Senior cornerback John Lynch has been one of Loyola’s best players on defense this season, according to head coach John Holecek.

Until Saturday, he did his job without much fanfare.

In the Ramblers’ 41-14 win over Fenwick in Wilmette, the 6-foot, 170-pound Lynch intercepted two passes, one of which he nearly ran back for a touchdown. Nevertheless, both picks resulted in touchdowns.

“He’s had a heck of a year,” Holecek said. “We were wondering if he would step up, and, boy, has he. He had a great summer and a great preseason. He’s been a shutdown corner for us. He’s played fantastic.”

This is Lynch’s first season as a starter in his four years playing football at Loyola. As a junior on varsity, the product of Chicago’s St. Andrew School was a backup safety who mostly played special teams.

“I was really pumped for the season, really excited,” he said.

Lynch said he’s better suited at cornerback. A basketball player, he has the athleticism to match up in isolation with receivers.

“I’m more relaxed at corner,” he said. “I’m not reading as much. I mostly play man and do a lot of guarding.”

Added Holecek: “He’s cagey and instinctive. He plays the position incredibly well.”

Lynch’s first interception came one play after Loyola (4-1) scored to make it 7-0. He perfectly covered his receiver down the sideline and timed his jump to catch the ball in front of him. The Ramblers responded with a 10-play, 40-yard drive that ended with senior running back Hamid Bullie’s second touchdown run of the game and a 14-0 lead.

After the Ramblers took a 17-7 lead into the half, Lynch helped add to the advantage by intercepting his second pass on Fenwick’s third play of the third quarter. He caught the ball at the Friars’ 24-yard line and headed down the sideline, but he collided with Fenwick sophomore quarterback Danny Cronin at the 10. He left the game with a injury to his left shoulder and didn’t return. Lynch said it’s not serious.

“I wanted to score so bad, but I regret trying to blow up the quarterback,” he said. “I should have made a move on him instead.”

Senior quarterback Quinn Boyle got the Ramblers into the end zone with his 6-yard pass to senior receiver Dillon Grant for a 24-7 lead.

Boyle finished 21-for-30 for 199 yards and two touchdowns, one to Grant and the other to junior receiver Artie Collins. He turned over the ball for the first time this year with his interception in the second quarter. Boyle ran 16 times for 123 yards, including a SportsCenter-worthy 9-yard run in which he hurdled a Fenwick player for a first down.

“That’s the type of competitor he is,” Holecek said. “He’s willing to risk whatever to make a play.”

The Ramblers have a big game Friday when they travel to play St. Rita. The Mustangs are 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the Catholic Blue after their 38-21 victory over Mount Carmel on Friday.

Photo credit: Geoff Scott