Friday, August 21, 2015

Uh-oh, I may have started...

...something. More from my brother:

50 years is a long time, for sure. Attached is a picture from the Chicago Tribune, I believe, the day we won the Prep Bowl. Quarterback Tim Foley (who later played for Purdue and the Miami Dolphins), right guard David O'Donovan and fullback Paul Gebuhr. (Foley was hurt and played one point-after where his kick went awry.) 

We always thought of it like the Revolutionary picture of the drummer, fifer and flag bearer. Kids!

One other fact: Foley got hurt early in the year at the Gordon game where he broke his shoulder. He had a pin put in. Bill O'Donnell stepped up and played the rest of the season, but he got hurt also.  Ken Krakovich stepped up and was the quarterback for the Prep Bowl and maybe the Catholic League Championship game vs. Leo. It taught me the meaning of teamwork and showed how Coach Bob Naughton's system was the key to winning, not stars.

Thanks for the memories.*

Fast forward to August, 2015. Who are the players to watch on this year's Loyola team? From my contact at the Wilmette school:

Offensively, the Ramblers should have a variety of weapons with a wealth of tall receivers, a star-quality running back in Dara Laja and a veteran offensive line. Coach John Holecek says this unit is “the most explosive” he has seen in his time at Loyola. It starts and ends with a healthy Emmett Clifford at quarterback.

Defensively, Loyola had to replace a lot of starters, including the Fearsome Foursome of linebackers (Brian O'Brien, Cal Falkenhayn, Mark Nichol and Emmett Russell). With such stalwarts gone, Loyola will need players to step up in the middle and backfield of the defense, but the line, anchored by Ben LeRoy, looks solid. Expect the same attacking and relentless defenses that bring pressure and cause turnovers as we’ve seen throughout the Holecek era. “Our defense has to catch up to our offense,” Coach Holecek said.

This group of seniors has come a long way from being 2-7 as freshmen, to 8-1 as sophomores (CCL Blue Co-Champs), and 11-3 as juniors (Prep Bowl champions). They are hungry for success.

Let's "drill down" a little, shall we?

Here are a few of the players who figure to make a big impact on Loyola’s 2015 season:

No single player will have as much of an impact on the season as six-foot quarterback Emmett Clifford. He’s the unquestioned leader, not only of the offense, but also the entire team. He thoroughly understands coach Tyler Vradenberg's offensive schemes and play options. He’s tremendously physically fit, so the up-tempo game the Ramblers play is not a problem. He played a lot last year, and propelled the Ramblers to big wins -- including the epic comeback against Edwardsville in Week Two. He suffered a season-ending broken collar bone against DePaul Prep, so the big question is, can he stay healthy?

Running back Dara Laja (5'9", 180) begins his senior season about 500 yards shy of Pat Naughton's all-time rushing record. Laja played sporadically as a sophomore, when Julius Holley was injured. He was the featured back last year and is a lock to start again this year. He has a background as a wrestler, with a low center of gravity. He not only added 10 to 15 pounds of muscle to his frame in the off-season, but also retained his speed. The extra bulk should help him negate the persistent criticism of him last year – that he goes down too easy on first contact, something Naughton never did. Still, we’re watching one of the all-time greats, here, and he’ll likely have the record by mid-season.

Tight end Eric "Esh" Eshoo (6'5", 225) is perhaps the best athlete/physical specimen on the team. He has already accepted a scholarship to play for Pat Fitzgerald at Northwestern next year.

Defensive lineman Ben Leroy (6'3", 265) is a dominant force on the interior defensive line. He brings pressure against the pass and is solid against the run. He has already accepted a scholarship to play for the resurgent Northern Illinois Huskies.

Middle linebacker and special teams John Shannon (6'2", 235) is ranked as the No. 1 long snapper in the nation in the Class of 2016. He has already accepted a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame.

Other seniors to watch:

Wide receiver Thomas Smart (6'3", 195), center Sam Badovinac (6'2", 250), right tackle Danny Kurkowski (6'4, 290), linebacker Cross Daffada (5'9", 200), wide receiver Jonah Issac (5'9", 170), wide receiver Paul Escalante (5'10", 170), running back Jack Loper (5'10", 210), guard Thomas Nute (6'0", 290), safety Bobby Desherow (6'2", 190), nose guard Justin Somuah (5'10", 245), guard Jack Tamisea (6'0", 225), middle linebacker and kicker Patrick Tata (5'9", 193) and cornerback Sam Taylor (5'6", 165).


Tight end Jake Marwede (6'5", 221), wide receiver David Terrell (5'11", 165), cornerback Ian Swenson (6'1", 170), middle linebacker Graham Repp (6'0", 200), middle linebacker Anthony Romano (6'2", 215), guard Jack Badovinac (6'2', 250), tackle John Brekke (6'3", 260), defensive end Omar Mendez (6'3', 250), wide receiver Jack Martinus (5'11', 165), and running back Kyle Rock (5'9", 170).

And sophomore quarterback Quinn Boyle (6'0", 165).

Next: the Ramblers' 2015 schedule.

* More on Coach Naughton:

Very smart; math teacher; went on to be the head coach after Len Jardine left; surprised us all, as he was more of an academic guy rather than a tough guy; turned out to be a big winner at Loyola and later New Trier West; also the athletic director there; very funny.

No comments: