Sporting the No. 52 jersey, the same number his dad wore, junior Jake Holecek tried to give Loyola head coach John Holecek a Gatorade bath, but he found out his father still has some moves.
Instead, the two settled for a hug on the field following the Ramblers’ 13-3 win over Brother Rice in the Class 8A state final Saturday at University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
It was the program’s third state championship and second in four seasons. Loyola finished first in Class 6A in 1993 and first in Class 8A in 2015. This was the Ramblers’ fourth consecutive appearance in the Class 8A state final.
Fittingly, the Ramblers (11-3) secured the win after senior defensive lineman Tim Thompson sacked Brother Rice senior quarterback John Bean on fourth-and-9.
The defense forced two turnovers, which led to 10 points, and held the Crusaders (13-1) to 156 yards of offense.
Loyola had two shutouts in the postseason and surrendered only three touchdowns. This was the first game Brother Rice didn’t score a TD. The Crusaders beat the Ramblers 35-3 in Week 4 in Chicago.
Senior linebacker Eddie Eastman finished with two sacks and forced a fumble that was recovered by junior defensive lineman Luke Desherow. The Ramblers capitalized on the turnover when senior running back Michael Gavric scored on a 4-yard run at the 3:51 mark of the second quarter.
Later in the quarter, senior cornerback Michael Byrne intercepted a pass. Loyola turned that into a 10-0 lead after sophomore Nate Van Zelst kicked a 24-yard field goal with 31 seconds to go before the half.
Late in the third, Brother Rice blocked a punt and got on the scoreboard with a 20-yard field goal with 2:16 remaining in the quarter to make it 10-3.
Loyola’s offense did its job by moving the chains and running clock. Van Zelst upped the lead to 13-3 with a 37-yard field goal with 6:27 left in the fourth.
The Crusaders had the ball two more times, but they got only one first down.
Senior quarterback Jack Fallon went 13-for-20 for 130 yards. He also rushed 17 times for 33 yards. Most importantly, he didn’t turn over the ball.
Senior receiver Artie Collins caught four passes for 62 yards, and senior receiver Jared Lombardi had five receptions for 35 yards.