Wilmette, Sports

Loyola finds Week 2 opponent in 5A power Rochester

Life comes at you fast. You may even say: rocket fast.

The Loyola Ramblers will take on the Rochester Rockets in an improvised battle of state powers both looking for games this weekend.

Loyola Academy had all but given up hope of finding a Week 2 opponent and were staring at a bye and zero playoff points, which are used to seed teams for the IHSA postseason tournament.

Then, another state power found itself in a similar situation. Because of COVID-19 precautions, Decatur’s MacArther High School canceled its contest with Rochester High School, a school near Springfield that has claimed eight IHSA championships in the last 10 seasons.

After a look around, Rochester linked up with Loyola and the two programs agreed to play at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4, at Loyola’s Hoerster Field in Wilmette.

Since the 2010 season, Loyola (Class 8A) and Rochester (4A/5A) have combined to play in 14 state-championship games. In 16 seasons under coach Derek Leonard, the Rockets have 162 wins and an .831 winning percentage, while the Ramblers, with 15 seasons under coach John Holecek, have 153 wins and a .814 winning percentage.

Rochester topped host Jacksonville 56-21 in its 2021 fall opener Aug. 27, and Loyola bested visiting Marquette University High out of Wisconsin 42-14.

In an interview with Springfield-based Channel1450, Leonard said, “We’re just going to go out there and give them our best and get after it, see what we got. It’s against a great program up there, probably the best Catholic League team up there … but man we’re excited and the kids are excited.”

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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