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1947 Football Team (2001)

The 1947 Football Team ran like a juggernaut through an undefeated and untied regular season, one of the few in the Academy's distinguished football history. In doing so, the Ramblers of 1947 captured the school's first Catholic League Section championship since 1933, and established itself as one of the most successful teams in Loyola's proud tradition. As another autumn came and the 1947 football season loomed, there was little confidence among Loyola's faithful that the season would be any different from the previous several. The Ramblers, though always scrappy, had played .500 ball, and were seldom contenders for a title. The 1945 season of 4-5 was followed by a dismal 3-6 in 1946, and the casual observer probably saw little hope of a winner, certainly not of a championship team. Among the members of that 1947 team, however, there was a quiet sense that something special was about to happen. First-year head coach Bob Batchelor, an assistant the year before, had taken over the Rambler helm in the spring of 1947. Bob was a World War II veteran, former player for University of Detroit and Notre Dame, and a player on the Mount Carmel league champs of 1939 and 1940. He had spent some time with winners. That summer and early autumn of 1947 he and his small staff quietly molded a Loyola team that would storm the league. With a high-scoring offense and a hard-nosed, stingy defense, the Ramblers swept through the first seven games of their schedule by outscoring their opponents 243 to 31. Led by Catholic League Hall of Famers Fred Dempsey and Pete Hester and Catholic League scoring champion Mike Ryan, Loyola was on the verge of a North Section championship and a shot at the Catholic League title. Only undefeated rival Fenwick, and its stars - future Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lattner (Notre Dame) and Bill Barrett (Notre Dame) - stood in the way. An overflow crowd of 10,000 fans jammed the old Loyola University field to witness the great clash. Led by an inspired team effort on both sides of the ball Loyola prevailed 20-13, as Ryan scored three touchdowns and the Ramblers cemented their first Catholic League Section title in fourteen years (and their last until 1962) and one of only six undefeated, untied regular seasons in Loyola history. The following week, Loyola fell to undefeated Leo, 19-0 in the league championship game at Soldier Field, but the loss hardly tarnished a magnificent season. The 1947 team ended with a shining 8-1 season, averaging almost 30 points a game. Theirs was certainly a team effort, with Dempsey (Hall of Fame, 1985), Hester (Hall of Fame, 1999), and Ryan joined by future college players Tom Roche (Northwestern captain), Al Pigott (Cornell), Phil Collins (Dayton), and Bob Gleason (Santa Clara), just to name a few of the key contributors. Truly a team for the ages.

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