Football Preview: Loyola

2012 record: 11-2 overall, 4-0 Catholic Blue League

2012 playoffs: Lost in semifinals of Class 8A to Glenbard North

Head coach: John Holecek, entering eighth season

Game to watch: Mount Carmel at Loyola, 1:30 p.m. Oct. 5.

Loyola beat Mount Carmel last year for the second season in a row, but the Caravan went on to capture the Class 8A state championship, the program’s 11th overall and the second most in state history.

Who made the most of the offseason?

Following in big footprints is never easy, but coach John Holecek said senior Jack Penn did a fine job of filling the opening at quarterback created by Peter Pujals’ graduation. “He jumped right in and performed well,” the coach said of Penn, who also stars at lacrosse. “We don’t give positions away. He knew he was going to have to come in and prepare and compete.”

Pujals plans to play at Holy Cross this fall.

What adjustments did the program make during the offseason?

Senior wide receiver Joe Joyce said the biggest change is the new face at quarterback. Penn follows standouts Malcolm Weaver (a redshirt freshman at Butler) and Pujals. Although he’s a first-year starter, Penn is expected to have a lot of latitude at the line of scrimmage. “He’s someone who manages the game extremely well,” Joyce said.

Who will be a difference maker this season?

Senior defensive back Jack Gleason, who stands 5-foot-11 and weights 185 pounds, is pound-for-pound the toughest player on the Ramblers, said Holecek. Gleason is the team’s best cover cornerback, but he is scheduled to see a lot of time at safety, playing next to junior Ryan Zinkula. Gleason is one of three starters back on defense.

— Matt Harness

What I did over my summer vacation … Fran O’Malley

I took my first service trip this summer the week of July 4. I thought it would be a great experience to see how many people live differently compared to me. It was a life-changing event for me. It definitely taught me that I should live a lot simpler than I do. We worked on this man’s house from about 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for five days. We painted the outside of his house, and we also redid his bathroom. We put in a new toilet, retiled the floor and painted all the walls.

— O’Malley is a senior wide receiver who went on the service trip to eastern West Virginia with classmates Gleason, Tommy Nickele and Charlie Hasson.

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