Rey League and L.A. Times All-Central City first teams.
Tight end/defensive end Joe Killefer was named first team All- Del Rey League and Loyola’s Lineman-of-the-Year. He played tight end at Dartmouth of the Ivy League.
Other Cub seniors awarded post-season honors were nose guard Mike Hilsman (All Del-Rey League second team), punter Max Garcia (All Del-Rey League first team, Scholar Athlete Award/Stanford); defensive tackle Branko Seretti (All-Del Rey League first team); WR Alex Koplin (Villanova/All-Del Rey League second team); safety Chase Brogan (All-Del Rey League second team); Dodge Williams who fought through a debilitating intestinal disorder and broken leg to suit up for the Cubs (Most Inspirational); and Noah Altman (Samurai Award winner with 150 of 151 lifts traveling from Thousand Oaks).
The 2001 Cubs were unusually young. A trio of talented juniors led the Loyola offense, and each earned All-Del Rey League first team honors. QB Adam Gonzalez threw for 1,444 yards and 11 TDs and rushed for 364 yards and five TDs. Tailback Bo Renaud rushed for 1,020 yards and 14 TDs. WR/FS Quintin Daniels earned All-State Underclass first team multipurpose (WR/DB) accolades. He caught 32 passes for 563 yards and 6 TDs and rushed nine times for 145 yards.
Junior linebacker Scott Willard led the ‘Wolfpack’ defense in tackles and earned second team All- Del Rey League honors. Junior center Joe Weber and junior guard Clarence Funtanilla earned All-Del Rey League second team notice. Sophomore offensive tackle Mark Gray earned a spot on the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Sophomore team.
As it turned out, uncharacteristic turnovers prevented the Cubs from reaching their goals in ’01, but there were many bright spots along the way.
Loyola’s 2002 campaign commenced with high rankings and great expectations. But the road proved far rockier than the Cubs could have imagined after they dispatched Hawthorne with ease, 34-6, in the opener at Hawthorne.
Injuries to key players were among the hurdles Loyola faced along the way. The trials and tribulations did not take their toll until Serra League competition got under way in week six.
Loyola’s inaugural foray into the buzz saw known as the Serra League was anything but easy. The nadir of the campaign surely had to be the league opener against Mater Dei at East Los Angeles College. The Cubs never got on track and nothing went right for the Big Blue in a 28-10 loss to the Monarchs. It was Loyola’s worst league loss in eighteen years.
The malaise from the Mater Dei loss haunted the Cubs in Bellflower in the second Serra League game as Loyola fell to the eventual league champion Braves 26-14. It was Loyola’s first loss to Bosco since 1986, but unbeknownst to the Cubs they would get another shot at the Braves down the road.
Loyola downed Santa Margarita 7-0 at Glendale in another performance that was far from vintage Loyola football. In an absolute muddy quagmire the following week at Glendale against archival Bishop Amat, it was as though the two teams were playing on different surfaces, and it was Loyola that was stuck in the mud in a 21-7 loss to the Lancers.
The Cubs were teetering on the brink of disaster entering their Serra League finale against the favored Servite Friars at Fullerton High School. A loss could have kept Loyola out of the playoffs for the first time in twenty-three seasons.
In a performance that defined the grand tradition of Cub Football, Loyola downed the Friars 21-12. The resounding victory infused new life into a team that had been on the precipice.
The Cubs entered the CIF Div. I playoffs on the road against Moore League second place representative Lakewood. Loyola played another superb game. Led by team Co-MVP Bo Renaud’s rushing exploits, the Cubs beat the Lancers 24-17.
In the quarterfinals at Glendale the day after Thanksgiving, the Cubs put on their best performance of the year against Serra League champ St. John Bosco, a team to whom they had lost five weeks before. It was a sterling display of execution on both sides of the football for the Cubs in a convincing 38-8 victory.
The big win against Bosco set up a semifinal showdown against eventual CIF Div. I Champion Los Alamitos at Edison International Field. The Griffins were hitting on all cylinders en route to a 31-7 win. It was far from the Cubs’ best effort, but Los Al left no doubt it was the CIF kingpin. The following week, the Griffins humbled Mater Dei in the championship game 40-14.
Senior running back Bo Renaud (Loyola Co-MVP, Serra League Most Valuable Back) ended his brilliant Loyola career with 1,868 yards rushing (5.7 yds per carry) and 22 touchdowns. He was the key to Loyola making its tenth CIF semifinal playoff appearance in fifteen seasons.
Senior tight end/defensive end Mike Horgan (Stanford) was Loyola’s Co-MVP. The team captain was named the Los Angeles Times’ Central City Most Valuable Lineman and was a first team All-Serra League defensive lineman.
Other Cubs who received All-Serra League recognition were senior center Joe Weber (first team and Los Angeles Times’ All-Central City), senior offensive tackle Greg Rosa (second team), senior guard Adam Guerra (second team), senior linebacker and co-captain Scott Willard (second team, led team in tackles) and senior cornerback Jesus Cuellar (second team).
Senior wide receiver/safety Quintin Daniels was hampered by a hamstring injury, but it did not stop him from leading the Cubs in receptions and receiving yards (358 yds., 16.3yd. avg.). Daniels started at safety for the West team in the prestigious Army All American Bowl played in San Antonio and was a starter at Washington.
