Saturday, August 29, 2015

John Holecek will lead...

...Loyola today* against Marquette University High School of Milwaukee at Sachs Stadium.

As I mentioned here and here, Holecek is entering his tenth season at the helm of the Ramblers with a career record of 96-24. The Marian Catholic grad has guided his Wilmette squad to seven straight seasons of eleven or more victories and five consecutive semifinal appearances from 2009-13. Wow.

But before Coach Holecek there was John Hoerster, the winningest coach in Loyola history. Over sixteen seasons, the St. Rita alum compiled a won-loss record of 133-57. You can read more about him here. Makes you wonder what might have been had Hoerster not died suddenly of a heart attack at age 53.

Now, before Hoerster there was Robert Naughton, whom I've also mentioned here.

But what about some of the others, like Len Jardine and Bob Spoo?

According to my older brother:

Coach Jardine went by the nickname "Jars"; very tough guy from Purdue, and I think LA; went on to coach at Brown and work at Cross Pen for many years; brother was John who coached at Fenwick many years.

According to this and to his Wikipedia entry (yes, he has a Wikipedia entry):

When Father English vowed to rebuild Loyola's football program he turned immediately to Len Jardine. Jardine had been All-Catholic League in both football and basketball during the 1950s and played at Purdue from 1957 to '59. In his senior year he led the team in scoring receptions and was named All-Big Ten. From 1960 to '63, Coach Jardine dramatically changed Loyola's football fortunes for the better. Jardine's 1963 squad is considered by many to be the finest team in Loyola Academy history. He set the pattern for the '60s, a decade that saw Loyola win 79 games while losing only 15.

After the 1963 season Jardine was hired as an assistant coach at Purdue under Jack Mollenkopf and served from 1964 to '66. Purdue went to the Rose Bowl in 1966 and Jardine moved on to the head coaching job at Brown University.

My brother mentioned Jardine's brother, John, in his email to me. Who the heck was he? From this and his Wikipedia page:

The son of a Chicago Water Commissioner, John Jardine (above in the white shirt and tie) arrived at Fenwick in 1959 after playing guard at Purdue. Jardine's five teams at Fenwick produced an overall 51–6–1 record and the Friars played in the Chicago Catholic League title game in 1959, 1961, and 1962. His 1962 squad was undefeated, winning the Chicago city title.

Following the 1963 season, Jardine returned to Purdue as an offensive line coach under Jack Mollenkopf (sound familiar?). He then served as offensive line coach under Tommy Prothro at UCLA from 1965 to 1969 before taking the top job at Wisconsin which he held until 1977.

Let's drill down on that 1962 season, shall we?

Jardine was only a 27-year-old head coach. In those days, many conferences, including the Chicago Catholic League, allowed only limited substitutions. Players went both ways on offense and defense.

Fenwick started the season in convincing fashion, putting away each Catholic League opponent starting with Mt. Carmel and allowing none of them to even score. When Fenwick bested Weber, 16-0, before 9,000 fans jammed into Oak Park Stadium, supporters started to believe that this might be the year for the Friars. By late October they had not lost and had not even been scored upon. When finally St. Philip became the first team to score on Fenwick, it made the front page of the Chicago Tribune sports section. Fenwick played their final three games at Soldier Field, defeating St. Rita, 39-6, and Leo, 34-6, in the Catholic League finals. Fenwick was back in the Prep Bowl on December 1, 1962, against the champion of the Chicago Public League, Schurz High School.

At the time, there was no state football championship and Chicago-area residents viewed the Prep Bowl as the ultimate Illinois high school game. In the week leading up to the contest, the papers ran many stories including the possibility that the game might draw 90,000 fans to Soldier Field. Although Fenwick had won the 1945 Prep Bowl and been in five others, the Friars had never been undefeated. On the day of the game, the Chicago Tribune sports section's headline read "Schurz, Fenwick Battle for Title." The next day the headline read "91,328 See Fenwick Rout Schurz, 40-0." A front page banner read "Fenwick City Champs! Navy Wins, Notre Dame Loses."

Schurz didn't get beyond Fenwick's 45-yard line until late in the game. Coach Jardine started sitting his starters midway through the third quarter. It was the most lopsided win in Prep Bowl history. Fenwick was undefeated in 10 games and had scored 317 points to its opponents' 32. The Friars probably completed 30 passes all year, but had as many interceptions and fumble recoveries.

That's a great story, isn't it?

But what about Bob Spoo? My brother remembers:

Bob Spoo was from Purdue; went on to be head coach at LA; then to Purdue; famous line to Steve Fox: "Catch the ball"; Spoo was a lunch bucket type of guy; single; always came to events with a babe.

Spoo had been a quarterback at Purdue. (Loyola had quite a connection with that school, didn't they? No wonder Tim Foley went there.) As coach of the Ramblers, Spoo compiled a lifetime record of 51-9 and was named Coach of the Year in 1969. His team that year joined the 1930 squad as the only undefeated one in Loyola Academy history. The Ramblers went 11-0 and defeated Lane Tech, 26-0, in the Prep Bowl.

Spoo went on to serve as an assistant at Purdue and Wisconsin before being tapped for the head coaching job at Eastern Illinois University. From 1987-2011, Spoo was 144-126-1 and groomed future NFLer Tony Romo.

While we're at it, there were also these two:

Terry Sheehan was kind of a crazy type; went on to Brown with Jardine, I think; famous quote to David O'Donovan: "You're going to learn to love this game."


Bill Graff, who went on to be an academic person at LA; he and I never got along; died in the last 2-3 yrs.

* I meant to get this post out this morning but got sidetracked. Loyola won, 35-0.

No comments: