Loyola isn’t shying away from the spotlight shining on Saturday’s home game against St. Rita.
In fact, John Holecek and Co. welcome all the hype and hoopla surrounding the final game of the regular season that features two teams ranked in the top 10.
St. Rita made the marquee matchup possible with its 17-7 win over Mount Carmel on Friday, while Loyola took care of business with its 20-13 victory over Brother Rice.
“Should be a lot of fun,” Holecek said of the Catholic Blue showdown. “Obviously, this is something every player dreams about, and it’s something we are going to have fun with.
“Win or lose, we are going to be better off for it in the long run.”
Loyola is looking for its first undefeated regular season since the 1991 season, when it finished 12-1 under coach John Hoerster.
“We held ourselves to a high standard this year, and we expected to be here,” senior receiver Charlie Dowdle said. “Right after we won that Brother Rice game, we got geared up for this one.
“It’s going to be a battle.”
Both teams enter Saturday unbeaten in league play, and each is perfect against Illinois opponents. St. Rita’s lone loss was a 7-0 defeat in Week 2 to Whitehaven from Memphis, Tenn.
“St. Rita is talented, with awesome athletes on offense and defense,” Dowdle said. “They are really good at adjusting to teams they play. You have to play almost perfect game to win.”
This game won’t be won by scoring 40 points, even if the Ramblers own one of the most dynamic playmakers in the state in quarterback Malcolm Weaver. The senior, who went to sideline in the second half last week, will start against the Mustangs.
“They are extremely physical and extremely big,” Holecek said. “They usually dominate the line of scrimmage, so we are going to have to try and withstand that aspect.
“Their defense is as fast and as physical as you will see. They have talented players and great linebackers. They run and hit hard. It will be a very physical game.”