Loyola High football Coach Steve Grady knows he has one of the finest programs in the Southland, but that knowledge hasn't been enough, come championship time.
In 15 seasons at Loyola, Grady's record of 131-38-4 (77.1%) is one of the state's best among active coaches. Under Grady, the Cubs have won nine league titles and qualified for the playoffs 14 times. They have advanced to the semifinal round four times, losing three.
That losing streak was snapped Saturday night when Loyola defeated Canyon Country Canyon, 10-3, in a Southern Section Division I semifinal at College of the Canyons. The Cubs (11-2) will play Quartz Hill, also 11-2, for the championship at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Anaheim Stadium.
Monday at a Southern Section football press luncheon in Buena Park, Grady and longtime assistant Jon Dawson said the title-game wait has been frustrating.
"It's been very disappointing at times," Grady said. "We've had a lot of teams here that I thought were good enough to win it all and then they didn't. But you learn to put it behind you and move on. You have to do that if you're going to continue to coach."
Loyola, in its first season in the tough Angelus League, had to take a back seat to La Puente Bishop Amat and Santa Ana Mater Dei.
Even though Loyola had a winning regular-season record, it was not given much respect heading into the playoffs because of road losses to Mater Dei and Bishop Amat.
The Cubs have excelled in the playoffs, however, and its two Angelus League rivals have faltered.
Loyola's last title game appearance was in 1975, a year before Grady became head coach. The Cubs defeated St. Paul, 14-13, to win the championship.
In Lompoc's 28-14 victory over previously unbeaten San Marino in the Southern Section Division VII playoffs, Lompoc's Napolean Kaufman was too much for the Titans.
Kaufman rushed for a career-high 254 yards in 22 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 69 and 70 yards.
In the final, Lompoc (12-1) will meet Arroyo Grande (11-1) in a rematch between Northern League rivals. Lompoc won during the regular season, 35-28.
"I'm glad it's a rematch," Lompoc Coach Dick Barrett said. "It just shows how strong the play is in the Northern League."
In the City 4-A Division playoffs, Dorsey--the defending champion--will play Wilmington Banning in a semifinal game at Gardena High Friday. The Dons lost to Banning during the regular season, 20-10, but Dorsey will be a different team for the rematch.
Its biggest change is the position switch of Lamont Warren, last season's 4-A Division player of the year, from tailback to quarterback. Warren, who is still being recruited by colleges as a running back, became the Dons' quarterback two games ago when starter Ronald Peebles injured his thumb against Carson.
In his new position, Warren has shown his talents by passing for 313 yards and four touchdowns in two Dorsey victories. In the Dons' 21-7 victory over San Fernando last Friday, Warren passed for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
"If (Warren) had played quarterback all along, I'm confident that he'd be a Division I prospect," Dorsey Co-Coach Paul Knox said. "We are confident with him at quarterback, and we are now running our offense to his strengths. The best thing is that he gets to touch the ball on every play."
Despite the return of Peebles, who played special teams last Friday, Knox says that Warren will remain at quarterback. Prep Notes
Fairfax High has had to move its home City 3-A Division football playoff games because it does not have lights, but its alternative site, Venice High, has been kind to the Lions. In the three games Fairfax has played at Venice this season, the Lions are unbeaten. . . . Louie Quintana of Arroyo Grande is the leading contender for the boys' national title in the 12th annual Kinney cross-country meet Saturday at Balboa Park in San Diego. Quintana, undefeated this fall, won the Western regional final last Saturday with a time of 14:49. He will face strong competition from Bryan Spoonire of Asbury Park, N.J., who won the Eastern regional, and Ricky Gallegos of Chrystal City, Tex., who won the Southern regional. . . . Melody Fairchild of Boulder, Co., is a favorite to repeat as the girls' champion, after winning the Midwestern regional by 1 minute 18 seconds.