Special recognition should be given to senior quarterback/defensive back Adam Gonzalez. A shoulder injury kept him from finishing his senior year at QB, but he made big contributions as a corner. Gonzalez and teammate Andrew Morris played for Iona in New York. Senior DB Matt Rising, Loyola’s Student Body President, competed at Duke.
The 2002 season ended with a deep run in the CIF Div. I playoffs, a game short of pre-season goals. While the 9-4 record was a comparative disappointment, the 2002 Cubs will be remembered for their resolve and grit in turning the season around.
A s the scoreboard clock at Home Depot Center ticked down to 0:00 on December 12, 2003, following Loyola’s ferocious sack of Long Beach Poly’s quarterback, uncontained jubilation erupted on the Cub sideline. Loyola had capped a 14-week march to the school’s fifth CIF Southern Section Large Schools Championship with an emphatic 21-17 victory over the number one seeded Jackrabbits.
It was a triumph of stupendous proportion, one for the ages in Loyola’s long and illustrious grid history.
The CIF Division I Championship resonated for myriad reasons, perhaps one of the most noteworthy being the daunting, perilous path the Cubs were forced to take on their title trek. Loyola’s road to the Division I Championship was highlighted by hard fought victories over longtime nemesis Mater Dei (31-28 in double overtime), Serra League foes St. John Bosco (29-24), Santa Margarita (21-7 on the road), Bishop Amat (28-5 in La Puente), Amat again (10-9) in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs, Los Alamitos (22-15 in OT) in the semifinals and L.B. Poly in the title game. A more challenging obstacle course to the CIF crown would be difficult to fathom.
The Cubs’ focus and commitment reached an apex in the CIF title game. While prep football pundits droned on about Poly’s speed and athleticism giving it the edge in pre-game prognostications, the Cubs knew better – they knew their indomitable spirit and considerable yet under appreciated talent would earn them the CIF trophy.
The players defined their success as a function of great heart. And that heart was displayed on many occasions throughout the 2003 campaign …defeating Mater Dei in double overtime at the Monarchs’ homecoming, blocking Bishop Amat’s potential game-winning field goal attempt in the final seconds of the quarterfinals, the epic four-down goal line stand in overtime against Los Alamitos in the semifinals and the comeback from a 14-0 deficit to defeat L.B. Poly for the CIF title.
Guided by Cal-Hi Sports’ California Coach-of-the-Year, Steve Grady (269-77-6), the 2003 Loyola Cubs ignored the naysayers after their 3-3 start, and embarked upon an eight game victory skein second to none in Loyola grid history.
Quarterback Scott Deke was acclaimed the CIF Division I Player-of-the-Year and the Serra League’s Co-Most Valuable Player. Deke, a quad-captain, threw for 2,150 yards and 22 touchdowns to pace a balanced offensive attack. He also rushed for 399 yards. He accepted a football scholarship to Virginia.
Joining Deke on the All-CIF Division I and first team All-Serra League honor squads were cornerback Jim Abbott (winner of Loyola’s Defensive Excellence Award and also a standout wide receiver, kick and punt returner/ USC), offensive tackle Mark Gray (a quad-captain and the team’s Lineman-of-the- Year/Cal), defensive end Chris Juaregui (a Los Angeles Times All-Region selection, who was also an outstanding strong guard and team captain, University of Pennsylvania) and defensive end Ian Wilson (Loyola’s MVP and team captain, who doubled as the team’s second leading wide receiver and played at Dartmouth).
Other Cubs who earned All-Serra League notice were senior center Will Alvarenga, senior wide receiver Chris Johnson, senior free safety Hunter Armour (U.S. Naval Academy), junior tailback Trason Bragg (1,102 yards rushing, 14 TDs, and starting strong safety), junior kicker Thomas Weber (5 FGs with a long of 46 yards) and junior linebacker Brian Rey.
Second team All-Serra honors were bestowed on senior tight end Matt Hillier, senior quick guard Steve Westhoff (Loyola Scholar Athlete Award winner/Cal lacrosse), junior fullback George Hypolite (669 yards, 6.1 yards per carry average and 89 yards on 12 carries in the CIF title game), senior nose guard Cody Oleson, junior defensive tackle Desmond Taylor and junior cornerback Matt Appenfelder (leading receiver with 534 yards and 5 TDs, Cal-Hi Sports All-State Underclass).
Junior two-way tackle Tim Walter was named to the CalHi Sports All-State Underclass team.
The 2003 Cubs cemented their place in the Big Blue’s Championship legacy by leading Loyola to its fifth CIF Major Division Championship. They were not only a team of great talent, but also of great heart.
Stocked with a nucleus of top-flight returnees from the 2003 CIF Division I Championship team, Loyola had its eyes firmly set on a repeat run to the title game in 2004.
The season started auspiciously as the Cubs outscored their first four foes 148-16 (37-4 avg.). Behind the dual threat exploits of talented senior quarterback Casey Frost, who finished the season as the Cub MVP - he led the club in passing and rushing (1,169 yds, 62%; and 854 yds., 8.4 yds per carry, respectively)- Loyola moved rapidly up the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings until it was derailed by rival Newhall Hart 17-16 in week five.
