The strangest fall of Daniel Loch’s life has his emotions all jumbled.
The Taft senior was looking forward to his final prep football season in a program that’s one of the Public League’s rising stars.
As a sophomore, Loch quarterbacked the Eagles to their first Public League title in 46 years. Last fall, he and his teammates — including twin brother David, an All-Public League tight end — pushed city powerhouse Simeon in a 26-14 loss and earned a second straight IHSA playoff berth.
This was lining up to be a big year for the Lochs and the Eagles, but then came the pandemic.
They had one day of summer football before it was shut down, Then the football season was pushed to the spring. And finally, the Public League said winter and spring sports could not use contact days OK’d by the IHSA.
“We have not been able to get a break with anything,” said Daniel Loch, who along with his brother also plays basketball at Taft.
Knowing nearby Catholic and suburban football teams are working out right now is a tough pill to swallow.
“It makes us sad we’re not able to do the same thing,” Daniel Loch said. “I’m not going to take it for granted (when football returns). Not being able to have football or basketball camp in the summer has been so depressing.”
But staying idle is not an option for the Lochs, so they’ve joined the Taft boys golf team. It was an easy choice for the pair, who were caddies this summer at Ridgemoor Country Club in Harwood Heights.
“When football was moved to the spring, we had nothing else to do,” David Loch said. “We saw golf was happening, (and thought), ‘Hey, that’s free golf. ... It’s a way to stay active, get out and be competitive.”
“At first, when (fall) football was canceled, we were set on playing golf,” Daniel Loch said. “It’s been too long since I was able to compete.”
But then when the IHSA announced the contact days — but before CPS nixed that option — the brothers had a decision to make.
“We were debating what we were going to choose,” Daniel Loch said. “We were close to skipping golf and (doing) football (camp). Good thing we didn’t.”
Assuming there is prep football at some time this school year, Taft coach John Tsarouchas is looking forward to one more season with the Lochs. They first came to his attention as “really tall, really skinny” eighth graders (both are now 6-foot-6).
“I’ve heard from a lot of Division II schools expressing interest in both of them,” Tsarouchas said.
But that’s not the route the Lochs plan to take. Both are academic standouts, and plan to attend and play football at a Division III school with a premier engineering program. “MIT, that’s our dream school,” Daniel Loch said, with Washington University of St. Louis and Carnegie-Mellon also in the mix.
“They are smart enough to understand it’s a 40-year decision, not a four-year decision,” Tsarouchas said.
“We want to go to school to get a good education,” Daniel Loch said. “Football is second.”
But their abiding hope is that, sometime before they graduate next spring, football will be back on the front burner one more time.