First down: Senior left guard Jack Badovinac was one of the first players Loyola head coach John Holecek singled out after Friday’s 35-28 win over Mount Carmel at Gately Stadium. “He takes every breath like it matters,” Holecek said. “He focuses the guys and brings that high energy. It’s something he does every day.” For the third consecutive game, the Ramblers rode their offensive line. They totaled 356 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per play. For the season, Loyola is averaging 444.0 yards per game, 6.5 yards per play and 38.3 points. “Hats off to our offensive line,” Holecek said. But the line will be without senior center Paddy Kotowski for at least one game. He was helped off the field early in the fourth quarter Friday and didn’t return. After the game, his left knee was in a wrap. Holecek said Kotowski “probably will have an MRI soon.” Senior Brian McTague replaced Kotowski for the rest of the Mount Carmel game.
Second down: After Loyola’s season-opening win against Marquette, Holecek lamented that the Ramblers didn’t force a turnover, which usually is a hallmark of his defenses. Loyola got its first takeaway in Week 2 on senior cornerback Ryan Lin-Peistrup’s interception. Then on Friday, the Ramblers forced three turnovers, two of which resulted in touchdowns and helped the Ramblers build a 28-7 first-half lead. Junior safety Charlie Largay and junior defensive lineman Marty Geary both recovered fumbles, and senior cornerback Ian Swenson (pictured above) intercepted a pass. “Turnovers will come naturally the more confident and more aggressive we play,” Holecek said. “We forced them to make mistakes, and that’s what we want.”
Third down: Holecek said the defense played better in Week 3, but Mount Carmel doesn’t provide the same pressure in the passing game as other teams. Nonetheless, Holecek liked the progress. “The effort was a lot, lot better,” he said. “The mental errors still are there.” A cause for concern was Loyola struggled to stop a team on third downs for a second game in a row. Maine South got half of its 10 third downs, and Mount Carmel finished 6-for-10. The Caravan’s first touchdown came on third-and-goal from the 4-yard line. In the second half, the Caravan converted a third-and-1 and scored on a halfback pass on the next play. But Holecek was more upset about the third-and-longs the Hawks turned into first downs. Maine South got first downs on three third downs with 12 or more yards to go, including completing a pass for 21 yards on third-and-17. “Part of it is getting pressure on the quarterback with our normal rush,” Holecek said. “Part of it is our coverage has to be a lot tighter. I believe we have the physical ability. It’s about communication and confidence in our scheme.” The secondary continued to be shaken up Friday. Largay, after playing cornerback in the first two games, moved to strong safety, and Swenson returned to cornerback. Lin-Peistrup was at the other cornerback position, and sophomore Jake Gonzalez remained at free safety.
Fourth down: Holecek’s former high school coach at Marian Catholic, Dave Mattio, died Wednesday at the age of 68 from pancreatic cancer. Holecek, a 1990 graduate and member of the school’s Hall of Fame, was one of several future NFL players to suit up for Mattio. Holecek, whose No. 52 jersey has been retired by the football program, said he’s been influenced by many coaches throughout his life in football. “It’s hard to pinpoint any one thing I’ve taken away from anybody, but [Mattio] definitely taught me how to be accountable, taught me about responsiblity to my teammates and how to be tough,” said Holecek, who’s 113-24 in 11 seasons with the Ramblers. “Back in the day, there was a lot more punishment to take, especially in practices. He was someone who made me a lot tougher.”
Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola