FIRST DOWN: Senior Marty Geary (pictured above) got an earful from Loyola head coach John Holecek during one down in the second half Friday.

Soon after, the 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive tackle sacked the quarterback.

After the Ramblers’ 28-3 win over Providence Catholic that earned them a share of the Catholic Blue championship, Holecek suggested reporters talk to Geary.

A converted offensive lineman, Geary is in his second season as a starter in as many years on the other side of the ball. According to defensive line coach Beau Desherow, the St. Mary of the Woods graduate continues to progress at the position,

“He’s been a disruptive force for us this year,” Desherow said. “He’s extremely quick and athletic and uses his hands well. With his size and strength, he gives offenses a challenge.”

For the season, Geary leads Loyola in tackles for loss (8) and sacks (5).

“The biggest difference this year is he understands what it means to be a defensive lineman,” Desherow said. “His technique is better, and he now has the type of motor he needs to play defense.”

Desherow said Geary has a “handful” of offers from Football Championship Subdivision colleges, including one from the Patriot League’s Lafayette College.

SECOND DOWN: Along with Geary, senior Jordan King, senior John McMahon and senior Nick Murphy have been regulars on the defensive line, helping the Ramblers hold opponents to an average of 9.75 points a game and 4.2 yards per play.

McMahon has started every game at defensive end, compiling two tackles for a loss and one sack.

“John’s been a pleasant surprise,” Desherow said. “He’s strong and reliable. He’s been consistent for us.”

King and Murphy have rotated at nose guard. Murphy’s moment in the spotlight came when he recovered two fumbles, both of which led to touchdowns, in Loyola’s 31-7 win over Mount Carmel.

“It’s been a good combination,” Desherow said.

THIRD DOWN: Junior receiver Noah Jones’ 10-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter Friday was his first of the season, and it set off a celebration on the sideline.

“It felt good,” he said. “It’s been a hard season and a long road.”

A second-year varsity player, the 6-2, 195-pound Jones was pegged as a game-breaker for the Ramblers this season. But he hurt his left hamstring in August, and Friday was the first time he’s played since Week 2 and only the second time he’s played this season.

As happy as he was about the touchdown, Jones, who declared his 100 percent, said it wasn’t all about him.

“That was for everybody who has helped me,” he said. “The trainers, my coaches, [receivers] coach [Pat] Naughton. I’m glad I could score for him. I thanked all of my teammates, the offensive line. It was a good moment.”

FOURTH DOWN: Saturday’s game against Brother Rice will be a much different than it was a year ago.

Last season, both teams entered the Week 9 game in Chicago undefeated at 8-0. While the Ramblers are 7-1 and 3-0 in the conference this year, the Crusaders are 2-6 and 0-3.

But the outcome still is important to the Ramblers. A win gives them their third consecutive outright Catholic Blue championship and third in a row without a loss.

Photo credit: Geoff Scott