Ramblers’ Defense Makes Statement in Catholic League Opener

Senior+Jack+Nimer+makes+a+tackle+during+last+Saturday%27s+home+game+against+St.+Rita.+Loyola%27s+defense+stymied+the+Mustangs%2C+leading+to+a+Rambler+win.

The Year

Senior Jack Nimer makes a tackle during last Saturday’s home game against St. Rita. Loyola’s defense stymied the Mustangs, leading to a Rambler win.

Kevin Duffy, Writer

After the Ramblers began their 2019 season 1-1 before beginning Catholic League play, a win at home against St. Rita would go a long way towards determining how well Loyola would fare in their title defense season.

St. Rita came in ranked in the IHSA’s top 50, the Ramblers knew it wouldn’t be a cake walk on their home turf, despite the Mustangs (1-1) coming into Wilmette off of a 35-28 loss to Richards High School in Oak Lawn.

The Ramblers defense shined, especially in the second half of last Saturday’s game. The secondary did well to hold the Mustangs’ passing attack at bay, holding St. Rita’s senior quarterback, Brian Johnson to only 121 passing yards, and a lackluster 50% completion percentage.

After last week’s 34-3 beat down of New Trier, fans wondered if the Ramblers’ defense could continue their dominance against a top-50 Catholic League opponent. It’s safe to say, that despite a slow start, Loyola’s performance this past Saturday should quell any worry.

After a sluggish first half, the Ramblers defense helped break the game open, with a massive 3rd quarter interception by senior Daniel O’Flaherty inside Loyola’s red zone, when the Mustangs were threatening to take the lead. By blanking St. Rita in the second half, the Ramblers kept opponents to single-digits in three out of the last four games, including last year’s 13-3 win in the state championship game.

The Ramblers can thank their defense for cementing their top-5 rank in Illinois. Unfazed by allowing an early rushing touchdown to St. Rita sophomore Kaleb Brown, the boys in maroon and gold relied on their bread and butter, defense and the run game.

“They won the first half. It was tied at halftime, but we couldn’t get a rhythm going, they outplayed us,” says senior running back Tyler Flores.

Halftime adjustments by Coach Holecek and crew proved to be the difference, forcing Mustang quarterback Brian Johnson into making errant throws, and stifling Mustang running backs Henry Wilson, Kaleb Brown, and Kyle James to only 63 yards after Brown’s 41 yard touchdown.

The Ramblers travel to Woodlawn to take on Mount Carmel (4-0) this Friday night. It will certainly prove to be a tough test, as the Caravan are coming off four straight wins. We’ll see how the Ramblers preform