FIRST DOWN: Senior Charlie Gilroy didn’t score a touchdown in Saturday’s 31-7 win at home over Mount Carmel. He didn’t force a game-changing turnover, either. Gilroy didn’t even play tight end, his natural position.

But Loyola coaches saved some of their highest praise for his performance in the Catholic Blue opener.

“That’s the guy you should talk to,” Loyola receivers coach Pat Naughton said, pointing to the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Gilroy. “That guy is what we are all about.

After yet another offensive lineman got hurt days before the game, Gilroy was moved to right tackle for Saturday. By all accounts, he was a positive presence on the line, which didn’t surrender a sack. As expected, junior Joe Naselli missed the game after suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 2.

“Whatever they want me to do, I will,” Gilroy said. “I would do anything for my team. It was a fun day.”

Added senior quarterback and team captain Quinn Boyle: “He stepped in and did a phenomenal job.”

Before Saturday, Gilroy had never played right tackle or any position on the offensive line. He was put there after senior Joshua Green got hurt Tuesday. Gilroy got a crash course over the following days.

“Being a tight end, I knew most of the plays, but I still had to learn all of them and all of the calls,” he said. “It was a good experience.”

Gilroy, a graduate of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, said he should be back at tight end and wearing his regular No. 87 for Friday’s game at St. Francis.

“The [No. 78] jersey was a little tight,” he joked.

SECOND DOWN: Senior defensive lineman Nicholas Murphy isn’t hard to spot because he resembles a fire hydrant.

Conspicuously listed at 5-10, 235 pounds, Murphy, an interior lineman, looks like someone who can take up the space of two players. In a good way, of course.

On Saturday, Murphy, who went to Wilmette’s St. Joseph School, stood out for his play. He made two tackles and recovered two fumbles, both of which led to touchdowns in the first half. The Ramblers limited Mount Carmel to 197 total yards and one touchdown. The Caravan came into the game averaging 54.5 points.

“Very happy for him,” Loyola head coach John Holecek said. “He’s a little plugger.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, Murphy was slowed in the offseason with a torn tendon in his left wrist. He told the newspaper Saturday that he’s close to 100 percent and “in the groove.”

Although he said he didn’t think about it at the time, Murphy lamented his lost opportunity to get into the end zone after recovering the second fumble at Mount Carmel’s 26-yard line.

“I easily could have scored, but that thought didn’t my cross mind during that time,” he told the Tribune.

Even Holecek said Murphy had room to run in front of him.

“No one was there,” Holecek told the Tribune. “We saw it. He probably could have [scored]. He had a little group around to block for him.”

THIRD DOWN: Loyola offensive coordinator Tyler Vradenburg said before the season that Boyle’s ability to run would be a big part of the team’s game plan.

So far, that’s true.

Through three games, he leads the team in carries (58), yards (223) and touchdowns (3). Against Mount Carmel, Boyle ran 14 times for 77 yards and one TD.

What’s not clear on the stat sheet is how tough the 6-1, 180-pound Boyle runs. He’s not afraid to make contact. In many cases, he’s the one who initiates it.

“I don’t mind it,” he said. “I was raised to play that way. I used to play linebacker.”

FOURTH DOWN: The Ramblers (2-1, 1-0 Catholic Blue) get a bit of a reprieve in the schedule Friday when they travel to Wheaton to play St. Francis (1-2, 0-1 Catholic Green). Loyola beat the Spartans 55-0 last year in Wilmette.

This is the last year St. Francis will play in the Catholic League. The Spartans, Aurora Christian and Bishop McNamara all are leaving to join the Metro Suburban Conference.

Photo credit: Geoff Scott