Dom­i­nant ‘D’ de­liv­ers ti­tle

Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday) - - SPORTS - MICHAEL O’BRIEN mo­[email protected]­times.com | @michael­so­brien

CHAM­PAIGN — Loy­ola lost to Mon­tini in late Sep­tem­ber. That dropped the Ram­blers to 3-3 on the sea­son. Ram­blers coach John Hole­cek and most ev­ery­one in at­ten­dance would never have imag­ined the sea­son end­ing as it did Satur­day at Me­mo­rial Sta­dium.

Loy­ola beat un­de­feated Brother Rice 13-3 to win the Class 8A state ti­tle.

The Ram­blers’ de­fense, Hole­cek’s spe­cialty, found it­self in the sec­ond half of the sea­son. The unit shut out Oswego and Maine South in the play­offs and then beat un­de­feated Lin­coln-Way East 24-16 in the semi­fi­nals.

“They got bet­ter ev­ery day and ev­ery week,” Hole­cek said. “They ful­filled some­thing I will al­ways re­mem­ber, one of the most spe­cial sea­sons of my life. Noth­ing is go­ing to beat this in my ca­reer.”

Brother Rice (13-1) was the next vic­tim. The Cru­saders had 23 rush­ing at­tempts for just five yards. Brother Rice quar­ter­back John Bean was 11-for-26 for 151 yards and was sacked four times.

“They are a tremen­dous de­fense, they are a tremen­dous team,” Bean said. “Our of­fense wasn’t click­ing at times. Props to them, they came out to play.”

Brother Rice beat Loy­ola 35-3 Week 4.

“De­fen­sively, their scheme is the same,” Brother Rice coach Brian Badke said. “They just got af­ter it a lit­tle bet­ter tonight.”

Line­backer Ar­moni Dixon had seven tack­les and a sack for the Ram­blers (11-3). Line­backer Patrick Daniels had six tack­les, and line­man Ed­ward East­man had in two sacks.

“We buck­led down and bought in and paid at­ten­tion to film and went out and ex­e­cuted,” Dixon said.

Loy­ola run­ning back Michael Gavric scored the only touch­down, a four-yard run with 3:51 to play in the sec­ond quar­ter.

“Be­ing the un­der­dog was fun,” said re­ceiver Ar­tie Collins, who had four catches for 62 yards. “We called the sec­ond half of the sea­son the re­venge tour.”

Gavric had 13 car­ries for 39 yards. Ram­blers quar­ter­back Jack Fal­lon had 17 car­ries for 55 yards. He was 13-for-20 pass­ing for 130 yards.

“You won’t find a bet­ter, more coura­geous leader than Jack,” Hole­cek said.

Loy­ola, which has played in six of the last eight Class 8A cham­pi­onship games, won the ti­tle in 1994 and 2015.

“To avenge 2016, 2017 and [the loss to Brother Rice] ear­lier this year, it is a sto­ry­book end­ing,” Hole­cek said. “I loved the un­der­dog role.”

WOR­SOM ROBIN­SON/FOR THE SUN-TIMES

Loy­ola play­ers cel­e­brate with the Class 8A state cham­pi­onship tro­phy af­ter beat­ing Brother Rice on Satur­day in Cham­paign.

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