WILMETTE — Loyola senior linebacker Tim Sullivan has seen his share of standout runners in his first season as a starter: The Ramblers football team has had to contend with Providence senior Dominic Lagone, Mount Carmel senior Matt Domer and St. Rita senior Tommy Mister this season.
Lagone and Mister each ran for 224 yards against the Ramblers, while Domer, who’s verbally committed to Illinois, totaled 187 yards.
Sullivan and the rest of the Loyola linebackers will see another star this week when they play Notre Dame senior Chris James, who ran for 243 yards and scored three touchdowns on Friday in a 28-14 win at Fremd.
“We’ve played a tough schedule, and we played against a lot of good players,” said Sullivan, a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder who lives in Glenview. “(James) looks very fast and pretty big, too. He’s a good combination of speed and power. We just have to attack, get to the ball and tackle.”
Loyola coach John Holecek appreciates the challenge the Ramblers will face at 6 p.m. Saturday in Niles in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs.
“He’s a strong kid who plays with great leverage,” Holecek said of James. “He puts his head down and plays small.
“We have to stay disciplined and wrap up and secure the tackle. It’s about good technique. We can’t go for that kill shot. We just have to try and limit his gains.”
Sullivan is joined at linebacker by senior Andrew Cerney, senior Austin Lyons, junior Brian O’Brien and junior Mark Nichol. Cerney and Lyons both earned all-Catholic Blue honors this season.
“It’s been a good group,” said Holecek, whose team beat Lane 48-7 in the opening round of the Class 8A playoffs Saturday. “They all have their strengths and weaknesses.”
Cerney and O’Brien have more run responsibilities, while Lyons and Nichol are good at rushing the passer. Sullivan can do both equally well.
“He’s big and long and physical,” Holecek said of Sullivan. “He’s also very smart. He can do a bit of everything.”