If the passing game was supposed to be the weak link and quarterback Jason Evans ends up completing 8 straight attempts to open the game and 11 of 14 for 102 yards and a touchdown overall, what does that say for the L.A. Loyola High School football team as a whole?
Plenty, to be sure. But, more importantly for the Cubs as they head into the Del Rey League season, it means they are improving every week, with Friday night's performance a prime example. They couldn't have had much better timing.
The team that opened the season with an all-new-and-injured backfield and was sluggish, at best, in winning its first two games, put it all together to beat No.7 Antelope Valley of Lancaster, 13-10, in a nonleague showdown on the road and reaffirm its No. 6 spot in The Times' Southern Section rankings.
The offense did all its damage, point-wise, in the first half and then did in Antelope Valley (4-1) over the final two periods, clock wise. The Cubs (5-0) may not have scored, but they had several long drives to take chunks of time off the clock. And the way their Josh Price-led defense was playing, that was good enough.
Any question about the competence of Evans, the junior quarterback who missed the first game of the season with tendinitis and had completed 40% of his passes for an average of only 80 yards in the three outings since, were dismissed in the first two quarters. Meanwhile, the Cub defense, hardly a mystery, was typically tough.
In a first half when Loyola took a 13-3 lead, both proved their worth.
The defense got things started when, with 5:20 to play in the opening quarter, defensive back Paul Baker intercepted Ron Whipple's pass and returned it 25 yards untouched down the sideline for a touchdown.
Then, on the Cubs' first drive of the second half, it was Evans' turn, as he fired a pass through double coverage in the end zone to David Estwick for a 13-0 lead. That was consecutive completion No. 5 for Evans, and he hit three more before throwing his only interception.
Even when Antelope Valley did score to make it 13-3 at halftime, there was still a moral victory for Loyola. The Antelopes, No. 1 in the Coastal Conference and coming off a 31-0 thrashing of then-No. 2 Pasadena Muir, took over after a punt on the Cub 46 and within three plays had a first down at the 13. But they got little more and settled for a 28-yard field goal by Chris Yergensen with 1:49 remaining.
They broke through Loyola's defense just once, when running back Tommie Smith headed up the middle, broke several tackles and cut to the outside for a 49-yard touchdown with 7:13 left in the third quarter to make it a three-point game.