Loyola primed for another run (+ Ramblers team page)
Loyola Academy's Darby Goodwin (50) reacts after tackling St. Rita quarterback John Kelley during their football game in Chicago on Friday. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 26, 2012 6:25AM
CHICAGO — A year after coming one game short of a state championship, the Loyola football team knows better than to look past its Class 8A first-round opponent, Evanston.
The Wildkits’ 5-4 record does not seem intimidating, but all four of those losses came against playoff-bound teams, including close defeats to 8A favorite Maine South (9-0) and Glenbrook North (8-1).
“If (Evanston) doesn’t turn the ball over they can be a very dangerous team,” Loyola coach John Holecek said. “They are talented and have a good coaching staff. The have good overall team speed and can score at any time.
“We played them twice last year and shut them out both times but we don’t expect as easy of a time this year.”
The Ramblers (8-1) haven’t forgotten last season’s 21-17 state title game loss to Bolingbrook. It has motivated Holecek’s young team since the start of practice and will carry over to the start of the playoffs this weekend.
“We don’t want that feeling again,” Holecek said of the loss. “All I remember it was rainy and slippery that day and we didn’t have the right shoes.”
Following a Week 2 loss to Dallas Jesuit, the Ramblers have rarely been troubled except for a 3-point overtime win against Mount Carmel.
During Friday’s 28-7 win over St. Rita that eliminated the Mustangs from playoff contention, the Ramblers relied heavily on their passing game.
“We go with what we think will work and what the defense gives us,” Holecek said. “We don’t decide prematurely on passing or running.”
A consistent passing attack will open up the running game, as it has for the Ramblers for much of the season. Quarterback Peter Pujals has put up a solid regular season, passing for over 1,600 yards, rushing for 500 more — including 25 total touchdowns. Junior running back Julius Holley (496 yards, 11 TDs) has picked up the slack for injured senior Ryan Ribordy.
“I believe our offense is the most complex in the state and we feel we can’t be stopped,” Loyola wide receiver Kris Coker said. “We have an amazing passing and running game.
Evanston, though, has seen its share of talented offenses this season.
“Loyola is obviously a very solid football team, not many weaknesses,” Evanston coach Mike Burzawa said. “We can only control our attitude and preparation going into Saturday.”
Names in the Game
Noteworthy efforts: The senior cross country runner clocked a time of 20 minutes, 14 seconds, to finish 39th on Saturday at the regional race at Harms Woods. Durso wasn’t one of the five runners to count toward Loyola’s fourth-place team score, but she will get to run at least one more time in her career this weekend at the Niles West Sectional.
Noteworthy efforts: In her final prep season, the senior finished 2-2 at the state tournament in singles. She opened with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Hononegah’s Tia Norris and also beat Teutopolis’ Elena Breer 6-0, 6-0 in the second round of the consolation bracket before bowing out. Loyola’s doubles team of senior Jennie Gault and junior Nora Hughes also went 2-2 at state last weekend.
31 | Seconds it took for the Ramblers boys soccer team to fall behind against Maine South in the regional final Friday. Loyola ended its season with a 4-0 loss to the Hawks in Park Ridge.
“We have been getting in some really great practices, and we are ready to cash everything in Saturday.”
— Loyola senior runner Chris Kelly talking about the team’s preparedness going into Saturday’s sectional race at Niles West.
Cross country: Loyola at Niles West Sectional, 1:30 p.m. girls, 2:30 p.m. boys
Sarah Kelley looks to build on her ninth-place finish (18 minutes, 47 seconds) at Saturday’s regional race at Harms Woods and qualify for the state meet for the first time. Meanwhile, the boys are hoping to run together as a team again. Only 26 seconds separated all seven Loyola runners Saturday.
Girls swimming: Loyola at MCAC meet at Fenwick, 10 a.m.
Seniors Evan Swenson and Maddie Jardeleza lead Loyola into the conference meet. The Ramblers then have two weeks off before getting back into the pool for the Nov. 10 sectional meet at Glenbrook South.
Culture Grid: Colleen Mahoney
Mahoney is a senior field hockey player in her third season on the team. The Ramblers opened the playoffs with a 2-0 win over Lakes on Oct. 18. The state semifinals are Friday, with the championship Saturday at noon at Lake Forest.
What is your favorite TV show? “ ‘Criminal Minds.’ I like that they are finding murderers and serial killers.”
What kind of music do you listen to a lot? “Country. I like Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney.”
What is your favorite class? “Psychology. I like learning about different mental illnesses and how the brain works. It’s something I want to study in college.”
Where’s some place you like to eat around town? “Wildfire. I like their house salad.”