On Saturday, Nov. 30, following an exciting playoff run, Loyola faced off against San Juan Hills in the Division IV CIF Southern Section Football Championship. 2019 marked the first time that the Cubs made the finals since 2005, a time where you had to buy music, iPhones didn’t exist and the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals were both in the NFL playoffs.
Unfortunately, the Cubs had a difficult time against the San Juan Hills Stallions, falling 21-15 to cap off Loyola’s second-place run. Nonetheless, finishing as the runner-up in the CIF Finals is an impressive accomplishment for Loyola, who were the 14-seed heading into the playoffs.
The atmosphere of Saturday’s game was by far the liveliest of any Loyola home game in recent memory. Tickets were no longer available for purchase from the Loyola website by Wednesday, so many clever Loyola fans purchased tickets from the San Juan Hills website in order to attend the game, and the Cubs and Stallions eventually faced off in front of a sell-out crowd. Despite the constant drizzle and the 53-degree weather, Loyola was still packed with fans rooting for the Cubs. The Loyola fan section was teeming with alumni, many of whom sported letterman jackets from their football-playing days at Loyola. These alumni were drawn back to the CIF finals game to relive their own Loyola experiences and reconnect with former Cub brothers.
One such alum was Vinnie Girardi '07, who said, “Every time I come to a game, I run into at least five or six of my classmates or teammates.” Jordan McMillan ’18 expressed similar sentiments. McMillan said, “I had to come to this. All my buddies are here, it’s Thanksgiving weekend, everyone is home… this is what we care about.” McMillan, a fairly recent Loyola graduate, currently plays Division I college football for the USC Trojans as a safety.
Many of the alumni were drawn to the game to see coach Drew Casani, who Andrew Altman ’99 described as “a legend in Loyola football lore.” Shane Joseph ’98, a friend and former teammate of Altman’s, said, “Drew Casani played an instrumental role in my progression as a player and a student athlete.”
Despite a tough loss at the hands of San Juan Hills, Saturday night was nonetheless a vibrant and exciting night for many alumni to reconnect with former friends and many students to have a good time supporting their team. The Cubs put up their best fight, and although they lost in the final game, the Loyola community is extremely proud of all of the team’s accomplishments this season.