All season long, Loyola football coach John Holecek has touted the special talents of Jake Marwede and has stumped on behalf of the senior as the state’s best player.

In the biggest game of the season, it was easy to see why Holecek is so high on the Duke commit. Even Jeff Bridge, the Duke assistant head coach who recruited Marwede to the Blue Devils as a tight end, marveled at the 6-foot-5, 240-pounder’s abilities from the sideline in Friday’s 48-37 win over Brother Rice in Chicago.

Marwede literally carried the Ramblers to the Catholic Blue championship, Loyola’s second in a row. As a Wildcat quarterback, he rushed for a career-best five touchdowns and totaled 91 yards on 14 attempts. He also caught three passes for 26 yards and completed his only pass attempt for 21 yards.

“Unbelievable,” Holecek said. “He can do it all. Such a weapon, and we’re going to have to utilize him like that a little bit more.”

The Ramblers first employed Marwede on their opening series of the game when they got into the red zone. On third-and-goal from the 4-yard line, Marwede charged up the middle for his first TD.

But it wasn’t until the second half that Loyola offensive coordinator Tyler Vradenburg truly leaned on Marwede. He ran the ball twice on Loyola’s first possession of the third quarter, rushing for 20 yards on third-and-1 and scoring on a 4-yard run on the next play for a 27-23 Loyola lead.

Three of Marwede’s four TDs in the second half returned a lead to the Ramblers. His fifth TD of the game with 2 minutes, 15 seconds to go in the fourth quarter was insurance.

At one point during the second half, Vradenburg spotted Marwede sitting on the bench and simply told him “two more.”

“That’s how many more TDs I wanted from him,” Vradenburg said, with a smile.

Of course, Marwede took none of the credit for his Superman-like performance.

“The O-line does a great job,” he said. “They kept pounding up front. I have to give props to them. They played a heck of a game. All the effort and work is done by them.”

While Marwede’s running from under center has been known since last season, he reminded everybody Friday that he can throw the ball, too. On the first play of the fourth quarter, he connected with junior running back Chris Heywood for a 21-yard gain. The completion moved the Ramblers into Brother Rice territory, and Loyola eventually scored the go-ahead TD on Marwede’s 2-yard run.

“I can throw when I need to, so you can’t rule that out,” said Marwede, who has 15 total TDs on the season. “The running works out well for us, but we have some other things we can toss in there.”

Vradenburg said the pass play had a purpose greater than gaining yards. It was a signal to the rest of the Class 8A bracket that Marwede is more than a runner, he said.

“Jake’s an all-around athlete,” Vradenburg said. “If we put him back there, we can do certain things with him that are going to be tough to stop. He’s a big dude, so it’s hard enough to stop him from running. But he has the ability to throw the ball as well. I wanted to give teams something to think about.”

Photo credit: Geoff Scott