Loyola regrouped to win the Serra League crown for the second consecutive year. The big win was over Mater Dei (14-7) at Glendale before a full house on October 30; but the nadir of the ’04 league campaign was in the finale at Pierce when a flat Cub squad was shocked by Santa Margarita 20-15.
In the first round of the CIF playoffs, Loyola took out the Edison Chargers 28-14 at Glendale, setting up a showdown in the quarterfinals with a Lakewood Lancer team that was considered by many to be the best in school history. Among the standouts for Lakewood was linebacker Luthur Brown (USC).
In a hard hitting battle at Glendale, injury-plagued Loyola was upset by the Moore League runner-up. A Cub score was called back in the first half and late penalties assessed against Loyola proved highly costly. Lakewood lost the following week to Los Alamitos in a close scoring semifinal nail biter.
The Lakewood loss was a bitter ending for a team that began the season with repeat CIF title aspirations.
Frost was named first team All- CIF Div. I and L.A. Times All-Central City, along with senior center Octavio Dominguez. Frost took his skills to Dartmouth College and Dominguez cast his lot with Chapman University.
All-CIF accolades were earned by senior defensive lineman Tim Walter and senior kicker Thomas Weber (Arizona State 2007 Lou Groza Award/Cincinnati Bengals). Walter also received Cal-Hi Sports All-State notice as well as All-Southern Section first team acclaim. Walter was the starting center at Colorado State for three seasons.
Loyola’s All-Serra League first team honorees were seniors Matt Appenfelder (Pennsylvania), who led the team in receptions and punt and kick return yardage; tight end Dominic Gonzalez (Chapman); tailback Trason Bragg (UCLA) and a three year starter at strong safety; linebacker Brian Rey; defensive end George Hypolite, who was awarded a football scholarship to Colorado where he earned All-Big 12 honors; and defensive lineman Desmond Taylor, who was granted a scholarship to Northwestern University, where he was All-Academic Big 10; and junior linebacker Ramon Estrada, who led the defense in tackles.
Second team All-Serra honors were earned by senior free safety Bucky Burge, senior WR/DB/utility player Kalani Hobayan, junior WR Marcus Lawrence (22 yds. per reception), junior offensive guard Nick Bertole, junior tailback Russell Oka (8.2 yds. per carry) and junior DE Hamilton Augustine.
Frost was the Serra League’s Co-MVP and Walter was the league’s Co-Most Valuable Lineman.
The ’04 Cubs finished 9-3 and had some outstanding moments along the way, but came up short on their preseason goal of returning to the CIF title game. Eleven members of the team moved on to play collegiate football. It marked the final campaign of legendary head coach Steve Grady (269-77-6, two CIF Div. I Championships and three CIF Div. I finalist teams).
There were the doubters … there were the detractors … there were those who said the Cubs had no chance. New coach, new offense, new defense, differences and changes at every turn from the monumental, legendary past. Heck, the Los Angeles Times didn’t even rank Loyola in its preseason top 25 for the first time in memory. Tradition alone apparently had no currency in the minds of many.
The single most important element the naysayers forgot to account for was the tradition of excellence that courses through the veins and has a place in the hearts of the generations of competitors who strap up the hallowed blue helmet of the Loyola Cubs.
Loyola – not a top 25 team – what with 11 trips to the CIF Division I semifinals, or beyond, since 1988, including six championship game appearances since 1990. Maybe one of the factors that pushed this group of seniors was the apparent lack of respect – for the tradition and standard of excellence that was part of their lifeblood as bearers of their proud moniker, the Loyola Cubs. There is no question that the Steve Grady ethos had a huge carry-over effect.
There has never been a Loyola player who performed with more moxie, brilliant consistency and superb execution than 2005 CIF Div. I Offensive-Player-of-the-Year, Henry Burge. The senior quarterback set school records in every passing category. Burge completed 66% of his passes for 2,806 yards and 26 TDs. With uncanny aplomb, he invariably found open receivers, completing accurate pass after pass. The All-Serra League signal caller was deservedly named Loyola’s MVP and won the Steve Grady Captain’s award. He also earned All-State honorable mention.
The primary beneficiaries of Burge’s superb throwing arm were immensely talented senior All-CIF Division I/All-Serra League wide receivers Marcus Lawrence (74 receptions, 970 yards, 13 TDs) and Taylor Joseph (62 receptions, 918 yards, 9 TDs). Lawrence and Joseph were named Loyola’s Co-Most Valuable Offensive Players. Joseph played for Columbia, and Lawrence for Pennsylvania.
Also receiving All-CIF Div. I All-Serra League honors was senior linebacker Ramon Estrada (Loyola defensive MVP), who led the Cub ‘Wolfpack’ in tackles (128).
Senior free safety Adam Stout led the ‘Wolfpack’ with eight interceptions and was the team’s third leading tackler with 88. He earned All-CIF Div. I and All-Serra League honors and played for Princeton.
Senior two-way starter Nick Bertole was a Cub ironman. Another Steve Grady Captain’s Award winner, Bertole was the Cubs’ second leading tackler, despite not starting at linebacker until game three. He also excelled at right guard. The All-Serra League honoree was named to the Cal-Hi Sports’ All- State team as an All-Purpose player.
