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Football Preview: No. 1 Loyola

There was a special precision behind Loyola’s perfection last season. The Ramblers’ generally played mistake-free football. It was a beautiful blend of smarts, teamwork, athleticism and bravery that led to an undefeated season and the Class 8A state title.

So the bar is set pretty high for this season’s Loyola squad, which is the Sun-Times’ preseason top-ranked team.

“That was a special group of players,” Loyola coach John Holecek said. “It takes that and then everybody buying in and everyone having a selfless attitude. Hopefully the taste of it makes the younger guys hungry and makes them work and allows them to see that it’s possible. It’s no secret, if you’re not physically gifted you have to do it mentally.”

There will be new faces in most key spots for the Ramblers, but plenty of them saw significant playing time last season. Tight end Jake Marwede, a Duke recruit and wide receiver David Terrell Jr., should be key figures on offense. Senior Tommy Herion will start at quarterback but junior Quinn Boyle is expected to get some snaps as well.

“Tommy’s a little faster but Quinn is ready,” Holecek said. “They do so many things well that we feel real confident in either one of them.”

Loyola suffered a major loss at the beginning of practice this summer. Defensive back Ted Falkenhayn had to quit the team after suffering a concussion.

“[Falkenhayn] was offered a DI scholarship this year,” Holecek said. “He had an episode in practice and now he’s done. He was one of our main guys. There’s some talent, but [the defense] could have a slow start.”

Terrell Jr., the son of former Bears receiver David Terrell, has been impressed with the defense.

“Overall the defense really was kicking our butts the first half of the summer,” Terrell said. “I think offensively we’ve started clicking recently and things have been more 50/50 but the defense definitely has made some improvements and I think they are going to be really good.”

Cornerback Ian Swenson and linebackers Anthony Romano and Graham Repp should lead the charge on defense. The Ramblers’s offensive line looks strong behind Jack Badovinac and John Brekke.

“Those two guys on the left side of the line are college players,” Holecek said. “They are beasts so that will help a lot.”

Hamid Bullie and Kyle Rock will run the ball. Holecek described them as “very good high school backs.”

There will be a massive target on Loyola’s back this season. That can be difficult for any team to deal with.

“Everyone has been telling us to not let one [state title] be enough so that’s what we are striving for,” Marwede said. “We want to get one more. This is a whole new year, last year is forgotten. It’s time to win another state championship. We’re getting the chemistry down, trying to get bigger, faster and stronger and making sure that mentally we do everything right.”

Loyola schedule

Aug. 26: at Milwaukee Marquette, Wis., 7:30 p.m.

Sep. 3: vs. Maine South, 1:30 p.m.

Sep. 9: at Mount Carmel, 7:30 p.m.

Sep. 17: vs. St. Francis, 1 p.m.

Sep. 23: at Fenwick, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 1: vs. St. Rita, 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 7: at Leo, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 15: vs. Providence, 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 21: at Brother Rice, 7:30 p.m.