LAST WEEK: The Wolves beat Curie 56-14 at home in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jaylon Banks, sr., QB, Stephon Harris, sr., WR, Elijah James, sr., DL, Ivory Kelly-Martin, sr., RB, Colin O’Reilly, sr., TE
OSWEGO EAST NOTES: After O’Fallon put a Halloween-like scare in to the top-seeded Ramblers (10-0) last week, the 16th-seeded Wolves (9-1) have Loyola’s full attention. Senior linebacker Anthony Romano said Oswego East’s collection of athletes rank among the best he’s seen this season. “We’ve played teams with a lot of playmakers, and they seem to have one at every position,” he said. “We have to shore up our tackling and make sure everybody does their job. But we have confidence in ourselves. As long as we do our jobs and follow the game plan, we can win the game.” … After losing a Southwestern Prairie game to rival and undefeated Oswego 21-3 in Week 6, the Wolves come into Saturday’s matchup on a four-game winning streak in which they have averaged scoring 51 points a game. Their closest game during the stretch is a 60-28 win over Minooka. … Oswego East head coach Tyson LeBlanc said his offense has been balanced between passing and throwing all season, scoring 31 touchdowns on the ground and 24 through the air. The Wolves are led by quarterback Jaylon Banks, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior. In the win over Curie, Banks finished 9-for-9 for 221 yards and threw four touchdown passes, according to the Aurora Beacon-News. Senior Stephon Harris, a 6-5, 230-pound receiver, caught two TDs. “He’s like [Loyola receiver] Jake Marwede,” Loyola head coach John Holecek said of Harris, who also plays basketball for the school. “He boxes out defenders.” But the offensive star is running back Ivory Kelly-Martin. The 5-11, 195-pound senior and University of Iowa commit is in his first season with Oswego East after transferring from Nazareth, where he helped the Roadrunners win two state championships. Holecek said Loyola’s defense will be challenged. “They run multiple formations and have talented players on offense,” he said. “They can do a ton of different things, and they spread the ball around like Brother Rice. It’s going to be a huge test for our guys up front. We are going to have to tackle well.” … Elijah James, a 6-4, 270-pound lineman, anchors an Oswego East defense that has surrendered an average of 13.3 points a game and has allowed only two teams to score 20 or more points. “It’s a 3-4 with an aggressive blitzing scheme,” Holecek said. “They have a lot of guys coming from all angles. We have to lock on their receivers. We have to be patient and smart.” … In his fifth year, LeBlanc has Oswego East in the playoffs for a second consecutive season — and third overall — in the program’s 12-year history. Prior to LeBlanc, the Wolves won 14 games in seven seasons. Oswego East’s nine wins this year are a program record.
LOYOLA NOTES: The Ramblers have made the playoffs for 14 consecutive seasons, which is two more years than Oswego East has been playing the game. Loyola is in its 108th season of football. … The Ramblers’ 42-14 victory over O’Fallon was their 27th win in a row. … Loyola has won at least 10 games in nine consecutive seasons. .. The Ramblers are scoring an average of 44.0 points a game. Through 10 games a year ago, they averaged 41.0 a game. Of course, last year’s team surrendered an average of 7.3 points a game at this point, while this season’s team has given up 16.8 a game. … Like every other coach who is about to play the Ramblers, LeBlanc talked about how well-prepared Loyola is for every game. “Any time you make mistakes they will capitalize,” he said. “Offensively, they have a lot of weapons, and defensively they are very physical.”