Junior Joe MacMillan (Redlands University) was named to the All- CIF Div. I team as a kicker. MacMillan converted 43 PAT kicks and made 12 FGs.
Other major contributors to the Cubs ’05 CIF Championship campaign were All-Serra League corner/ kick returner/WR Reynolds Holmes (23.4 yards per reception and 17.8 yards per carry as a ball carrier). The supremely talented student athlete attended Yale.
Chad Peppars, Loyola’s Back-of-the-Year, was a first team All-Serra League tailback (1,093 yards, 13 TDs; 21 receptions, 207 yards) who was a threat to go the distance every time he touched the ball. His exceptional skills earned him a scholarship to the University of Oregon, where he was recruited as a defensive back.
Loyola’s Lineman-of-the-Year, Jonathan Summers, was named by Cal-Hi Sports to its All-State Football/Track team. He played football at Dartmouth.
Senior Russell Oka was one of the toughest players to ever don Cub Blue. The 5’ 5”, 150 lb. tailback was as exciting a running back as there has ever been at Loyola. The winner of Loyola’s Samurai Award (98 of 99 lifts), Oka was a critical part of Loyola’s CIF Championship campaign.
Other senior stalwarts for the CIF Champion Cubs were center James McDonnell, guard Matt Hammel, fullbacks Daniel Clark and Joe Mendoza, defensive end Pat Hernandez, defensive linemen Taani Fuahala and Mike Coleman, and linebackers Brian Clark and Brent Baltimore.
The Cubs kicked off the campaign with a 28-3 win over out-manned Regis in Aurora, Colorado. Loyola’s best comeback win was against Antelope Valley, 44-29, in week four. The Big Blue nearly pulled off another dramatic comeback against Hart in week five, before falling 34-27.
The ultra-competitive Serra League campaign opened with an impressive 25-18 Cub road victory over Santa Margarita. The following week, a very physical Bishop Amat squad took it to the Cubs. Loyola led 14-7 early in the third quarter, but several Cub miscues helped the Lancers pile it on, 28-14. The Amat debacle was followed by a heartbreak loss to Servite, who scored on the last play of the game for a 29-28 Friar victory.
Loyola’s ’05 squad came of age in its 16-13 overtime loss to Mater Dei in Santa Ana. The Cubs played hardnosed football on both sides of the ball from start to finish. A 24-3 league final win over St. John Bosco allowed the Cubs to tie for third in the league. A successful coin toss got Loyola into the Div. I playoffs as the third place Serra League representative.
A first round nail-biter against Lakewood ended in a 20-16 Cub victory. Burge’s play-action TD toss to Taylor Joseph late in the fourth quarter and Reynolds Holmes’ kickoff return to set up the latter play were the difference. Oka also had a brilliant night with 215 yards rushing.
Loyola downed number one seed Edison in a quarterfinal contest on the road, 26-22, before an overflow crowd at Huntington Beach. It was an impressive win, setting up a rematch with Mater Dei in the semifinals.
The Cubs dominated the Monarchs in the rain at East L.A. College en route to a 14-0 victory. It was on to the CIF Finals for the third time in six seasons and second in three campaigns.
The championship game against Esperanza was as exciting a football contest as you could ever want to see. The seesaw battle pitting the Aztecs’ wing-T running attack against Loyola’s wide open passing assault was a classic. The Aztecs dominated the third quarter to tie the game 28-28. Esperanza pulled ahead 35-28, and 42-35 with just 2:03 remaining in the game. But Burge threw TD passes to Joseph with 58 seconds left and to Lawrence with 52 seconds remaining, after junior Dylan Westhoff recovered an Aztec fumble following the Cubs’ game-tying touchdown with less than a minute remaining, to cap Loyola’s dramatic 49-42 triumph.
A magical campaign. One of the greatest in Cub football annals. Loyola: CIF Div. I Champs! There were no more doubters.
The 2006 Cub football campaign was one of disappointment.
Finishing with a 4-6 record, a last place finish in the revamped Serra League and missing a trip to the Southern Section playoffs for the first time since 1980, the Cubs’ season ended in an overtime loss to long-time rival Bishop Amat on the second Friday in November.
The lone bright spot of the season was a tremendous come-from-behind last minute 14-10 victory over state-ranked Compton Dominguez.
Leading the way for the Cubs on the post-season honors list was senior wide receiver/defensive back Chris Conte, who was named first team All-CIF Pac-5/All-Serra League. Loyola’s Most Valuable Offensive Player, Conte was awarded a football scholarship to Cal, where he was a starting corner as a true freshman. He is a starting safety for the NFL’s Chicago Bears.
Senior safety Chris Stanley (Yale) earned second team All-Serra notice and Loyola’s Co-Most Valuable Defensive Player Award. Senior linebacker Dylan Westhoff (Cal lacrosse) was a second team All-Serra League linebacker
On the heels of the Cubs’ first losing campaign in 26 seasons, 2007 was expected to be a turnaround year. Unfortunately, Loyola finished with the same record (4-6) as it did in ‘06. The Cub ‘Wolfpack’ defense returned to its traditional 5-2 scheme. The Cub stop squad kept Loyola close in four of its six losses and was the key factor in each of its victories.
