NO. 32 O’FALLON AT NO. 1 LOYOLA ACADEMY
Kickoff: 2 p.m. Saturday in Wilmette
Next Week: Winner advances to second round game against either No. 16 Oswego East (8-1) or No. 17 Chicago Curie (8-1)
O’FALLON PANTHERS (5-4)
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Coach: Brandon Joggerst (10th year, 63-38)
Playoff History: The Panthers are making their second straight post-season appearance and seventh in the last eight years. O’Fallon has advanced to the quarterfinals four times -- 1989 in Class 5A, and 2004, 2009 and 2011 in 7A.
Scouting Report: O’Fallon succeeded in being the last team to make the Class 8A post-season cut because of it’s strong schedule that included five playoff qualifiers and three in the state rankings. The Panthers started 1-3 on the season, but won four in a row before falling to East St. Louis in week 9. Offensively, the Panthers have had good balance in averaging nearly 34 points per game. Junior quarterback Christian Perez (96-of-200, 1,531 yards, 17 TDs, seven interceptions) is having a breakout year and senior running back Mason Hewitt (237 carries, 1,681 yards, eight TD’s) established a new single-season rushing record at OTHS. Top pass receivers are Ronald Anthony (28 catches, 494 yards, one TD) and Darryl Cobb Jr. (22 catches, 391 yards,five TDs). Defensively, the Panthers surrender an average of 27 points per game. The unit is led by linebackers Zaine Roe (70 tackles, 58 solo) and Deven Monahan (74 tackles, sack, fumble).
LOYOLA ACADEMY RAMBLERS (9-0)
Coach: John Holecek (11th year, 119-24)
Rank: No. 1 in Illinois 8A; No. 5 in USA Today National Super 25
Playoff history: The Ramblers have missed the playoffs just twice since 1990. In that time they have one two state championships (Class 6A in 1993 and 8A last season), finished second three times (1992, 2011 and 2013), were semifinalists five times (1995, 1996, 2003, 2008, 2014), and quarterfinalists three times (2009, 2010, 2012).
Scouting Report: The Ramblers plowed through the middle portion of their schedule, but faced stiff competition in a 44-43 week 2 squeaker over Maine South (6-3) followed by a narrow 35-38 win at Chicago Mt. Carmel (5-5). They are coming off a huge 48-37 win over Catholic League-Blue Division rival and No. 3- ranked Brother Rice (8-1) in the season finale. They have now won 26 straight games. Along the way, Loyola has averaged 44.2 points per game, while allowing just 16.3. The team is led by tight end Jake Marwede, who also lines up as the Ramblers’ quarterback in the wildcat formation. He’s rushed for five touchdowns. Senior linebacker Anthony Romano leads the defense. In 1995, Coach John Holecek was a fifth round draft pick out of the University of Illinois by the Buffalo Bills and spent eight seasons in the NFL. He was a finalist for the U.S. Army National High School Coach of the Year in 2015.