The worldwide leader in sports is coming to the Illinois leader in football.
ESPN’s annual High School Kickoff will showcase Loyola Academy against visiting St. Xavier, out of Cincinnati, at noon on Sunday, Aug. 28, at Loyola’s Hoerster Field in Wilmette.
The matchup has been in the works for months and was confirmed on Friday, Feb. 11.
Neither Loyola head coach John Holecek or Loyola Athletic Director Genevieve Atwood immediately returned messages from The Record.
ESPN’s High School Kickoff, sponsored by Geico, is in its 13th season and highlights top prep football programs nationwide. Last season, the slate featured seven games from Texas to Florida to Ohio.
Loyola Academy is the state’s premier football program over the past 15 seasons, compiling a 171-36 record under Holecek and advancing to six state championships (two state titles).
Over the past calendar year, Loyola has gone 18-1 across two seasons, including a COVID-necessitated spring season in the 2020-21 school year. This past fall, the Ramblers compiled an unbeaten regular seaosn before losing in the IHSA Class 8A playoffs to state champ Lockport Township.
“It will be a great showcase for our players,” Holecek told Mike Lowe, a reporter for WGN and a Loyola alumnus. “They’ll have the opportunity to show the rest of the country their talents.”
He continued: “We are all excited. This is an unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not only for our players but also for our entire Loyola community.”
St. Xavier won a state championship in 2020 and has advanced to its region’s semifinals for three straight seasons. The Bombers also won state titles in 2005, 2007 and 2016.
Among the Bombers’ prestigious alumni is Luke Kuechly, the former NFL All-Pro and the league’s defensive player of the year in 2013.
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