The Cubs notched wins against non-league foes Thousand Oaks, Dana Hills, Chaminade and St. Francis and played competitively in losses to long-time non-league archrival Hart, Compton Dominguez and Serra League rivals Notre Dame and Bishop Amat. The nadir of the ‘07 campaign was a 55-14 drubbing at the hands of the De La Salle Spartans (DLS finished undefeated and downed Corona Centennial in the State Div. I bowl game) in Concord. The long bus ride back from Northern California was one of the most painful return trips in Cub annals.
Loyola was led by team co-MVPs Matt Bertole and Mike Hernandez (Notre Dame). Hernandez was an All-Serra League offensive lineman. Bertole was a two-way anchor as a center and defensive tackle. An All-Serra League offensive tackle, Bertole also was Loyola’s Lineman-of-the-Year (Offense). He was a scholarship lineman at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Senior DE Jonathan Rossi (Harvard) was an All-Serra League first teamer and Loyola’s Lineman-of-the-Year (Defense).
Other All-Serra League honorees were seniors Marcus Gaxiola (first team linebacker, Loyola’s Most Valuable Defensive Player), Robert Kelley (second team OL, Loyola Cub Award) and Dustin Rosenberg (second team WR, Loyola’s Most Valuable Offensive Player).
Junior QB Stephen Rokus earned second team All-Serra League honors along with classmates Christian Laursen (WR, Loyola Back-of-the-Year) and Mauricio Alfonso (Kicker).
A group of talented seniors and a promising junior class were determined to lead the ‘08 Cubs back to the CIF Division I playoffs as they kicked off the fall campaign with convincing 23-7 and 34-0 victories over the Mustangs of Mira Costa (who would later play for the Western Div. CIF Championship) and the Sea Kings of Palos Verdes, respectively.
Few pundits gave the Cubs a chance in week three against the vaunted Spartans of Concord De La Salle, the nationally ranked, legendary powerhouse coached by iconic prep head mentor Bob Ladouceur. In what proved to be their finest showing of the season, before a near-capacity crowd at Glendale, the Cubs came within a whisker of upsetting the Spartans who returned a missed Loyola field goal attempt deep into Cub territory late in the fourth quarter to set up the winning TD in a 27-21 DLS victory.
The following week, the Big Blue was embarrassed 44-28 in Bellflower by long-time rival St. John Bosco, but the Cubs bounced back with a resounding rout of the atypically undermanned Hart Indians, 52-14. Junior RB Anthony Barr rushed for over 200 yards in the first half alone.
Loyola followed up the Hart triumph with an impressive non-league 42-21 blowout of St. Paul. The following week, Alemany pulled off a major upset at Glendale, shocking the Cubs 21-16 after recovering a free kick late in the game.
In the first Serra League game against Bishop Amat at Glendale, Loyola’s ‘Wolfpack’ played its finest defensive game of the year to help lead the Cubs to victory. Barr carried 40 times for 216 yards to highlight an old-fashioned Cubs vs. Lancer slugfest. The following week, the Notre Dame Knights demolished Loyola, 34-0. The loss was the nadir of the Cub campaign. In a must-win contest against Crespi, Loyola pulled out a 14-13 victory which put the Cubs in sole possession of second place in the Serra League and assured them of their first CIF playoff berth since 2005.
The Cubs drew perennial South Orange County power Mission Viejo in the first round of the Pac-5 playoffs. The Diablos put a 37-7 pasting on Loyola. The game was close until Mission Viejo exploded late in the third quarter.
Loyola finished the campaign 6-5. By any measure, the season proved disappointing but the Cubs had their moments – the best in three campaigns – only to fall victim to a perplexing case of inconsistency.
Junior phenom Anthony Barr finished the season with 1,890 yards rushing and 20 TDs. The first string All-Serra League RB was a Section Sports All-State underclass honoree and the Serra League’s Most Valuable Offensive Player. Seniors who earned first team All-Serra League honors were DB Reed Watne (Brown University, Loyola Co-Most Valuable Defensive Player), OL/DL Andrew Curtis (UCLA, Loyola Most Valuable Lineman), WR Brett Ackerman (Loyola Coaches’ Award) and LB Luke Napier (Loyola Co-Most Valuable Defensive Player). Junior DL Jordan Hanson was also named to the first-team All-Serra unit. Second-team All-Serra accolades were bestowed on senior safety Nick Llaca (Puget Sound, Loyola Most Valuable Back), senior DB Justyn Williams (Pennsylvania, Loyola MVP), senior QB Steven Rokus, senior OL Nolan Welsh, and senior kicker Mauricio Alfonso (Chapman University). Juniors who received second-team All-League notice were TE John Young, OT Colin Tanigawa and LB Bronson Green. Junior OLB Ned Kirby earned all-league honorable mention accolades.
High expectations were set for the Cubs entering the 2009 campaign. An opening game 28-18 victory over eventual CIF Western Division champion Mira Costa was a good start. Loyola, though, was dealt a major blow in week two on the road in south Orange County. Cub preseason All-American running back/ safety Anthony Barr broke his ankle late in the first half against South Coast League power Mission Viejo, an eventual CIF Pac-5 semifinalist. The loss of the dominating two-way exploits of the 6’ 4”, 230 lb. phenom could not be overcome.
