LOYOLA vs. MAINE SOUTH, 7 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign
LAST WEEK: Loyola beat Glenbard West 42-13 on the road. Maine South beat Palatine 28-14 at home.
RAMBLERS TO WATCH: Jack Badovinac, sr., LG; Jake Gonzalez, so., DB; Tommy Herion, sr., QB; Mickey Kane, sr., LB; Ryan Lin-Peistrup, sr., DB; Jack Martinus, sr., WR; Jake Marwede, sr., WR; Omar Mendez, sr., DL; Kyle Rock, sr., RB (pictured above); Graham Repp, sr., LB; Anthony Rodriguez, jr., LB; Anthony Romano, sr., LB; Ian Swenson, sr., DB; David Terrell Jr., sr., WR
HAWKS TO WATCH: Luke Hinkamp, sr. WR; Matt Holbrook, sr., WR; Kevin Jarvis, sr., OL/DL; Nick Leongas, sr., QB; Fotis Kokosioulos, jr., RB; Sean McNulty, sr., OL/LB/K; Jack Pistorius, sr., LB; Michael Pusateri, sr., LB; Cam Stacey, jr., WR
RAMBLERS NOTES: This is the second meeting this season between the two area powerhouse programs. Loyola beat Maine South 44-43 in Week 2. The Hawks scored with 52.1 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, but their two-point pass was batted away by Loyola senior linebacker Anthony Romano. … This is the ninth game in a series that dates back to 1975. The Ramblers own a 5-3 edge, but the two teams each have three wins apiece in the postseason. The last playoff game between the two was in 2013, with Loyola earning a 35-0 win in the Class 8A quarterfinals. They have never met in a state title game. … The top-seeded Ramblers, winners of 30 in a row, have played at another level during the postseason, highlighted by last week’s win against defending Class 7A state champion Glenbard West in Glen Ellyn. They are averaging 32.5 points a game in the playoffs and allowing 7.5 a game. For the season, those numbers are 40.6 and 14.2, respectively. … Loyola’s offensive line and defensive front seven have been at their best in the postseason. The Ramblers have controlled the ball in their last three games. The offense was on the field for 27 minutes, 8 seconds against Oswego East, 30:10 against Huntley and 29:36 against Glenbard West. Loyola held the ball for 26 seconds fewer than O’Fallon in the first round. Defensively, the Ramblers have forced nine turnovers in four games and have held the opposing team’s best player in check. Oswego East senior running back and Iowa commit Ivory Kelly-Martin ran 11 times for 31 yards and didn’t score. Eric Mooney, Huntley’s talented dual-threat junior quarterback, was sacked 10 times and unable to get the Red Raiders into the end zone. Glenbard West senior quarterback Cole Brady and his offense couldn’t come up with plays when it mattered in the second half. … Senior Jake Marwede, who was named Class 8A all-state team by the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association, made his season debut in Week 2 against Maine South. On the game’s first offensive play, he took a handoff and threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver David Terrell Jr. He finished with seven catches for 129 yards and two TDs. Marwede, a Duke recruit, has scored 20 TDs this season, 14 as a quarterback from the Wildcat formation. … This game is special for Romano, who grew up in Park Ridge. His brother, Alex Romano, won two Class 8A state titles with the Hawks as a receiver. Anthony comes into the game with a team-best 103 tackles, five sacks and one interception.
HAWKS NOTES: Maine South is back in a state championship game for first time since 2010 when it concluded its run of three consecutive Class 8A state titles. The 26th-seeded Hawks earned their trip to Champaign by beating West Aurora, Barrington, Lincoln-Way East and Palatine. Every game was decided by 15 points or less, including two by three points or less. … Maine South enters the state final on a six-game winning streak, the last loss coming to New Trier in Week 7. The 27-21 defeat at home was the Hawks’ first loss in the Central Suburban League South since 2000. But some of the players talked about how that loss, however upsetting, fueled the team’s postseason run. “I told the team there was only one way to get rid of this cloud over our heads, and that was to win a state championship,” senior linebacker Michael Pusateri told Pioneer Press following the win over Palatine. “We’re on pace to do that right now.” … It’s no surprise that Maine South got here with a high-powered offense. The Hawks — anchored on the line by 6-foot-5, 340-pound senior and Michigan State recruit Kevin Jarvis — are averaging 39.3 points and 443.5 yards a game. It starts with senior Nick Leongas, a dual-threat quarterback. He’s passed for 2,747 yards and 27 TDs and run for 1,040 yards and 11 TDs. His top three targets are senior Matt Holbrook (43 receptions, 750 yards, 7 TDs), senior Luke Hinkamp (25 receptions, 611 yards, 7 TDs) and junior Cam Stacey (35 receptions, 606 yards, 5 TDs). Despite his 5-8, 160-pound frame, junior running back Fotis Kokosioulos is a productive offensive player. He’s rushed for 1,358 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per carry, and scored 25 total TDs. “They have offensive skills as good as anyone you will see,” Loyola head coach Holecek said. “[Kokosioulos] is fast, and [Leongas] makes great decisions and is a great athlete. That offense really gave us fits, and we couldn’t get off the field on third downs. We won’t have as many mental mistakes as we did the first time.” Senior kicker Sean McNulty is another offensive asset. He’s 12-for-16 on field goals, with a long of 40 yards. … On defense, the Hawks lean on Pusateri, who’s recorded 140 tackles and 11 tackles for loss from his position at middle linebacker. While Jarvis will play offense in college, the Hawks have used him on the defensive line to great success. His size shuts down running lanes in the middle.
Photo credit: Geoff Scott