Loyola’s large, strong and skilled offensive line did the nearly unthinkable on Saturday in Glen Ellyn, dominating Glenbard West to lead the Ramblers to a 42-13 victory in the Class 8A semifinals. The win sends Loyola to the state championship game in Champaign on Saturday.
Ramblers coach John Holecek seemed a bit in awe of his players after the win.
“On film I didn’t think [Glenbard West] had any weaknesses,” Holecek said. “They are a really complete team. Coming in here to their place and put on this performance, hats off to the offensive line.”
Loyola didn’t punt in the game. They led just 14-7 at the half, but dominated the third quarter.
“We had articles hanging in the locker room this week that said they were a second half team, that they don’t care what happens in the first half,” Loyola offensive lineman Chris Betz said. “Our job was to take that momentum away and kind of punch them in the mouth right away.”
The Ramblers faced a fourth-and-two on their first drive of the third quarter. Holecek had receiver Jake Marwede step in as the Wildcat quarterback. He blasted through for 20 yards. He ran for a 15-yard touchdown on the next play, also from the Wildcat.
“It was fourth down and he just leaped over the line and started running,” Betz said. “That was awesome to see. There wasn’t that big of a hole there, just bodies on the ground. It was a great play by Jake. That was a great momentum shifter.”
Marwede had four receptions for 62 yards with a five-yard touchdown catch. He rushed seven times for 52 yards.
“The offensive line gets excited when [Marwede] is in there,” Holecek said. “They know it’s a ‘ground and pound’ as they call it.”
Loyola quarterback Tommy Herion went through concussion protocols this week, it was unknown if he was going to play, but he started and was terrific. The senior finished 15-for-20 for 183 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Ramblers (13-0) are one game away from consecutive perfect seasons. Their depth is a major factor. Running backs Hamid Bullie and Kyle Rock shared the bulk of the carries for most of the season. Bullie suffered a season-ending injury a few weeks ago, but Loyola hasn’t missed a beat. Rock has taken full advantage of running behind the talented offensive line. He had 16 carries for 167 yards and one touchdown on Saturday.
“[Rock] been huge, carrying a ton of the load,” Marwede said. “He really stepped up into being the main man. That’s a credit to him and the great offensive line.”
Glenbard West running back Ryan Diver had 14 carries for 99 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Cole Brady finished 5-for-12 for 100 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Mackey for the Hilltoppers (10-3).
Loyola will play Maine South for the Class 8A state title next week. The Hawks gave Loyola its stiffest test of the season back in Week 2 when the Ramblers hung on to win 44-43 at home.