A coaching change, in which Adam Guerra ‘03 took over the head coaching reins after game four, infused new life into the Cubs, but the team was unable to secure victory in a key game against Bishop Amat in the Serra League finale. Loyola out-gained the Lancers in total yardage by more than a two to one margin, but dropped the critical contest in overtime, 27-24, at the victors’ field. The Cubs came from behind in dramatic fashion to vanquish Crespi 41-37 in the season finale, but the close loss to long time archrival Amat cost the Big Blue a shot at the Pac-5 playoffs. The three best games played by Loyola were against non-league foe Chaminade (42-3), Bishop Amat in the overtime loss and the season finale against Crespi when junior quarterback Jerry Neuheisel completed a brilliant fourth down touchdown pass to senior receiver B.J. Fennessy with under a minute to play at East Los Angeles College. Other key injuries contributed to a disappointing 4-6 campaign that nonetheless ended on a high note.
The win-loss tally was certainly not indicative of the talent on board. Five seniors earned football scholarships to Division I universities, four to BCS schools: Barr (UCLA two-time Bruin All-American, winner of Lott Award, two-time All Pac- 12, ninth player chosen by Minnesota Vikings in 2014 NFL draft as a linebacker), All-Serra League WR/S Nat Bellamy (Loyola Most Valuable Back) (Colgate), second team All-Serra League DL Jordan Hanson (Loyola Samurai/Captain Award) (Nevada), All-CIF Pac-5/All-Serra League OL Colin Tanigawa (Loyola Most Valuable Lineman Award) (Washington, starter at OG) and second team All-Serra League TE John Young (UCLA). In addition, All- CIF/ All-Serra League/ Serra League Co-Defensive MVP, linebacker Bronson Green (Loyola MVP), played for Dartmouth of the Ivy League. Center Brendan Burton was an All-Serra League center. Second team All-Serra League outside linebacker Ned Kirby earned second team All-Serra League notice as did DB Chai Reece (Dartmouth) and DL Charles Walker (Loyola Defensive Excellence).
Junior running back Jared Baker was named the Serra League Offensive Co-MVP. Baker established himself as one of the best running backs in the state. He finished the season with 1,453 yards (7 yards per carry, 10 TDs). Junior QB Jerry Neuheisel (Loyola Offensive Excellence (UCLA)) earned second team All-Serra League accolades, finishing the season with 1,621 passing yards, a 62% completion percentage and 13 TD passes. Junior offensive tackle Jared Sanchez and junior receiver Darren Rosenberg also earned second team All-Serra league honors.
Veteran head mentor Mike Christensen took over the reins as Loyola’s varsity head man in the spring of 2010 and immediately began the task of reestablishing the culture of toughness and accountability that defined the program for most of the twentieth century and the first five seasons of the new millennium. Christensen’s first year record, 3-7, was not indicative of the strides the program made in his first campaign at the helm. The Cubs were shorthanded in the depth category, but they competed with the toughness and resolve of the Loyola teams of yore. There was no quit in the team that took the field in ’10.
Two standout victories against highly regarded Valencia, 39-24, and a solid Upland squad, 30-13, were the high points of a campaign in which redeveloping Blue Attitude took precedence.
A 42-7 loss to Pac-5 Division runner-up Mission Viejo in game two showed how far Loyola would need to go to return to elite status, but it did not dampen the fight demonstrated by a young team for the remainder of the season.
One of the all-time great players in Loyola grid history, senior Jared Baker was the centerpiece of the offense and Loyola’s Most Valuable Player. Quick, fast, powerful and elusive, Baker rushed for 1,152 yards (6.78 yards per carry and 12 TDs). For a second consecutive year, he was honored as the Serra League’s Most Valuable Offensive Player. Baker accepted a scholarship to play for the University of Arizona Wildcats.
Other seniors who earned honors were senior guard Scott Sanford (second team All-Serra League) and corner Lee Hightower (second team All-Serra League (Houston), who won the CIF first place medal in the long jump for Loyola’s ’11 four-peat CIF Div. II Champion Track & Field team and finished third in the state in the horizontal jump for Loyola’s state runner-up squad.
Juniors who garnered post-season accolades were first team All-Serra League receiver Kodi Whitfield (31 receptions, 440 yards, 5 TDs, 17.3 yards per punt return); linebacker Eamon McOsker, who was second team All-Serra League; fullback Robert Jenkins, who was second team All-Serra League and threw the shot put 55’ 10” for the CIF Champion Track & Field team; and kicker/punter Conrad Ukropina, who earned second team All-Serra League accolades as a punter.
Sophomore corner Cameron Walker was named Loyola’s Defensive Player-of-the-Year, the first time in Loyola history a sophomore has been so honored, and earned first team All-Serra League honors, while leading the team in tackles.
In 2011, a strong group of battle tested seniors led Loyola to its first eight-win regular season since 2004 and first CIF Pac-5 Division playoff berth since 2008.
