Loyola football coaches Beau Desherow and Ryan Gallagher will be inducted as individuals into the school’s Hall of Fame on Friday. The 1993 graduates were part of the first Loyola football team to play for a state championship. Those 1992 Ramblers lost to Naperville North 21-11 in the Class 6A final. Desherow and Gallagher earned a measure of redemption last year when the Ramblers captured the Class 8A state championship by beating Marist 41-0. Jack Prikos, a 1991 graduate, also will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player Friday, and Loyola head coach John Holecek will receive the Frank J. Amato Excellence in Coaching Award. Pat Naughton, a 1996 graduate, is the only other member of the current varsity coaching staff in the Hall of Fame as a player.
Maroon & Gold: What do you value most about having played football at Loyola?
Beau Desherow: First and foremost, it’s the relationships you build, the bonds you make with your teammates. Going through two-a-days in the heat, facing adversity and then achieving goals. Working on a common mission really forges bonds that last a lifetime.
Ryan Gallagher: It’s such a special program and has been for so many years. It’s an honor to be part of it on a daily basis. The thing I valued most as a player was being with my teammates. Those offseason workouts, screwing around during practices. Those are the memories that last. Just being with your boys. The coaching, too. The guidance we got when we were there was second to none. We knew we would be prepared to play every game.
M&G: What is one of your favorite memories from your time in the program?
BD: When we played Homewood-Flossmoor in the semifinals our senior year. We had been in the semifinals the two previous seasons, but we couldn’t get over the hump. They came in as the No. 1-ranked team in the state, and they were No. 1 all year. They ran the run-and-shoot offense, and they were just killing teams. Being the first team to punch that ticket to the state title game was awesome. I remember at halftime, [Loyola head coach John] Hoerster drawing up new blitzes and stunts to get some pressure on their quarterback. It worked. I also will remember the time right after home games, walking off the field and being greeted by my family and my girlfriend, now my wife [Danielle née Ferrini]. It was such a warm feeling.
RG: This is a tough one because they are so many good ones. But the one I go back to the most is a bad one — the title game we lost. To this day, it was the worst game I ever played, and I feel like I let my teammates down. It’s something I will never be able to get out of my head. But as Beau said, the H-F game was a good one. I was a running back, but I had to play safety in the second half because of an injury. I had never played safety in high school. I guess they were confident in my abilities. I didn’t know any of the defensive calls, and I had to rely on my teammates to line me up correctly. I will never forget the difference between the offensive and defensive huddles. In the offensive huddle, it’s one guy talking — the quarterback. In the defensive huddle, there were 10 guys screaming at each other and then me. It blew my mind. That was different. I don’t think I made all that many plays, but I did recover a fumble.
M&G: This probably is an impossible question to answer, but what do you enjoy more: Coaching or playing?
BD: I got into coaching because I couldn’t play anymore. There is definitely something to be said about being a positive role model. But if I could, I would suit up tomorrow and play. There is nothing better than playing, and it goes by so fast. I tell the kids all the time to relish it. You can’t play football your whole life, so enjoy each moment. But coaching at Loyola is truly a blessing. Outside of my parents, the most influential people in my formation as a man were the coaches who coached me at Loyola. To give back to the Loyola community in this way is special and means a lot to me.
RG: I have been lucky enough to play scout team quarterback during Mount Carmel week. I put on the helmet and shoulder pads for three or four days a week. But I had a hard time getting out of bed after this year, so I’m done. I miss the hitting, the physicality of football. It was the only game I had. I didn’t have the speed, but I didn’t shy away from contact. I enjoyed running someone over. Being a coach where you played is special, too. The community is so involved with football that I am able to stay in touch with some of my teammates from the past. But I don’t think you can ever say coaching is enjoyable than playing. It’s not the same competitive level.
M&G: As you got older, did you ever think about the Hall of Fame? What does the honor mean to you?
BD: I didn’t think that I was a Hall of Fame player. I played with so many great players at Loyola. To be recognized was a surprise to me, but it’s a huge honor. It gives me an opportunity and a platform to thank the people who helped me along the way, my coaches, my teammates and my family for providing me with the opportunity to go to Loyola.
RG: I never thought this honor would be given to me. I thought I was a decent high school player. I didn’t think I was great, and I didn’t have great numbers. Walking through the hallway at Loyola, you see all the Hall of Fame members, but it was never a thought that crossed my mind. This is such a huge honor for me.