1993 Football Team (2004)
Only one other period in Loyola Academy football history Ð 1962 through 1970 Ð can rival the stretch of sustained brilliance witnessed by the Rambler faithful from 1990 through 1993. During that four-year run, Loyola fielded arguably the most powerful football program in the state of Illinois, posting a record of 46 wins against only 8 losses, capturing four Catholic League North Section titles, twice reaching the IHSA semi-finals, and twice reaching the IHSA finals. In the final campaign of that remarkable run, on a bitterly cold Thanksgiving weekend, John HoersterÕs 1993 Football Ramblers claimed the state championship crown and, in doing so, defined their legacy. This was a team of destiny. The year before it had been a team without expectations, an inexperienced, junior-laden squad that came out of nowhere to nearly capture the big prize. Now there was no hiding: they were marked for greatness. The 1993 Ramblers eagerly accepted the challenge. Head Coach John Hoerster, flanked by assistants Scott Baum, offensive coordinator Mike Dooley, E.J. Doyle, Tim Feldheim, Ed Flynn, John Grogan, Fred Proesel, and Mel Taylor, molded a team whose whole was greater than the sum of its parts. Unselfish, focused, and trusting, this team practiced and played with single-minded purpose. LoyolaÕs march to glory was predicated on the belief that a fundamentally sound, aggressive defense was the rock on which a championship was founded. Angry, relentless, and proud, the defense was the 1993 teamÕs anchor. Its leader was captain and inside linebacker Jim Tomaska. No better leader ever played for the maroon and gold, but in truth, this was a defense of leaders. Joining Tomaska at inside linebacker was Tim Fowler, with Jason Schuster and Jarett Romanski (Hall of Fame, 2004) on the outside. Up front in the trenches were tackles Ed Marut and Jon Stuber on either side of noseman Wes Mayfield, with Mike Roth off the bench. In the defensive backfield roamed Keith Hermann, Charles Martell, Sean Connelly, and Peter Gorman. The Rambler defense had no weakness. Together, the front-seven and the back-four formed a hard-nosed, swarming, smothering posse that was certain to keep Loyola in every game. The Rambler offense complemented the defense by playing ball-control, power football, commanding the line of scrimmage and pounding the opponent with four backs that weighed in at an average of 210 pounds. The offense was led by star halfback Adrian Autry, who carried the load the first half of the season. He and his backfield mates, fullback Greg Taylor and quarterback Matt Proesel, were protected by the likes of sophomore center Mike Kavanaugh, guards Mike Perrone and Chris Bruno, tackles Sterling Humphrey and Mike Fowler. Handling the receiving chores were tight end Erik deYoung and split end Pete Krackenburger. Ted Kalmbach handled the kickoff and field goals, while Romanski did the punting. The 1993 team got off to a rough start, going 2-2 after losing to both Palatine in the opener, and to Mt. Carmel, 7-6, in game four in the mud. The players never lost heart, never stopped believing in themselves, never gave up. And they never lost again. The Ramblers reeled off ten straight wins, a run all the more remarkable for the adversity they faced in doing so. While beating Gordon Tech in game six, disaster struck: Adrian Autry, who in just six games had rushed for 1000-yards, went down for the season with torn knee ligaments. The Ramblers had lost arguably the best back in the state, their greatest offensive threat. Faced with adversity, Loyola pulled closer together. Everyone had to step up, to elevate his game. To shore up the running game, Romanski moved back to his fullback position and Greg Taylor moved to tailback, with Bill Cahill taking RomanskiÕs outside linebacker position. Finishing the regular season on fire at 7 and 2, the Ramblers opened the playoffs with Evanston. Up 14-7 late in the game, with Evanston driving, the defense preserved the victory when Tim Fowler recovered a fumble forced by Wes Mayfield deep in Loyola territory. After dispatching Glenbrook South, Loyola faced a tough Marist crew. A defensive struggle ensued, the 0-0 deadlock finally broken when Jim Tomaska recovered a fumble to set up the go-ahead score. In the state semi-final game, Loyola took down Libertyville 28-14 to reach the final for the second straight season. However, the victory proved costly when Jarett Romanski went down with torn knee ligaments and joined Autry on the sidelines for the title game. Once again, others would have to stepup. On a bitterly cold day in late November, Loyola faced a talented Downers Grove South team for the IHSA State Championship. It turned out to be a defensive struggle, and LoyolaÕs punishing, swarming defense rose joyfully to the challenge. Scoreless through the first half, the game turned when senior Charles Martell recovered a fumble deep in Mustang territory. Employing their trademark power-running game, Loyola pounded away at the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Proesel, hobbled by a badly-sprained ankle, guided the offense to the fouryard line, where Taylor blasted it in behind junior fullback Pete Sylvester. That would be all Loyola needed. The defense took over from there, and the Ramblers took the 6-A title, 7-0. Mike Perrone, Adrian Autry, Ed Marut, Tim Fowler, Jarett Romanski, and Keith Hermann were named to the All-Catholic League and All-Area teams, while Perrone was also named to the All-State team. This was not, however, a gathering of individuals seeking personal glory. Rather, it was a team, a band of brothers, that strove together, sacrificed together, and won together. They are diminished, certainly, by loss. Jarett Romanski is gone, and Jason Schuster is gone, and now John Hoerster is gone as well. What remains, though, is the common bond of shared memory, and it binds them still, these State Champions of 1993, as they take their place alongside the storied teams of Loyola football history.