While the Cubs (8-3) were upset by Sunset League second place finisher Huntington Beach, 31-21, in the first round of the playoffs, Loyola still finished the season ranked 27th in the state, nineteenth in the CIF Southern Section and tenth in the Pac-5 Division by CalPreps. Loyola competed with the discipline and intensity Christensen had been demanding, and the Big Blue’s efforts paid dividends with noteworthy nonleague wins over West Covina (13-1 and CIF Southeast Div. Champs), 35-7, Valencia, 28-10, and, at the time, state top-ten rated St. John Bosco 28-14. In the Serra League, the Cubs defeated Notre Dame 28-14, Bishop Amat 14-3 and Crespi 36-35 in an overtime thriller.
Senior quarterback Nicolas Cotton was perhaps the most unsung but important player for the Cubs. The converted wide receiver earned second team All-Serra League honors and led the offense with 1,381 passing yards at a 65% completion clip and threw for 13 TDs. The gifted athlete also added 187 rushing yards. Cotton displayed uncommon resolve and toughness after being foisted into the starting role in game seven of his junior year with no high school experience at the quarterback position. Loyola’s Most Valuable Player was senior wide receiver (413 receiving yards)/safety Eamon McOsker (Notre Dame). The first team All-Serra League safety hit like a linebacker (he was honored as the Serra League’s Defensive Player-of-the-Year). A key cog on a vastly improved defensive unit, McOsker was also a talented kick returner. Senior wide receiver Kodi Whitfield earned first team All-Serra League and All-CIF Pac-5 accolades with 515 receiving yards and seven TDs while doubling as a ball hawk at safety. His accomplishments earned him a scholarship to Stanford. Also earning first team All-Serra League notice were seniors Tim Patricia (inside linebacker (Middlebury College); wide receiver Chaz Anderson (scholarship to Boise State); punter Conrad Ukropina (Stanford), who set the single season Loyola punting record with a monstrous 43.6 average; nose guard Nick Mortl; and 6-5, 329 lb. offensive tackle Travis Harvey (Fresno State).
Senior second team All-Serra League honorees were Vernon Yancy (inside linebacker); Robert Jenkins (fullback), who accepted an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point; outside linebacker Keenan Stevenson; and center Eric Cuevas.
Junior corner Cameron Walker earned All-State Underclass honors for the second consecutive year. Junior running back Wyatt Bradford (891 yds., 6.36 yds. per carry, 11 TDs) was named to the Serra League first team honor squad, and junior tight end Jack Neuheisel was awarded second team All-Serra accolades.
The 2012 campaign opened with promise as the Cubs vanquished Harvard-Westlake and its prolific high speed passing attack by a 42-27 score in the schools’ first meeting since 1937. In week two Loyola pummeled West Covina 38-14 for a second consecutive year and then routed Newport Harbor 42-7 in Newport Beach to set up a much anticipated tilt with St. John Bosco in Bellflower. The undefeated Cubs seemingly were sleep walking as the Braves’ manhandled them, 45-0, in the worst defeat ever suffered by a Loyola team. The ignominious loss became a forfeit win as Bosco competed with an ineligible player. But the repercussions of that on-the-field loss haunted the Cubs for the remainder of the campaign.
Loyola rebounded the following week with a decisive 35-14 win over Mira Costa in Manhattan Beach, and then put forth a solid defensive effort in a 28-14 road triumph over Valencia. The Cubs played hard in a 20-7 road loss to Crespi in the Serra league opener, but were undone by five costly turnovers. Notre Dame outplayed Loyola in Sherman Oaks en route to a 28-10 victory. The Cubs were outpaced by Bishop Amat in a 30-20 home loss and were torched by Alemany 45-17 in the Serra League finale. There were some high points during the season, but key injuries and the aftereffects of the Bosco disaster conspired in making the season one of disappointment.
Three-year varsity starter Cameron Walker, who excelled both at running back and corner, was the Cubs’ Most Valuable Player. He started in the secondary for Cal as a true freshman. Wyatt Bradford (St. John’s Univ. (Mn.)) was an excellent running back who earned All-Serra League first team honors and was named Loyola’s Offensive Player-of-the Year. Junior linebacker Reuben Peters was the Cub Defensive Player-of-the-Year and earned first team All-Serra accolades. Junior John Turner was named Loyola’s Lineman-of-the-Year and received second team All-Serra League notice. Tailback Nico Evans, who ran the second leg on Loyola’s CIF Div. II champion 4 X 100 relay team, had a great varsity debut season. Senior offensive guard Kevin Mendoza was a second team All-Serra League honoree. The Most Inspirational Award went to senior linebacker Henry Castillo, who is now playing at Middlebury College along with Cub teammate, starting wide receiver Grant Luna. Two-way tackle Coleman Shelton earned second team All-Serra League honors and won Loyola’s Code of the Warrior Award and accepted a scholarship to the University of Washington.
Cub quarterback Patrick Finnegan is playing at Georgetown University, starting linebacker Justin Cruz is competing at Kenyon College and tight end Jack Neuheisel was on the team at Southern Methodist. Safety Jordan Ferguson is now playing at Brown of the Ivy League.
Former University of Nebraska defensive coordinator Marvin Sanders took over the reins of Cub Football in 2013. While his first year head coaching record (4-6) did not reflect it, there were obvious strides made in Sanders’ inaugural campaign at the helm. The improvement was most noticeable on the defensive side of the ball. As a 20-year veteran of coaching the secondary at the collegiate level, Sanders’ defensive backfield was among the strongest groups on the squad.
