Loyola senior Anthony Romano admitted it’s not easy being a linebacker with John Holecek as a head coach.

After all, Holecek played the position for eight seasons in the NFL.

“Because of the success he’s had, his standards are high,” the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Romano said. “Sometimes, it’s challenging. But everything he says to me and everything he corrects makes me a better player. I couldn’t get that from any other coach. For that, I am extremely grateful.”

On the flip side, Holecek has said numerous times he’s lucky to have a player like Romano in the middle of his defense.

“He plays with an edge,” Holecek said of the captain and two-year starter. “He’s been an absolute workhorse and really brings a competitiveness to our defense. He’s a nasty hitter, and he’s very important to what we do.”

On Saturday, Romano arguably produced the biggest play of the game. Early in the second quarter, he intercepted a pass and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. It broke a tie game and ultimately led to Loyola’s 42-14 win over O’Fallon in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs.

Romano said he believes it was the first TD he’s ever scored on defense.

“We were struggling, and I was able to make a play to switch the momentum,” Romano said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola