Back on gridiron: Football advances to 4-1

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Senior Tahj Owens runs the ball in Loyola’s 34 to 6 win against Cathedral. Owens finished with 159 rushing yards and two touchdowns on Friday.

“Loyola’s bleachers will likely be empty and silent this year. 2020 has been a year of firsts due to the ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought uncertainty as to whether or not fans will be permitted at home games this season.”

Taken from the November 26, 2020 edition of The Loyalist, this quote reflects the change that has occured in nearly a year since that article was written. Fans fill the stands once again to cheer on their Cubs during Friday night lights. Fans are not the only ones overjoyed to be cheering on the football team this season, but the players are also excited to have their Loyola community supporting them on Friday nights.

Junior outside linebacker Colin Devereaux says, “Playing in front of a crowd for the first time is awesome, but very nerve racking for the first couple of plays until you get settled in.”

The team was faced with several obstacles to overcome during the beginning of the season. The shift from the shortened season last year to the regular football schedule this year forced players to adapt to be successful this season. 

Senior offensive lineman Sam Yoon comments, “From my perspective the biggest challenge has been readjusting to the commitment and rigor of the football schedule during the normal school year. The team is spending much more time on campus than last year which can be tiring mentally and physically.” 

Furthermore, the Cubs were hit with injuries to key players to start the season. Junior quarterback Xavier Rice and Junior cornerback Jordan Hewitt have both suffered injuries. However, the team was able to rally together to pull through and be successful despite the loss of several key players. 

Junior offensive lineman Jack Paris says, “Well we have had some injuries to some of our key players, and them being out has hurt us but we have been able to get around that as you saw in the Culver City game.” 

The Cubs are off to a solid start this season with a monstrous 62-21 victory over Culver City for their 2nd win of the season. The cubs also tied a school record with their 62 points which matches a school record set in 1924 in a 62-0 win over Pacific Military Academy. The scoring was led by Senior running back Tahj Owens with 5 rushing touchdowns and Senior quarterback Joe Tatum with 3 passing touchdowns. The Cubs also received a visit from Todd Gurley II pre-game who said some encouraging words to the team that motivated them for their game later that day. 

When asked about the game against Culver City, senior running back Tahj Owens answered, “I felt really good about how the team performed overall. I think it was the best game we have played so far this year. It brought some more excitement being able to play in front of a crowd and a student section again.”

After losing their past two games against Cathedral in the 2018 and 2019 football season, Loyola finally got its revenge. 

The student section was packed with freshmen and their senior Big Brothers as the Cubs made the Cathedral Phantoms look more like Casper the Ghost in a dominant 34-6 victory. 

Owens had another phenomenal performance, and his 159 rushing yards, reaching the endzone twice. Late in the first half, Carter Ferguson ‘22 returned a blocked punt, giving the Cubs an extra boost. Late in the fourth quarter, Wilke Wiles ‘23 sent the Phantoms home with a 69 yard reception to the house

Senior Nick Kozhaya remembers, “When I attended the ‘Take Your Little Brother to the Game’ my freshman year, we got destroyed. This victory was a sweet bit of revenge. I’m glad my litter brothers got to experience the energy of a Loyola win.”

When asked on how to continue their success, Yoon commented, “A short term memory will be essential to a successful team. By not resting on past victories, the team will be able to focus more fully on future opponents.”

The Cubs beat Mira Mesa on Friday, Sep. 18, 42-20.

The team wishes to continue their momentum from being last year’s Angelus League Champions. Their goals don’t stop at just winning the league championship, but they hope to advance and bring a CIF title back to the school.

Yoon concludes, “The team’s goals this year are the same as they are every year. We’re constantly working toward a league title, a CIF title and a state championship.”

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