The Cubs were upset in their season opener by Harvard-Westlake, a setback that shocked many in prep football circles, but the Cubs regrouped in week two taking out Lakewood, 38-6. Loyola nearly defeated L. A. City Section champion Crenshaw the following week before falling to the Cougars in double overtime. While a 24-10 non-league loss to CIF Southern Section Division I champion and State Open Division Bowl titlist St. John Bosco (16-0) was a disappointment, the Cubs gave the Braves a real scare. The 14-point win was St. John Bosco’s smallest margin of victory over the course of its undefeated season, except for the Braves’ 20-14 bowl win over perennial state power Concord De La Salle.
By far, Loyola’s best-played game of the campaign was its Serra League victory over league champion Alemany on the road. The 31-20 win over the Warriors, who advanced to the Pac-5 semifinals, was a well-executed gem. But the Cubs faltered down the stretch, and were unable to pull out some fiercely contested Serra League battles. Seven sophomores either started or played considerable minutes, which allowed them to gain valuable experience and appreciation for the intensity with which CIF Pac-5 grid wars are fought.
The Loyola team MVP was offensive left tackle Chris Brown (USC), who was also named to the CalHi Sports All-State and All-CIF Pac-5 teams. A three-year starter, Brown was also named the Serra League’s Most Valuable Lineman. He was one of the most highly recruited Loyola linemen ever. Running back Nico Evans (Wyoming) was a force carrying the pigskin. The All-CIF Pac-5 back gained over 1,600 yards, earning him the Serra League Most Valuable Offensive Player honor. Evans has to be included on the list of Loyola’s all-time best running backs. Offensive tackle John Turner (Washington), who also was a stalwart on the Cub D-line, was named to the All-Serra league first team. Linebacker Reuben Peters (USC) and junior defensive end Christian Rector also garnered first team all-league accolades.
Junior running back David Cooper, who doubled as an outside linebacker, was named to the All-Serra League second team along with receiver Adam Pilapil (Wyoming), who also shined at safety. Senior defensive end Payton Lowry-Sanders and corner Joe Harding (USC) were tabbed All-Serra league second team. Sophomore receiver/corner Myles Bryant was named to the CalHi Sports All-Sophomore squad.
The 2014 campaign was a tale of two seasons. The Cubs ran roughshod over their nonleague foes by the combined score of 163-53 (avg. score 41-13), but the faring in the newly formed seven-team Mission League proved tough sledding as Loyola went winless in its inaugural campaign in what for all intents and purposes is a super league, perhaps rivaled in California, if not the nation, only by the Trinity League. In all fairness to the nonleague slate, save for CIF San Diego Section Division I champion St. Augustine whom the Cubs dispatched 42-35 in the first on-campus home game in 65 years, Harvard-Westlake, Lakewood and Salesian were not the beasts that the Mission League put on the gridiron in the final six weeks.
Loyola opened the Mission League campaign on the road in West Hills against Chaminade, and the 24-7 setback at the hands of the Eagles was much closer than the final score, but it did serve as a portent of what turned out to be a not uncommon pattern of close games turning into sizable losses late in games. The Cubs were playing stride for stride with Crespi, Alemany and Notre Dame, before fourth quarter let downs. The loss to Alemany was the closest, 24-23. Injuries began mounting in the season’s final four games, and against a slate the caliber of the Mission league a lack of depth proved costly for Loyola. Junior signal caller Sean O’Malley started the final four games behind center and passed for over 900 yards and six touchdowns, sparking optimism for the 2015 campaign. In the Cubs’56-31 loss to Serra in the final conference contest, O’Malley threw for 371 yards.
The team MVP was senior running back and starting linebacker David Cooper, who accepted a scholarship to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Cooper rushed for 659 yards, averaging 8.2 yards per carry, and scored six touchdowns. He was third on the team in total tackles. He was also recognized as a Scholar Athlete by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. Loyola’s defensive MVP was 6-4, 245 lb. defensive end Christian Rector, who accepted a football scholarship to USC after earning All-Mission League first team honors.
Junior wide receiver Jordan Riordan was named the Cubs’ Offensive MVP and earned second team All-Mission league notice. Riordan led the team with 464 receiving yards and was also a hard hitting safety. Junior Myles Bryant was an All-Mission League second team honoree as an athlete and also earned CalHi Sports All- State Underclass honors. Bryant returned punts and kicks, carried the ball out of the backfield and was a shutdown defensive back. Junior corner David Long also earned second team all-league accolades as well as All-State Underclass notice. He was the team’s second leading receiver. Senior corner Jason Baker was accorded second team All-Mission League recognition and was a National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete. He signed on to play football for UCLA. Sophomore inside linebacker D. Winston Anawalt was named the squad’s Rookie of the Year after leading the stop unit in tackles. Senior Daniel Pedroarais was named the team’s Most Inspirational player.
A 4-6 season record does not tell the story of how hard the ‘14 squad played. With multiple returning starters back this fall, the Cubs are looking to keep the pedal to the metal in hopes of turning the tables in Mission League competition.