Senior Jack Walker (No. 5 in picture above) has been a defensive back at Loyola since his freshman year. The coaches have said they like that he can play both safety positions. In Loyola’s win over previously undefeated Fenwick, Walker said he had his most complete game of the season. Loyola head coach John Holecek said the Friars were the best offense the Ramblers have seen so far this year.
Maroon & Gold: Your brother Bobby Walker was a junior tight end on the 2013 Loyola team that finished second to Naperville Central in Class 8A. You were a junior on varsity last season when the Ramblers beat Marist for the Class 8A state title. The pressing question is: Where do you keep your championship ring?
Jack Walker: I keep it on the shelf of my desk in my room. It’s something I see every day when I walk into my room or when I do homework. Now that I’ve had that feeling, it’s something I want to experience again, especially as a senior. I think it will mean even more to me this year.
M&G: Bobby is a redshirt freshman football player at Illinois. Was he in the stands at Northern Illinois’ Huskie Stadium last year for the title game?
JW: He was right there in the front row. I could see him, and he was cheering for us the whole time. I remember going to the title game when I was a freshman to watch him play. He was so focused all week. It was something he had prepared for since he was a freshman. I think winning a state title is a goal for all Loyola football players from Day 1. Maybe even before freshman year. The goal isn’t to just get there, but it’s to win it.
M&G: Loyola is having another great season, and you are contributing to the success as part of the defensive backfield. How would you rate your play, and do you think the Ramblers have what it takes to repeat as state champs?
JW: I don’t think I’ve played to my potential yet. I think I played physically well in the first game but not mentally. Once I got a better grip of the defense, I’ve been playing a lot better. I thought I played well mentally against Fenwick. This team definitely has the tools to make it to the final game again and win it. The offensive is clicking, and the defense knows it can play much better as a group. Once we get everything clicking at the same time, we are going to be in great shape.
M&G: If Loyola is fortunate enough to reach the title game for the fourth time in six seasons, the game will be played at Champaign’s Memorial Stadium, where your brother Bobby calls home. Have you always been a fan of Illinois football?
JW: No, I wouldn’t say I was a big fan of the Illini until Bobby went there. But I always rooted for the home state teams, like Illinois and Northwestern. Now, all me and my dad talk about is Illinois football. We went to the North Carolina game [in Champaign] the Saturday after we beat Mount Carmel. I am not looking to play football in college, but Illinois is definitely one of my top options for college. I’m looking to stay in the Midwest.
M&G: You’re an alum of Glenview’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help, where a lot of Ramblers played their grammar school football. I know there are some intense rivalries between many of the North Shore parishes. What is it like once you all arrive at Loyola?
JW: By the time you start practices your freshman year, the rivalry ends. I mean, we had a big rivalry with Sacred Heart [in Winnetka] because we always seemed to be the two top teams in the league. But I am now good friends with several of those guys. Quinn Janssen, Conor Craddock and Tomas Henning, who went to St. Norbert [in Northbrook] but played for Sacred Heart, are some of my good friends.
Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola