Injuries don’t slow Sherman Oaks Notre Dame in win over L.A. Loyola

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame running back Santiago Weschler tries to sprint past a Loyola defender during Friday's game.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame running back Santiago Weschler tries to sprint past a Loyola defender during the third quarter of Friday’s game.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

One Sherman Oaks Notre Dame football player stood on the sideline supported by crutches. Another had his arm in a sling. Even defensive coordinator Joe McNab hasn’t escaped injury this season. He has to have surgery for a torn ACL suffered during practice.

“Somebody rolled into it,” McNab said.

It’s been that kind of a season for the Knights, who have lost six starters to season-ending injuries, including their starting quarterback, starting running back and two receivers. And yet, Notre Dame keeps finding replacements, as was the case on Friday night in a 29-23 Mission League victory over a feisty Los Angeles Loyola.

“Kids stepped up and got it done,” Notre Dame coach Kevin Rooney said.

The Knights (6-2, 2-1) received field goals of 32, 30 and 39 yards from newly promoted sophomore kicker Zachary May. Guess what happened to the previous kicker? Knee injury.


Sophomore quarterback Zachary Siskowic completed 15 of 20 passes for 170 yards and one touchdown and also scored a touchdown. He had no interceptions and threw a clutch six-yard completion to Evan McLurkin to secure a first down late in the fourth quarter.

The Knights did a great job with fundamental tackling. In back-to-back plays, defensive end Jeromiah Garmon recorded a sack and Sean Guyton broke up a screen pass in one-on-one duels. If they had missed the tackles, the plays could have gone for big gains.

Loyola (3-4, 1-1) showed it is making steady progress under first-year coach Drew Casani. The Cubs thought they might have a chance to rally for victory, but a Justin Horton interception with 19.9 seconds remaining clinched Notre Dame’s win.

Sophomore receiver Jacoby Kelly made a one-handed catch before running 33 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter for Loyola. He also had a leaping 31-yard touchdown catch in the end zone. Junior quarterback Brayden Zermeno completed his first 10 passes and finished 20 of 33 for 200 yards.

It was only three weeks ago when Notre Dame gave Anaheim Servite a scare while dropping a 16-13 game. If only the Knights can get healthy. Standout linebacker Jacob Moore missed a 35-14 loss to West Hills Chaminade and is back even though he’s banged up.

“It’s the game we all love,” he said. “You have to keep going.”

The first half saw Notre Dame cling to a 23-16 halftime lead. Loyola received field goals of 39, 32 and 46 yards from Diego Burgos. Siskowic had a 15-yard touchdown pass to Mason Cotton and a one-yard TD run.

Loyola had its scheduled league game against Mission Hills Alemany last week canceled because of the brush fire in the San Fernando Valley. The two schools couldn’t agree on a makeup date, and now league principals will meet on Saturday to decide how to deal with two schools having one fewer game for the league standings.

All six Mission League teams are expected to make the postseason. Four are guaranteed spots in the Division 1/2 playoffs. The Southern Section announced Friday that a point system will be used to select the eight teams for Division 1, with the coaches’ poll resulting in a maximum 10 points for being No. 1. Teams also get one point for each win over a Division 1/2 opponent and one point for winning a league title.

The eight leading teams are Santa Ana Mater Dei, Bellflower St. John Bosco, Corona Centennial, Mission Viejo, Anaheim Servite, San Juan Capistrano JSerra, Calabasas and La Puente Bishop Amat.