Preps Talk

Loyola shuts out Marist to claim 8A state championship

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Loyola shuts out Marist to claim 8A state championship

DEKALB, ILL. - For all the dominance on offense displayed by unbeaten Loyola Academy on Saturday, the key to its 41-0 victory over Marist for the Class 8A title was defense.

In scoring their sixth shutout of the season, the Ramblers (14-0) forced a pair of turnovers and held the RedHawks' running attack to minus-2 yards.

Quarterback Brendan Skalitzky was held to 17 yards on 13 carries, after rushing for 186 yards and a touchdown against Waubonsie Valley in the semifinals.

"We knew if we went after him on every play, he wasn't going to want to run," defensive lineman Ben Leroy said. "In passing situations, the pressure would get to him."

With Skalitzky struggling, the RedHawks (9-5) made it inside the Loyola 20 only twice on 10 possessions. The RedHawks entered the end zone once, but an illegal block penalty wiped out Skalitzky's second-quarter touchdown pass to James Dunican.

"I wouldn't say (the pressure) was something we haven't seen. But it was the best defense we saw, definitely," Skalitzky said.

Marist coach Pat Dunne added: "We thought if we could get the ball off and into certain zones, we'd have a chance."

Loyola running backs Dara Laja and Jake Marwede each scored twice as the Ramblers piled up 403 total yards.

The win marks the first state championship for Loyola after second-place finishes in 2011 and 2013.

"It's a relief," Loyola coach John Holacek said. "It's not the worst thing in the world to be the Marv Levy of Illinois high school football, but it's nice to kick through the door."

Marist was held to 73 yards, including minus-14 yards rushing, before Marwede's second touchdown triggered a running clock with 3:56 left in the third quarter.

Quarterback Emmett Clifford's 4-yard touchdown run on Loyola's first series opened the scoring. Laja's 9- and 6-yard runs in the second quarter expanded the lead to 20-0, and Clifford's 9-yard pass to John Isaac with 1:07 left in the half made it 27-0 at halftime.

68 Days to Kickoff: Oswego East

68 Days to Kickoff: Oswego East

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Oswego East

Head coach: Tyson LeBlanc

Assistant coaches: Dan Dunbar, Andy Brogan, Jeremy Main, Erik Aister, Dru Filkins, Connor Downs, Zac Sadek, Reggie Cribbs and Mike Harden

How they fared in 2017: 7-3 (7-2 Southwest Prairie Conference). Oswego East made the Class 8A state football playoff field. The Wolves lost to St. Charles East in opening round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Plainfield East

Aug. 31 @ Joliet West

Sept. 7 vs Romeoville

Sept. 14 vs Joliet Central

Sept. 21 @ Plainfield South

Sept. 28 @ Plainfield North

Oct. 5 vs Oswego

Oct. 12 vs Plainfield Central

Oct. 19 vs Minooka

[MORE: 73 Days to Kickoff - Joliet Central]

Biggest storyline: Can the Wolves get out of the rugged Southwest Prairie conference and make a run in the IHSA state playoffs?

Names to watch this season: ATH Justin Clark and WR Kieon Battle

Biggest holes to fill: The Wolves will need to replace their entire starting defensive line from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: Oswego East head coach Tyson LeBlanc is shooting to make the IHSA playoff field and the fourth straight year in 2018. He has a 36-24 record since coming over from Curie High School back in 2012. Oswego East will rely on a strong group of returning offensive skills led by D-1 recruit Justin Clark, who can --and will-- play multiple positions this season for the Wolves. 

69 Days to Kickoff: Lincoln-Way West

69 Days to Kickoff: Lincoln-Way West

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Lincoln-Way West

Head coach: Dave Ernst

Assistant Coaches: Luke Lokanc, Larry Lokanc, Mike Villa, Eric DoornKaat, George Czart, Bob Lombardi, Sean Lucas, Rob Glielmi, Steve Bauer and Al McKellar

How they fared in 2017: 9-3 (6-1 Southwest Suburban Conference), Lincoln-Way West made the Class 7A state football playoff field. The Knights defeated Jacobs and Alton and then lost to Batavia in the quarterfinal round.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs. Racine Case (Wisc.)

Aug. 31 @ Lincoln-Way Central

Sept. 7 vs. Bradley-Bourbonnais

Sept. 14 vs. Thornridge

Sept. 21 @ Homewood-Flossmoor

Sept. 28 @ Sandburg

Oct. 5 vs. Thornton Township

Oct. 12 @ Stagg

Oct. 19 @ Andrew

Biggest storyline: Can the Warriors get back to the 7A playoffs and make a deeper run this season?

Names to watch this season: OL Martin Bender and RB Caleb Marconi

Biggest holes to fill: The Warriors welcome back 10 returning starters but just three are back on the defensive side of the football. In particular, they will need to replace their entire starting secondary from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: Ernst has guided the Warriors to the IHSA playoffs in each the past six seasons. If West can reload a bit on the defensive side of the football they have a good chance of getting to the postseason again this fall. The good news is that the offense brings back four starting offensive linemen along with bruising RB Marconi. Look for the running game to pace the offense. It should be a big strength this fall.