Thursday, August 20, 2015

I've been following Loyola football...

Coach Bob Naughton.
...since my oldest brother showed up to play for the freshman team in 1962. I was four years old and we had just moved to Wilmette the previous summer. My dad, who would be 96 tomorrow, always stood on the top row of the bleachers to get the best view. I still do.

I've also been writing about Loyola football since I started this blog back in the fall of 2008. If you want to read any of my previous posts just type in "Loyola" in that search bar in the upper left-hand corner and you'll find more than enough to keep you busy. So, unlike my other preseason scouting reports, no introduction to the Ramblers is necessary. Let's just dive right in, shall we?

When I asked my contact at Loyola for a scouting report he sent the equivalent of War and Peace. Yikes! This is supposed to be a blog post, not some epic Russian novel. So, assuming you don't have an unlimited attention span (and that you're probably sneaking a peak at this at work while the boss isn't looking) I decided to break it into bite-sized portions. To add a little value of my own, I've included some comments from my brother about his coaches back in the 1960s. He admits his memory is a little hazy (too many hits to the head, I guess), but here goes.

Dick Blackmore, linemen:

Funny guy; tough; kept us from "delusions of grandeur"; great "Bull in the Ring" coach; famous quote: when Paul Gebuhr was caught from behind in a practice run Blackmore noted, "You would be too if your legs were this short" (used his arms to indicate about two feet); he loved the Gip; he was our freshman coach and always thought we were special; we got to believe it, and that led to us winning the City Championship in 1965; total no bullshit person; left to be in the real estate business.

As for that '65 squad, my buddy at Loyola writes:


The 1965 team is one of the six in contention for the title of “Best Loyola Team of All Time.” (The others are the 1933 undefeated squad, the 1969 Prep Bowl Champs, the 1992 state finalists, the 1993 IHSA state champions, and the 2011 team that won a record 13 games and finished just one loss shy of the state championship.) The 1965 team was undefeated and won the Prep Bowl in front of 74,000 people at Soldier Field. The squad was coached by the legendary Bob Spoo, who will be inducted into the Eastern Illinois Hall of Fame this year. He and the 1965 team will be honored at Loyola’s Hall of Fame game this year, and on this page all season, too.

Uh-oh, maybe my contact at Loyola is the one having a senior moment. According to my brother (my emphasis):

We were the 1965 team (Class of 1966) that won the City Championship, and Spoo was not the head coach.  Also, we had one loss, to St Rita early in the season. I am pretty sure Spoo was the head coach at Loyola but after Bob Naughton left.

Is he right? Click on this blurb about Naughton (again, my emphasis):

Emerging in 1963 from Milwaukee's Dominican High School to assume Loyola's football fortunes, a position he championed over a five-year tenure, Robert P. Naughton epitomized everything right with coaching: integrity, verity, and gentility. Just two years after his hiring as head coach, Bob guided Loyola teams to consecutive Prep Bowl championships in 1965 and 1966 (the first of those squads will tonight accompany Bob into the Hall of Fame). The Chicago Sports Writers Association capped the Ramblers' 10-1 season of 1965 by naming Bob its Prep Coach of the Year. Bolstered by this run of success, Bob compiled a resounding 30-3-3 record over just a three-year period. After a brief stint at Brown University, Bob returned to the North Shore and New Trier West High School where he served thirteen years as the Trevians' (nee Cowboys') head coach, claiming two Central Suburban League championships and the 1970 Notre Dame Club of Chicago's Coach of the Year Award. A stellar math teacher, Bob eventually stepped down from both the classroom and the gridiron to become New Trier's Athletic Director from 1981 to 2000. As testament to his administration, New Trier has amassed thirty-one state championships under his direction.

Oh, well. Back to the scouting report:


John Holecek is entering the tenth season of his remarkable run as Loyola’s head coach. His record stands at 96-24, which means he’s won a stunning 80 percent of the games he’s coached. John Hoerster holds the all-time record with a 133-57 record, but it took him 17 seasons. At his current pace, Holecek will eclipse Hoerster in 12 seasons.

Holecek has guided the Ramblers to seven straight seasons of 11 or more wins and 5 straight semifinals appearances from 2009-2013. But for Holecek perhaps the most important stats are the football team’s consistently high scores on the SAT and ACT exams and the success that his players see in college and in life.

If the Ramblers were to win their first three games (no small task against Marquette, Maine South, and Brother Rice), a chance for the 100th victory could come Week Four on a Friday night at Fenwick.

Next: The Players.

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