Leaving a legacy is important to Loyola senior Jack Badovinac.
Through three-plus seasons in the program — two as a varsity starter on the offensive line — the senior left guard is well on his way. In fact, he already has secured his place in Loyola lore after helping the Ramblers win the Class 8A state title last season, the second in program history. Badovinac’s older brother, 2016 graduate Sam Badovinac, started on last season’s offensive line.
But Jack and the other seniors could put themselves in a category all their own by winning a second state title in November.
“You definitely want to leave your mark here,” said the 6-foot-1, 260-pound Jack Badovinac, who has verbally committed to Colgate University. “Winning a Catholic Blue championship or a state championship gets your team on a banner at the school. You come back 10, 15 years from now and see what you did back in high school.”
Badovinac is one of four captains — along with senior receiver Jake Marwede, senior linebacker Graham Repp and senior linebacker Anthony Romano — and he understands the responsibility that brings. According to Loyola head coach John Holecek and several of his teammates, Badovinac is a leader among the captains.
“Jack is the one who talks the most, telling his teammates how to approach the game,” Holecek said. “But he walks the walk, too. He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever coached. He might be the nicest kid off the field, but he’s a killer on it.”
Senior Vito Cannizzaro, a 6-foot, 240-pound defensive lineman, said Badovinac sets a great example for the Ramblers.
“He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen,” Cannizzaro said. “I never see him walking around. He’s the most vocal of our captains, and he’s always talking to us. But he doesn’t have to say anything. His work ethic is unbelievable. He will do anything for the team, and that is what I admire.”
Badovinac, who is 22-0 as a starter, said he learned his methods from his brother, now a freshman offensive lineman at Butler, and last year’s seniors. His style is a mixture of tough love and positive encouragement, he said.
“They left big shoes for us to fill,” Badovinac said of the Class of 2016. “What you do as a senior paves the way for the younger guys. You have to call out guys when they need to step up, push them when you know they can do better. But the guys need to hear what they are doing well, too. I like to bring the energy up in practice, rally the guys to be the best they can be to win the next game.”
And winning is what Loyola has done a lot of recently. And it’s no accident the seniors have led the way. Captains Badovinac, Marwede, Repp and Romano all started for the Ramblers a year ago. In their four years in high school, Loyola has gone 45-5, captured two Catholic Blue championships, finished first in Class 8A in 2015 and was second in Class 8A in 2013. The Ramblers won the Prep Bowl title in 2014.
Loyola’s seniors were honored Saturday at home in the team’s 42-7 win over Providence Catholic. Fittingly, seniors accounted for all six touchdowns and made most of the big plays on defense.
Cannizzaro said he’s well aware of the Class of 2017’s potential place in program history.
“It’s huge for me to know what we’ve done and what we can still do,” said Cannizzaro, a backup lineman last year. “I remember looking up to the seniors like Ben LeRoy, Jack Hough and Justin Somuah last year. They ran the show, but they were all welcoming and helpful. I knew I would have to wait my turn. Every senior, no matter where you are on the depth chart, has a job to do on this team. We are all one team and working toward one goal.”
In addition to the captains, Holecek pointed out the contributions of seniors like Jack Martinus, Jack Moran and David Terrell Jr. this season. He could have mentioned many, many more.
“David is always positive, and he is someone who wants to make plays and works at being able to make plays,” Holecek said. “Martinus is quiet, but he does everything we need of him, catching punts, running great routes. He helps us expose an opponent’s coverage. Moran also is really good at what he does. He plays a ton of special teams, and he could be someone who starts at receiver for every other team we play. He’s someone who will do whatever he can to get on the field. He’s the kind of player you want on your team.”
At the top class remains Badovinac, according to Cannizzaro. Badovinac isn’t one to accept the accolades alone, but he agreed a senior’s strong voice is an important ingredient for success.
“You’re always hearing from the coaches who always give us great insight into the game,” Badovinac said. “But sometimes as a player you need to hear from your peers. Maybe they get tired of hearing me talk all the time, but we have other players who are good at it, too, like [senior lineman] Paddy Kotowski. The important thing is the seniors have to be leaders.”
Photo credit: Geoff Scott